Bang-On Balls: Chronicles review for PlayStation, Xbox, PC, Nintendo Switch

Platform: PS5
Also on: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Untold Tales
Developer: Exit Plan Games
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

I don’t know what’s come over me: for the second time in the last few weeks, I’ve been a little disappointed by a game that, on paper, I should love because of the way it allows for rampant mindless destruction. First I was a little underwhelmed by Teardown, even though it offered a fully destructible world, and now there’s something about Bang-On Balls: Chronicles that makes me not like the game, even though, again, destruction is pretty much the whole point. They’re not even the same genre, but in both cases, I felt a lot more “meh” about the games than I would’ve thought possible going in.

Of course, I know exactly why I’m not super fond of Bang-On Balls: Chronicles: its camera and its controls are both huge hindrances to enjoying the game. When things as basic as that are off, it’s hard to appreciate anything else.

The gist of the game is that you’re a ball rolling your way through a series of themed levels: a viking level, a Japanese level, a pirate level, and a space level. All of them are surprisingly nice to look at – in no small part because, for the most part, they just exist for you to destroy – and they all offer plenty of secrets to uncover, which is always a good thing if we’re talking about a collect-a-thon-style platformer. There are lots of visual gags and pop culture references, and you can basically customize your ball to look however you want.

The problem is that it’s not as fun as you’d think to get around the world. While you can scoot around without anything stopping you – you’re a ball that can smash through walls, so you can basically roll wherever you want – the camera doesn’t always do a great job of keeping up with you. Consequently, it’s not uncommon for you to suddenly find yourself with no view on where you are or where you’re trying to go. The downside of having such a packed world is that it gets a little busy sometimes, and when all those destructible objects get between you and your ball, the sightlines suffer.

Bang-On Balls’ other problem is that the controls start feeling pretty repetitive fairly early on. While you can move quickly, all the double-jumps and smashes and forward lunges seem to blend into each other until it feels like you’re just doing the same thing over and over again.

Of course, the counter to all those complaints is: this is a destructible, semi-open world where you can run (er, roll) around smashing things to your heart’s content. That may not be enough to fully redeem Bang-On Balls: Chronicles, but it’s at least enough to make it fun in doses – even if it’s not as fun as I would’ve hoped.

Untold Tales provided us with a Bang-On Balls: Chronicles PS5 code for review purposes.

Score: 7