The brick breaker genre has been around since the late 70s, with one of the oldest video games still talked about today - Breakout. It wouldn't be until a decade later, where the genre really took off with the arcade classic Arkanoid, adding ingenious power-ups, improved directional ball mechanics, and even a boss if you reached level 33. I even had an arcade cabinet in my grandmother's garage for most of my childhood, although I don't think I ever had the patience to reach the end of the game. Developer QCF Design has taken the genre and twisted it in such a way that makes perfect sense, and begs the question, why something like Drawkanoid doesn't already exist?
In Drawkanoid, as you might surmise from the name, there isn't a consistent paddle to move around the play area. Instead, you must draw one using your mouse, giving you complete freedom on the angle and size (up to a specific limit). If it still played like a traditional game in the genre, it wouldn't feel that much different, but in Drawkanoid, everything moves at a blazing speed. Thanks to the game's neon-colored visual style, all of the blocks that you'll be shattering brilliantly pop off the screen. Not only that, but the unbelievable fast movement means each stage only lasts for a matter of seconds. Before you realize it, the ball has shattered the glowing outlines of shapes, but there's a catch. As the ball approaches the drawable area, it enters a type of bullet time, giving you a brief moment to react. Now, the ball is still moving and will speed up and blow right past you if you take too long, but the window of opportunity is even to analyze the necessary angle.
The variety of the stages keep things interesting, as you'll come across those that resemble traditional throwbacks to the genre, to those that could be construed as bullet-hell shooters, complete with tiny bullet shapes moving about the play area. Gold/points earned based on your performance is spent customizing your loadout. At one point, I equipped the pierce ability that allows the ball to pass through a set number of blocks instantly but requires to be charged by bouncing off the wall 25 times. In the other two available slots, I equipped aim, and waveguide, showing where the ball will bounce, and allowing for a direct path be drawn for the ball to follow respectfully. There are even more things you can purchase with the currency, such as having bosses drop additional gold, the ability to draw longer paddles, and even two unlockable game modes. Zen mode removes bosses from the game, and the notion of the game always speeding up. Perfect for a more relaxing time, well, as relaxing as you can get with an insanely fast block breaker experience. On the other hand, countdown cranks up the tension, pitting you against the clock.
Drawkanoid is the most fun I've had playing a block breaker game in the last ten years, easily. It is a game that I can see being enjoyed in short bursts every few days, as you earn some gold and put it to good use. The two unlockable game modes add new life to the game, depending on if you want a slightly more comfortable experience or one that is much more high-strung.Note: Drawkanoid was reviewed on PC. A digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.