Gematombe – Review
Follow Genre: Arcade puzzle game
Developer: Route 5 Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Tested on: Switch

Gematombe – Review

Site Score
Good: Great character designs
Bad: Light on content
User Score
(2 votes)
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Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Do you like ‘90s-style arcade puzzle games? What about Greek mythology? If you answered yes to both of these questions, you might be interested in taking a look at Gematombe. This puzzle title debuted on Steam last year, but it recently arrived on consoles, which seemed like a perfect opportunity to take a look at it. Join us as we take a peek inside Pandora’s  ̶b̶o̶x̶ jar to see what Gematombe has to offer.


We all know the story of Pandora’s box, but did you know that Pandora also had a jar? This jar doesn’t just hold demons but it also contains hope, which allows our protagonist, Pandora herself, to turn into a superhero of sorts. She’s going to need this hope, as some of the demons have escaped from her jar. It’s up to Pandora to go out and recapture these fiends to restore peace to the world. This version of Pandora’s tale is presented in an upbeat and lighthearted manner, befitting the game’s cutesy aesthetic. In addition to the main plot, you can also tackle the story campaign as one of the escaped demons, which presents an alternate but equally amusing version of the same story. The dialogue itself is fine, albeit a bit cheesy, but it’s clear that English wasn’t the writer’s first language and there are some awkward expressions or occasional errors which did feel distracting at times.


The cute and colorful visuals feel reminiscent of the Nintendo DS era, in a good way. The pastel tones, thick outlines, and overall aesthetic would feel just as at home in games like SUPER UFO FIGHTER or Part Time UFO as they would in WarioWare. The game can feel a bit cluttered and chaotic in the midst of the action, as there is a lot going on during the more heated puzzle moments, and the interface is a visual mess. That said, the game’s visual performance is fine, probably thanks to the relatively simple art direction.


With a cheerful and upbeat soundtrack, Gematombe’s soundscape feels very appropriate for its arcade feel and visual aesthetic, even if it doesn’t sound like it belongs in a game about a heroine battling demons. While the game isn’t fully voiced, there is some voice work here and there and it’s fine for what it is, although nothing of it is outstanding or exceptional. The same applies to the sound effects, resulting in a mid-tier soundscape that neither disappoints nor excites.


Arcade puzzle games have been a staple for decades, and there are hundreds of variants to choose from. While these aren’t always completely interchangeable, it’s hard not to notice similarities between titles, and Gematombe is no exception. The game feels like a cross between Breakout and Puzzle Bobble, with a dash of Pokémon Puzzle League thrown in for good measure. That’s not an insult, because the three aforementioned titles are each timeless classics in their own right, and while Gematombe doesn’t really reach the same lofty heights, it’s still a very enjoyable arcade puzzler in its own right. The concept is deviously simple: you’ll need to get rid of colored gems in order to attack and damage your opponent. You win the game either by knocking them out or by clearing your board. The twist here is that you are controlling a Breakout-like pad and you need to bounce back your own ball, after aiming it Puzzle Bobble style. You’ll also need to strategize to clear as many gems in a single hit as possible, as this will place more gems on your opponent’s board, making it more difficult for them to clear their screen.

There are six characters to choose from and each brings their own special move to the table, with some clearly stronger than others. You could have a character that makes your enemy’s gems harder to destroy, for example, or shuffle their gems around, meaning they’ll have to rethink their strategy on the fly. These add some much-needed variety to Gematombe’s core formula, although it did mean that it took some time to find our footing. Gematombe’s core gameplay is easy enough to understand but the game throws you a few curveballs early on, making it appear more difficult initially than it is on average. Perhaps that initial learning curve raised our expectations a bit too high, because once we cleared the campaign, we felt like Gematombe was a decent game but not an exceptional one. The game is fine in terms of gameplay, but it lacked that feeling of addictiveness carried by the classics in the genre.

One thing we did find was that Gematombe was surprisingly low on content, especially when it comes to the game’s single-player mode. Arcade puzzlers are typically simple but designed to offer tons of stages. Gematombe’s main campaign only offers six stages, with very little replay value unless you want different dialogues from the perspective of the demons. Other single-player options include a survival mode and endless practice mode, but neither one failed to really grip us. It seems that the main draw here is the battle mode, which lets you battle your friends locally in PVP. We should also note that the game is lacking an online mode. Fortunately, Gematombe’s price tag isn’t excessively high, so it’s still worth picking up, even if it isn’t an absolute must-have title.


As it stands, Gematombe feels like a middle-ground arcade puzzler, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The colorful aesthetic imbues the game with a cheerful atmosphere, and the gameplay takes a while to get used to, but once it clicks, Gematombe is good, if a bit light on content. If you’re looking for an arcade puzzle title, you’ll probably like what’s on offer here, but we highly doubt that Gematombe is truly going to set anyone’s world on fire.

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Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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Gematombe - Review, 7.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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