Don’t don’t don’t don’t stop the beat
First of all, Beatbuddy is not a rhythm game. You’d be forgiven for assuming it was so, but it’s a long way from that. It’s more Ecco the Dolphin meets Rayman Origins, with music-based mechanics and an amazing soundtrack mixed in. Watch the trailer above, but make sure you watch it with headphones or speakers pushed right up for maximum effect. We’ve spent some time with an early preview of Beatbuddy, and here’s what we think.
First of all, the game is gorgeous. In terms of visuals and audio there’s very little that comes close, even amongst AAA games in the 2D genre. Screenshots can often look unimpressive, but once everything is in motion with the music pulsating throughout the stage and everything you see reacting in some way to a beat or instrument, it’s hard not to be amazed. The game uses a similar 2d effect to the recent Rayman games, with a number of layers giving a sense of depth to the background, but the foreground is incredibly bright and detailed, appearing hand drawn and carefully animated. The music comes courtesy of such high-caliber composers as Austin Wintory (Journey, the amazing game, not the band) and Parov Stelar and Sabrepulse (Chime) and the talent has really paid off. The level we’ve been playing through has a kind of jazzband/swing feel to it and it really pervades the level. Different sea creatures provide different instruments, with a simple bass and snare beat making up much of the early sections, but you suddenly get hit with crescendos of full bands bringing the environment alive. It’s a beautiful thing to behold and with a decent sound set-up you get carried away with the music and the colours on screen.
Gameplay wise, exploration is mostly linear but you still feel wonder as you traverse the underwater caverns, with the camera occasionally panning out to give you a sense of scale. There are puzzles that impede your progress and these appear to serve as the meat of the game. Many are related to the music, but some simply involve positioning objects to enable you to break through walls. At various points you get control of a submersible that allows you a lot more freedom and speed, with the full backing of high-tempo music driving you onwards.
Currently the game is more about the experience than the challenge, with the puzzles and dangers more of an inconvenience than a barrier. Clearly the developers want to keep the flow going as you’re consistently pushed further into the game, with the soundtrack getting louder as you go.
Beatbuddy has won numerous awards already, and as soon as you play it you see why. Beatbuddy is blending audio and visuals in a way that we haven’t seen in a 2D game before, and it works beautifully. I can’t wait to get my hands on the finished game.