A few months ago I went to the PC and Indie games show Rezzed. Before hand I checked out who was attending so I could plan my attack on all of the games available and I saw one I’d not really heard of before from a studio I was unfamiliar with, but after finding their booth, playing the game, and talking with the developers, Beatbuddy was burned directly into my brain – I loved it.
I feel like I’ve been on a journey with Beatbuddy. I’ve seen the game progress from a short demo-version featured at the expo, to an extended yet unfinished review build, to the full final product. And though you might expect the earlier versions to be lacking in quality, Beatbuddy didn’t.
Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians from the beginning is a beautiful game. The level designers and the guys behind the environments have clearly spent a lot of time turning something that could be very bland, into something you can’t get enough of. This game is truly beautiful in more ways than one. The way the game is presented is stunning and the way the gameplay flows is gracious and delicate.
In the game you are the mysical creature named Beatbuddy an adorable little blue blob who’s been tasked to save the world of Symphonia from the evil doers. The world of Symphonia is a beautiful world absolutely drenched in music. Music is he worlds lifeblood and it’s an integral part of the game so you’ll need to pay attention.
You must help Beatbuddy navigate his way through the world avoiding dangerous obstacles like spikes as well as dangerous creatures like the Hi-hat Crabs and solving different puzzles in order for you to progress, some are ridiculously simple, others take a little bit of thinking in order to work out.
Music is the main part of this game, every creature you come across attributes to the different songs you’ll hear throughout each level. There’s two types of creature that I’ve come across so far; there’s the ones that don’t hurt you like the weird looking Bass Drum Squid/Octopus, then there’s creatures that will hurt you like the Hi-hat Crab and the Fire Snail. Throughout each chapter you’re introduced to more and more of these weird and wonderful beat making creatures at a fairly decent rate giving you enough experience with each type so you’re not overwhelmed with having to remember what each creature does.
The game does have some dialogue but there’s not a lot, if anything it’s quite confusing. I think that’s intentional though with Clef the mad professor-looking character you’ll come across later in the first level. Dialogue aside, I don’t think it matters too much, the game is pretty straight forward to understand without the need for dialogue. You learn how to progress through actually doing things rather than getting told every five minutes what the next objective is – this only adds more depth to the puzzles which is wonderful.
So the Beatbuddy. He’s a fantastic voiceless creature which you navigate the world fairly easily using WASD or if you have a controller, the joystick. (From here I’ll be speaking about the game’s controller controls). He has some fairly basic controls such as pressing “A” to boost forward a little – this is used best when trying to get through Snare Streams – you can also hold “A” to move quicker. Your little Beatbuddy can also attack using “X” which is used to temporarily shut the Hi-hat Crab up, or smash through rocks to find life-points. There’s also various parts of each level where you’re required to use “RB” to hold onto something. Like I said, simple enough.
Further on in the game you’re introduced to the Bubble Buggy, this is a weird orb-like machine which helps you navigate parts of the level quicker. Now, notice I said “quicker” and not “easier”, that’s because it’s not easy – at all. The Bubble Buggy bumps along to the beat as it moves so it’s not fluid like the Beatbuddy which makes it much more difficult to navigate around the level especially when you’ve got spikes to contend with. Whilst in the Bubble Buggy you can boost yourself along on every second beat, if timed right can help you get around much quicker and also avoid certain dangerous areas – it’s all about timing though – later on your Bubble Buggy starts to evolve as Clef adds more to the contraption such as a gun which helps you get through tough areas.
Throughout the game you’ll come across collectable pink gemstones called “Beat Points”. Each level there’s an overall number of Beat Points to collect which, if you collect them all, unlocks special extras. Located in more hidden parts of each level are “Relics” these are larger, fancy looking Beat Points which when collected give you a large number of beat points to your collection.
The music in this game is just fantastic. The developers, Threaks, have managed to get some pretty big composers on board such as Parov Stelar and Sabrepulse to create the music for the game which only adds to the experience for me. The music tastefully fades in and out through certain parts where you’re only exposed to certain music-making creatures which is a brilliant touch. I know I keep writing this, but music is a really big part to the game; if you can’t keep a beat you may struggle to get along with this game. Timing is key especially when trying to navigate through Snare Streams.
Overall Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is a beautiful game to look at, it’s really fun to play and gets your brain into gear as you try and suss out the various different puzzles located throughout each part. The storyline isn’t the most gripping tale but that’s okay because I’m not here for the story! Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is available on Steam today for PC, Mac, and Linux.