When one hears “rhythm” game, images of Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero are often some of the first to come to mind. Although these are the most common types of rhythm games out there, they are not the only ones. More and more games appear to be incorporating music deeper into the overall experience rather than just having something in the background to prevent silence. Even further, developers are bringing music to the forefront of the game, making it front and center and integral to the experience. Games like Rez and Child of Eden do this quite well by creating a musical experience through a shooting game. But Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is a new take on a rhythmic experience.
Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is an action, adventure, puzzle, and rhythm game all rolled into one. Developed by up-and-coming indie developer Threaks and published by Reverb Publishing, Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians aims to break down genre specific walls and deliver an experience that players won’t soon forget. In this game you play as an ethereal being called Beat who is awoken from his slumber to the rumblings of someone attempting to steal the music from the world of Symphonia. You set off to put an end to this scheme in hopes of restoring the music to the world and returning to sleep. Although the story wasn’t as deep as it could have been, you move with a sense of purpose and I kept wanting to see what happened next. The dialogue kept me engaged through the entirety of the game and, overall, I felt that the story helped accomplish the goal of giving me a purpose.
Now I entered into this game with no prior knowledge about it, but I found myself pleasantly surprised with the experience. This game was more than a game – it was an interactive experience that I felt myself becoming part of. At each turn and twist in the world I felt myself shaping the world around me which is a very cool experience to have. The game itself spans six levels with each level being represented by a single musical track. The levels and sound are structured so that each action taken in Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians represents a different sound in the music. The world is inhabited by fantastic organisms that pulse with the music around them amping up the sound in the game as you play. This is where it is difficult to distinguish between gameplay and music in the game, since the gameplay is the music and the music is the gameplay. They are interwoven so perfectly that you almost forget that each movement is causing a sound yet can tell when danger is approaching or a new puzzle is ahead based on the approaching sounds.
This game is beautiful to look at as well. The graphics are crisp when they need to be, but flow into one another quite well. All of the graphics add to the gameplay style as well. The movements of the main character give you a sense that you are underwater and the controls feel very responsive when used to perform tasks. There are not too many controls to grasp in the game. As Beat you can swim, dash, punch and interact with a variety of objects in the world of Symphonia and you utilize all of these controls to discover and solve countless puzzles you come across. The puzzles get more and more complex as you travel on in the stages and stumble across new sounds. The puzzles may start off as a simple “swim into bass drum to break block”, but turn into things such as “break block by avoiding high hat crabs and flute lasers.”
The gameplay doesn’t ramp up to where it’s overly difficult, but there were times in which I died a few times because I couldn’t keep a beat throughout the level. The gameplay is not just about swimming though as the game includes a submarine like craft to mix up gameplay. It is equipped with a machine gun on the front and allows you to assume a sort of shooter type role when progressing through different parts of the game. This inclusion of another gameplay style mixes up some of the monotony that can come with only solving puzzles and adds more layers to the music to make it a very enjoyable experience.
The sound design in this game is top notch. The game wouldn’t be what it is without the sound and music that they chose. Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is worth playing if only to listen to the soundtrack as you play. There are no criticisms when it comes to the sound and I can still hear the music even when I am not playing the game.
Even though the gameplay, audio, graphics and story are all memorable, the game doesn’t have too much lasting appeal or replayability. Once you play through it there is little incentive to go back though and play again unless you want to experience the soundtrack over from the beginning. Due to this fact, the game is definitely worth picking up and playing but there is no reason to play it more than once.
Overall the game is good. It is an experience that is best served when you strap on a pair of good headphones and zone out for several hours. While the game can experience some bugs at times such as invisible walls due to sprites not loading, and be frustrating when required to keep a steady beat, the soundtrack and the gameplay is more than enough to redeem the game and push it up there in scores.
(Reviewed on PC. Thank you to Reverb Publishing for the review code.)
ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE
Story – 8/10
Gameplay/Design – 9/10
Visuals – 8/10
Sound – 10/10
Lasting Appeal – 7/10
Overall – 8.5/10
(Not an average)
Platform: Available for download via Steam on PC, Mac, and Linux
Developer: Threak Game Development
Publisher: Reverb Publishing