Review: Beatbuddy – Tale of the Guardians

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Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians from indie developers Threaks, along with the talents of Rhianna Pratchett and Austin Wintory, is as much a joy to play as it is to listen to. Our review is here…

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Beatbuddy is a 2D adventure game based in the aquatic world of Symphonia. The rhythm of the Ecosystem is governed by the acoustic dreams of three slumbering deities Melody, Harmony and Beat. When tin-pot dictator, The Maestro, kidnaps Melody and Harmony in an effort to literally make Symphonia dance to his tune; it’s down to Beat to rescue his siblings and restore normality.

As worlds go Symphonia is a rather striking construct. The game has a varied colour palate and is rendered in a beautiful hand drawn 2D style. Each level is built around its own particular song from such electro luminaries as Sabrewolf and Austin Wintory, the composer of PS3 instaclassic Journey. Music is weaved into the fabric of the world and its inhabitants in such a profound way; you feel that sound is as much a part of existence to Symphonia’s universe as laws such thermodynamics are to ours.

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Aquatic flowers behave as bass drums and double up as trampolines propelling beat through the level. Tiny hermit crabs act as composers for shelled creatures which mimic high hats in their sounds, and spike traps in their behaviour. Even sea slugs get in on the action, firing off laser pulses as synthesizer notes. When characters converse their voices are heard in beat-box which slots into the rhythm perfectly. Even Beat’s idle animation has him bopping along to the rhythm of the soundtrack, and indeed when the whole heady mix hits its cadence it’s hard for the player not to do the same.

Some mechanics however are slightly below par. While the controls are authentic to the feel of an aquatic game, its floaty nature sometimes causes a lack of precision, particularly when navigating spiny coral which damages Beat on touch. This is especially pronounced when piloting the game’s sole vehicle; the Bubblebuggy. The submersible is an absolute mare to drive, as it judders along to the beat often careening into spikes or conga lines of ovoid enemies. Memories of the much maligned Mako from Mass Effect spring to mind.

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Many of the games puzzles are re-fashioned throughout the course of the game in slightly different configurations, and occasional fatigue sets in with the repetition. However, these gripes are mere occasional bum notes in the overall composition, and at 5-6 hours worth of game-play, Beatbuddy doesn’t over stay its welcome.

7.8/10

Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is out now on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux.

– Doug McCormack. He’s on Twitter @doug_mccormack

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