An ocean of musical motion
Many a developer has chased the dream of a musically influenced game that isn't a note-highway party experience. Some, like Revolution X, missed their mark; others blend rhythm into their gameplay quite nicely (think Runner 2 or Sound Shapes). From what we've seen of Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians, an indie headed to PC, Mac, and Linux, it looks like it'll land in the success category.
That's thanks in part to the visual style, which syncs up the music with lush, painterly environments to explore. You play as Beatbuddy himself, a cute turquoise blob wearing headphones at all times. Tasked with single-handedly saving the realm of Symphonia across six worlds, you must guide Beatbuddy through a series of seemingly underwater stages filled with objects that keep the tempo of an all-encompassing beat.
The controls mimic the excellent Aquaria, as Beatbuddy gracefully floats, dashes, and punches his way through the 2D environments; playing with a controller is strongly recommended, but not required. Similarly, you won't have to perform every movement in time to the music--but the rhythm will inform you of when you should slip past damaging obstacles. You'll also solve a variety of puzzles as you traverse the nonlinear stages; we encountered a fair amount of blockades which we had to bust through by bouncing off bass-heavy coral.
You can even man the aptly named Beat Buggy, a motorized submarine armed with a turret. With it, Beatbuddy can blast his way through fast-paced level segments, boosting along to the melody. With each of the six stages revolving around a different song and color palette, we're eager to see what lies beyond the first few stages. Check out the following screenshots for additional info and impressions!
Beatbuddy isn't alone in this strange world--you'll encounter plenty of characters, who may want to help or hurt you.
The stage layouts are fairly complex, and completionists will be tempted by the collectible pink gems hidden around each level's nooks and crannies.
Everything's connected; smacking those creepy crab claws, which are synced with the hi-hats, will cause the spikes in the lower right to retract. A drum roll lets you know if you're about to get stabbed while sneaking by.
There might be times when you just stand idle in a room, grooving out to the catchy tunes while Beatbuddy dances.
Behold the Beat Buggy in all its engineered glory! Here, Beatbuddy's using it to blast through a wall of barnacles that he couldn't break otherwise.
Even when piloting the Beat Buggy, you'll still need to be mindful of environmental hazards like these giant golden spikes.
Austin Wintory, who composed the score for the incredible PSN game Journey, has a song in Beatbuddy. No word as of yet whether or not that stage contains any scarf-wearing companions.