Every wondered what an RPG or dungeon crawler would be like if had rhythm and beat elements running through it? Some of you may scream ‘Crypt of the Necrodancer’ back at me and you’d largely be right. However Boy Beats World is a small indie title that plays with the concept and takes it in a slightly different direction. Think Streets of Rage with rhythm elements and you are much closer to this experience.
Rhythm plays a big part on Boy Beats World. As your Boy moves around the world with his beatbox sidekick (Daisybell), she plays music for you to either attack or dodge to the beat with. Your actual movements can take place at any time or place which means Boys Beats World mixes real time and time based combat together. Initially this will take some getting used to as you have the freedom to move everywhere but not to attack or defend until the beat. Miss the beat, miss the attack. Boy Beast World lives off of this concept and uses an optional visual trigger so if you haven’t found the beat, you can visually see it like a mini game instead.
The second element of combat is that attacks from enemies are often area focused bare yours do too. Each beat echoes out like a radar effect and enemies respond to you when you enter their area of attack. This means that in order to survive you need to roll in on the beat so that your blast radius will hit the enemy, attack on the next beat and get the hell out before you get clobbered on the following beats. Combat has a real rhythm to it, excuse the pun, and its one of the games greatest strengths. This plays out really well in some of the boss fights too where all of these elements are used in choreographed battle sequences that are fraught with danger. Boys Beats World definitely has some bite to its difficulty and the bosses often are the pinnacle of this so save often!
Each level has different music but the timing and BPM of them are largely the same so the gameplay doesn’t get harder in that respect. It gets more complex by throwing more enemies at you with bigger attacks to dodge. When you are hit, your beatbox friend falls on the floor and if you get hit without her, its game over and back to the last checkpoint. Levels often have little town hubs to enjoy some side character dialogue but aside from some witty comments on robots taking over the world, leaving you as one of the last humans alive, they offer minimal substance. I did enjoy the fact that they respond to you attacking them with music though.
Graphically Boy Beats World isn’t going to win awards. The pixel art feels chunky and minimal but it does the job. Town areas feel significantly more loved than the corridors of enemies you have to beat to get to them. It does feel inconsistent. Another odd one is the music. It follows a hip-hop vibe without really being catchy. This works both ways. The themes won’t get stuck in your head but then you won’t go searching Bandcamp for the soundtrack immediately afterwards either. One bonus is that the game has audio/visual collaboration tools which some other rhythm games should learn to incorporate. Syncing up makes the gameplay so much better so I was thankful for its inclusion.
A niche recommendation to fans of Necrodancer and quirky, indie titles that try unusual things. Whilst it doesn’t have consistent production values, I did enjoy my time playing it. There’s a definite challenge here too.
Review copy provided by developer.
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