Thursday, January 14, 2021

. . . and then . . . Just Shapes & Beats

 When an indie game gets such high ratings as these:

  • 98% positive reviews on Steam
  • 8/10 from Destructoid
  • 5/5 from Gamestop

. . . you just know it's gonna be good, so if you need something to convince you, there you go.

As for me and my fam, Just Shapes & Beats is yet another in the list of our favorite rhythm games. For me, up until this point, it's been all about the awesome music I've been hearing from the room adjacent to me while the kids play.  For the kids, it's the amount of personality the game crams into the simple character designs, it's about the challenge of memorizing a grueling bullet hell, and yes . . . the music.

When the kids first started playing this game, I remember my son saying, "How can this music slap so hard when the only words in it are 'close to me'." Truer words about a song that slaps have never been said.

I'd categorize this game as a rhythm game hybrid that's mostly a bullet hell where memorizing patterns is king. The object of the game? Keep your little blue square inside the black spaces of the game, and that my friends is surprisingly difficult. You do get a chance to warp your square a couple inches away from your start point with the press of a button, but if you land in an occupied area, you'll get a bite taken out of your cube. In normal levels, you only get 3 bites out of you 'til you need to start over or return to the last checkpoint.  In boss levels, you can take up to 6 hits. You can go from completely healthy to dead in just a few seconds though, so you have to be in the groove.

As per most indie games, they get away with taking tons of liberties that regular games can't risk.  For example, after you beat the first boss, the game makes you think you've beaten it for a minute, and then the boss you just beat goes on an insane rampage as he turns all the blue graphics to magenta and chases you back down the campaign map nodes you just traveled down.


Insanity I say!  Making you think the game is over?  Making you think you lost progress? Yup. And that extra bit of charm is just amazing. This is what happens when you put creativity first, and God bless the indie titles that pull it off as well as Just Shapes & Beats has.

Our personal copy of Just Shapes and Beats is on the Switch, but it's also available on Steam, PS4, and Stadia. If you haven't played the game recently, but enjoyed it in the past, you might want to go revisit it again, back in June 2020, the team at Berzerk unleashed 5 new levels. The kids are going to have to get past me though if they want to play them. I just started up a new game all to myself.

Y'all . . . it's freaking hard and you die a lot, but the music is so fun that you don't even mind starting over again.

Happy Dueling! 

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