BOOM TAP BOOM TAP.
Genre: Adventure, Indie
Developer: Worm Animation
Publisher: Worm Animation
Release Date: Early 2017
It’s an interesting idea, a musical adventure game. I’ve previously been dazzled before by Samorost 3 and Botanicula from Amanita Design Studios, who had a good margin of success. So, with a bit of curiosity as to how this game handles musical elements, I installed Beat the Game for a night of preview fun.
Off into the Wild Psychedelic Yonder
The main character, who looks like he came out of a Beetlejuice scene with his slightly distressed striped jumpsuit and steampunk goggles, is speeding along through the desert on a hovering motorcycle when he has an accident and tumbles out of control. He shakes himself off, looks around, and investigates some odd looking objects when he is suddenly kidnapped by rogue branches that use a big red comfy chair as bait. I can’t blame him, if I saw a chair in the desert I’d sit down too. After a long sleep, he awakens in a tunnel and climbs a ladder to an area I can only describe as a scene that perhaps Salvador Dali would come up with if he did CGI animation on the weekends. Giant flying devil eyeball? Check. Skateboarding colossus made of sand? Check. Steampunk girl playing some strange type of golf? Check. Dead dude holding a mixed drink? Check. Oh, on top of that, there are hallucinogenic gummi bears here and there. Those knocked me completely out for a few seconds, and I’m not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
On to the walking around and discovering stuff part. There are a handful of things you can do at the beginning. Firstly, you can locate objects and pick them up. For the most part, those unlock a cut scene, and on one other occasion, I found an inventory item. The bread and butter of the game is using a “Sound Scanner” to identify and catalog sounds which then automatically plop into a mixer. After I had several sound samples, I turned on my mixer and began working on some beats using volume sliders and effects knobs. The sand giant dude seemed cool with it. No reaction from eyeball-in-the-sky, though. From what I gather, once you collect all the beats, you perform a live show to get to the next level as long as the audience approves. I also discovered a marker system, where you can set some beacons to a place you want to go back to. That seemed nifty in an adventure game, making me think the environments may be much larger than I can see at the moment. Lastly, I uncovered a cassette player that doubled as a BB8 prototype droid and I also made a girl run away when I walked over to her. No love for striped unitards anymore, so sad. All in all, it was just a typical afternoon in a surreal desert landscape with flying things in the sky that make EDM music.
I can’t really comment on the story or gameplay beyond that, because of a fifteen-minute time limit on the game preview. Even with a replay, I wasn’t able to get much more of an idea about the rest of the game.
Graphically, Beat the Game is intriguing. The artwork comes off as something like the movie, Corpse Bride. The animation plays a strong role in the game and when the cut scenes occur, it’s as if a movie clip is showing rather than an in-game animation. I enjoyed the interesting way the game uses shading and color because most deserts tend to be sand-beige to the nth power. Here, we have deep purples and blues with an almost airbrushed visual acuity to give the nighttime atmosphere some depth. Movement is on a 3D plane, so it’s not like a good chunk of adventure games that solely use a 2D plane. I never got stuck on geometry, nor did I have a system crash. It’s got all the proper bells and whistles of a 3D adventure game with the added bonus of some very beautiful character modeling.
What I I wish I could comment on is how the musical component works with say, puzzles or story. I’m also not sure if the collection of all these sounds would end up being tedious or not. It’s rather easy with a mouse or Steam controller as you hover over the sound-bite flying objects and sample them. If you enjoy surrealism and dreamscapes instead of real world environments, you may enjoy Beat the Game. The DJ mixing is not hard from what I encountered. I just wish I had more time with the game so that I could delve deeper into its inner workings.