I didn't get in a whole lot of time with Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians, but what time I did get in with the game was a delightfully different one. In fact, I was very impressed with the game despite thinking I was going to be stuck with some hipster nonsense that would get pretentious and boring after an hour or so.
Just to preface this piece before we go any further: Yes, I succumbed to playing this game after being tossed a free promotional key from the developer, Wolf Lang (that's an awesome name by the way), from the small German studio Threaks. Interestingly enough, he only decided to pass a key my way because of the interview we ran here on Gaming Blend with Austin Wintory, just before Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded launched. Of course, a game featuring music with Austin Wintory was instantly on my radar – and that's not to mention that it was the soundtrack to Journey that forced me to label that game as one of my favorite games of 2012 – and it wasn't too much of a stretch to give the game a try on the premise that it wasn't something from EA, it was indie and Austin Wintory was involved. Sold.
So the game is about an epic quest from a legendary being known as a Beatbuddy, who must make an epic journey to save sound and music while solving puzzles and moving to the beat of some of the coolest tunes around. In fact, the music is the one thing that really helps this game shine. It's an eclectic mix of hybrid genres that fuel the rhythms and pace of the game. A difficult thing to describe, I know, but it works and works amazingly well.
Now, I haven't made it very far into the game (hence the "First Impressions" label on the title) but there's this slow build-up when starting out so you only experience things like bass drums, hi-hats or snares in isolated segments. You know something big is coming but you don't know how.
Since the music comes from objects within the environment, like clam shells, glowing reefs and water bubbles. The more objects on screen the more the music comes alive, sort of like in the video below...
In a way, the discovery of sound and song is one of the things that helps make the game feel vibrant, alive and adventurous.
Players swim through levels, avoiding harmful objects, figuring out puzzles and advancing through the story using a series of very simple controls. The game is probably best played with a controller, and mostly you'll be using an attack button, a swim-fast button and a pick-up button for carrying around objects. You'll alternate between these simple actions to progress through the game while carrying out a lot of actions in tandem with the beat of instruments or music.
As showcased in the video above, there's a machine that you get to float around in that only moves to the beat of the music, so it takes quite a bit of timing to avoid some enemies or keep in line with some large jellyfish in order to get from one area to the next. It's exceptionally engrossing and that's somewhat of an understatement.
Helping bring the music to life is the game's hand-painted backdrops and colorful atmosphere that fits in well with the musically-themed gameplay.
Hopefully I can get in some more time with this game because it's a neat little puzzle title with an amazing soundtrack. Also, as of the publishing of this article, the game is 66% off right now on Steam for only $5.10. So if you're looking for a side-scrolling, music-themed game that really pulls you in like PaRappa The Rapper or Thomas Was Alone, it might be worth checking out.
You can learn more about Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians by paying a visit to the official website.
Also, real quick: why the heck can't I buy the soundtrack on Steam? Seriously, I almost thought about using the PC Master Race's old methods of acquiring goods when they were the PC Pauper Race, but then I remembered Steam and that it was easier and safer to get goods (and soundtracks for games that I like) from there. So I went to the Steam store page and realized there was no way to get the OST... seriously, this needs to be fixed! Don't turn PC Master Race members back into PC Paupers!