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Beat Slayer Review: A Rhythmic Roguelike Gem

Platform reviewed: Steam

Price: $19.99

I must admit, my first time with Beat Slayer during a Steam Fest in February left me underwhelmed. For reasons I can’t pinpoint, the game failed to resonate with me. However, when it arrived at Gamerheads for review, I gave it a second chance. I'm incredibly happy that I did. Beat Slayer has swiftly ascended to the top of my favorite roguelike list, standing with giants like Hades and Dead Cells. It skillfully incorporates common elements of the genre and introduces unique features, ensuring each playthrough is enjoyable.

Set in a dystopian Berlin, a few years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Beat Slayer follows the story of Mia. Her brother was kidnapped by Dietrich, a sinister villain who wields sound to subjugate the citizens of Berlin while using robots to enforce his rule. The game's stunning art style, reminiscent of a graphic novel, hooked me from the start. Despite its bleak setting, Beat Slayer's charm lies in its playful tone, mixing humor and nods to pop culture. Mia, the rebellious protagonist, is a punk at heart, opting for action over words when facing challenges.

Mia's battle isn’t alone in this endeavor. She is part of a group of rebels operating from a base hidden within the depths of a sewer. This eclectic crew supports Mia in various ways. Among them is a robot, whose purpose is explaining the intricacies of the battle system, a bartender who concocts special drinks designed to give Mia a competitive advantage, and a mentor who offers valuable upgrades in exchange for experience points earned throughout the game.

One of the aspects I appreciate about Beat Slayer is each run is meaningful. With the ability to choose my own path during gameplay, I can customize my experience. Some paths offer temporary upgrades for my weapons, such as a fire attack, dash, or kick attack. On the other hand, some paths provide experience points that can be spent back at the base for permanent upgrades. Additionally, I can choose paths that include food and boosts to enhance my gameplay. The mission board adds another layer, as completing missions rewards me with extra experience points. These missions range from defeating a specific number of robots to equipping a certain in-run upgrade. Having these choices at my disposal makes every run engaging and enjoyable, knowing that completing these tasks will allow me to upgrade Mia, making her stronger for the next round.

Beat Slayer offers three distinct attack options: a standard attack, a special attack, and a kick attack. Additionally, Mia possesses a dash ability, which I find indispensable for navigating levels and establishing a rhythm. The core mechanic of Beat Slayer revolves around rhythm, encouraging me to synchronize my attacks and movements with the beat of the music. Successfully doing so not only amplifies the damage I inflict but also, after achieving a streak of twenty consecutive beats, triggers Tanzrausch mode. This mode fills up a meter for my special attack. However, missing a beat resets the streak count. Despite the potential challenge, I found maintaining the rhythm relatively straightforward. After defeating the first boss, the game introduces a visual aid to assist in staying on beat, although I never felt compelled to use it.

The game is definitely challenging, filled with levels teeming with enemy robots, each with their own unique special attacks. One aspect I particularly enjoy is that the robots can actually harm each other, adding an extra layer of strategy to the gameplay. I've had moments where I skillfully dodged incoming missiles, causing chaos among the robots as they inadvertently attacked each other. The boss battles are also a highlight, combining creativity and difficulty.

After dying, Mia returns to the base, where I can claim the rewards I've gathered throughout the run. Despite my initial frustration with myself at dying, I find satisfaction in knowing that I can level up Mia with the experience I earned.

Final Grade: A

If rhythm games have previously failed to capture your interest, Beat Slayer might just change your mind. The game is an accessible roguelike that strikes a perfect balance between enjoyment and challenge. Its humor effectively prevents the game from becoming overly dark. The fusion of art and gameplay delivers a distinctive experience, solidifying Beat Slayer's position among my all-time favorite roguelike games.

Review code provided by Neonhive.



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