BPM: Bullets Per Minute is one of those games that makes you think: “Why has no one done this before?” It falls into the same category as SUPERHOT, where your brain even gets rewired after a short time of playing it and the game rules start blending into the real world. After playing BPM, I found myself doing the dishes, brushing my teeth, and even typing this review to the beat of the soundtrack.
What we liked!
- The Mechanic: The main mechanic has you timing all your actions to the rhythm of the beat. Shooting, dodging, jumping, and reloading. You can use the on-screen reticle, but it’s advised to just use your ears instead. Soon you’ll be blasting demons in style.
- Rogue-like elements: Each time you play the game, you’ll start in a randomly generated level with rooms, enemies, treasure, and other rewards all different from your previous playthrough. Only the order of the bosses stay the same
- The Soundtrack: There aren’t that many different tracks in the game, but boy does it linger. The beat is intense and the tempo fits the game PERFECTLY.
- The Graphics: The game looks visually stunning if you put all of the graphic settings to maximum. The earlier levels do have a tendency of looking a tad too “red” but it’s an acceptable style-choice. Playing this on a laptop turned out to be too demanding though, but more on that later.
- Unlockables: While it’s fine to lock a lot of content behind luck and progression (buying more items gets you more options every time you enter a merchant room), it’s a bit of a downer to find out most of the unlockable stuff like other characters are walled off by beating the game or doing so in harder difficulties. I’m sure it’s very rewarding for people who are amazing at it, but I was a bit frustrated that I wouldn’t get to experience other playstyles because I wasn’t good enough at the game.
- Luck-based: Playing a Roguelike inherently means that you’ll require some amount of luck with your drops. Enemies can spawn gold or keys, clearing a room spawns a treasure chest and sometimes you’ll find special rooms with Ultimate skills or merchant rooms where you can spend money to buy gear, skills, and health-restoring items. It makes the game more dynamic, but it also means that you’ll sometimes get bad luck and it’ll be a real challenge to face the challenging bosses.
- The bosses: These guys pack a punch. It took me 35 tries and a bunch of luck (see above) just to beat him. I also finally started seeing his tells where he signals what kind of attack he’ll be using (there’s a lot of different ones), only to face the 2nd boss with full health & armor and to discover he has a 1Hit-KO laserbeam.
What we disliked
- The Performance: I’m playing this on a laptop, which means that I usually expect some overheating to occur when playing games, but I usually don’t notice a drop in performance. BPM had me changing the settings after almost every round, trying to find the sweet spot between resolution, shadows, SFX, FPS, and other elements, only to still notice considerable lag versus some enemies. Too bad, as this had a terrible impact on my survival.
- The Balancing: Normally, you’d think the big enemies hit harder, but it seems they all have the same ~25HP-reducing attack no matter their size. This creates a weird dynamic, where you’re dancing around the bigger foes while still needing to focus on the fast & nimble bats who can shoot fireballs at you from a distance.
BPM is a fantastic game if you like all the elements it mixes together: FPS + Rhythm + Roguelike. It just so happens I fall right into that category, so if you’re like me, you’ll instantly become addicted to it. If a game is THIS much fun, it doesn’t matter that it’s hard, you’ll persist and keep coming back until you’ve mastered it.
Robby is a guest writer for LifeisXbox, mostly covering Belgian games.