Be prepared for a Beating.
I’d like to think of myself as a connoisseur of odd games. The stranger and more unusual the title, the more likely I am to gravitate towards it. It’s not a hipster statement or anything; I simply enjoy a game, or any medium for that matter, which makes me question the art form as a whole and infuses a lot of strange and unusual aspects in order to make it more memorable. Well, Beat The Game certainly fits that bill, and then some.
Upon first booting Beat The Game, I was introduced unceremoniously to its strange world. There wasn’t much in the way of dialogue or exposition. Players take control of a rather lanky fellow in tight-fitting garb and a clear penchant to all manner of musical mystery. This gentleman, named Mystik, gets stranded in a desert and snatched away by malevolent tentacles. Upon further exploration, it becomes clear that his primary passion was music and that players are in a world that borders between reality and Mystik’s love for music and the utterly unusual.
The same old tune
Despite apparently being no rhyme (see what I did there?) or reason to it, but it’s not long before you’re tasked with collecting sound bytes in order to pursue a career of sorts in musical production. Obeying instructions from an otherwordly voice, players soon find themselves combing the environment for audio in which they may sample. Once homing their attention on specific sound origins, such as flying creatures or indescribable echoes, these samples may be placed and edited in a processor that resembles the most rudimentary of mixing desks. Those with even a cursory background in tracking from Amiga days, and those who use the Renoise digital audio workstation, will feel right at home here.
Nonetheless, familiarity with audio engineering is by no means a requirement. It’s all merely a case of selecting samples in a grid, applying effects, or muting them altogether to produce a unique mix. It’s also extremely absorbing; you’ll want to tweak with your creations for hours on end to produce a track to your fancy, and you’ll be constantly tuning in on your surrounding to procure new samples that may enhance your production. It’s one of those games, or not-quite games, that scratches the best kind of creative itch.
Time to face the music
The presentation is what elevates Beat The Game from a straight-foward, sound-editing exercise and turns it into the unique experience that it is. It’s odd. Very, very odd. If Tim Burton and Salvador Dalí were electronic music deejays and decided to work together on a game, Beat The Game might have well been the fruit of their labor. Like playing an interactive music video, the weirdness tries to outdo itself at every turn, from the dream-like landscapes to the utterly bizarre creatures that inhabit this strange world. It’s all accompanied by the very digestable, beat-orientated electronic music that players themselves produce.
Without any hyperbole, I can very easily say that Beat The Game is the most unique game I’ve seen since The Neverhood, oh so many moons ago. It’ll draw you in with its sheer weirdness and it’ll keep you hooked with its music-building gameplay. If you’re tired of conventional genres, then this should rocket to the top of your shopping list. We recommend you keep track of when it releases by bookmarking its Steam page. In the meanwhile, guide your peepers to the trailer below to see what you’re getting yourself into, but be warned that the video doesn’t really do it justice. It’s wonderfully strange and different and is easily the most memorable game of 2017 we’re likely to see. Get your beat on.