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Boy Beats World Review (PC)

Cut the Midrange, Drop the Bass!

Boy Beats World review

 

Starting a game with a trial of “press-to-the-beat” with no button prompt at all was bold, but it drove in clearly what Boy Beats World expected of me. Honestly, I kinda respect that. It’s like the game’s saying, “Hey, are you a bad enough beat-dropper to play for keeps here?” Well played, game. Well played. But does this audio adventure stay true to the tune, or does it lose its groove a bit too soon to make it worthwhile?

 

The Funk Soul Brotha

 

Boy Beats World Boy Waking Up From Stasis Tube

Boy Beats World has a bit of a nudity issue. Guess bots don’t need clothes.

Boy Beats World wastes no time getting you on your feet with barely any tutorial to speak of. I’m experienced enough with the rhythm game genre that I caught on to what the game wanted me to do pretty quickly. However, others might have a hard time finding their rhythm. This game will expect a lot out of you in understanding the mechanics and combat even early on. Your partner, Daisybell, is a living boombox that’s been waiting for you to bust out of your containment tube(stark naked, I might add). She needs you to get the Composer to go back to making music so you can carry out an offensive on some robots that have made the world into their playground. Daisybell’s almost always churning out some delicious old-school noise. Still, occasionally you’ll need to turn on a transmitter somewhere in the level so Daisybell can get a signal for her symphony of destruction. The gameplay’s pretty light, but that’s because it’s all tethered to one main concept: Whatever you do, do it to the beat. If you need it, you can turn on an assisting circle that’ll show you when to strike. Screw up too much, though, and Daisybell will go into a cooldown state where even perfect hits are null.

With this game being steeped deep in that old-school pixel art and chirpy chiptunes, there’s no doubt of the era it’s aiming to emulate. That said, just like the games of that period, it’s no surprise that Boy Beats World won’t hesitate to beat you senseless. Your little drummer boy only gets two shots before he goes quiet, and getting hit the first time makes you drop Daisybell, where you’ll need to wait for four beats for her to recharge. The thing is, you’ll need to fetch her yourself, and you can’t pick her up early, which can be a pain in and of itself because she can get dropped in some really awkward places, sometimes right in the thick of hazards. Luckily a later upgrade you can purchase lets you pull her in by dancing, but even with that, it can often be too little too late. It’s rather clever, too, because getting too far from her makes the music fade, making it near impossible to blitz through a level.

However, the catch is that keeping the beat means little Daisybell never has to cool down, so the party never stops. Getting a grip with the beat can turn you into a walking mosh pit, and once you start hitting all yellows, anything that isn’t cannon fodder is gonna lose before it can even see you coming. That said, things change up a bit a little ways down the road. Some enemies need you to roll to stun them before you can give ’em a beat down, and some eject bullets upon death. There are also some areas in the dungeons where the music will slow down or speed up.

 

We Like to Party!

 

Boy Beats World First Boss Fight

I always knew electro-industrial was harsh, but this is taking it a bit far.

 

The first city you come to that actually has legit NPCs is Omega Plant Town, dyed in its dark grey colors with a soulless marching beat to help squalor the endless time until the poor robots working there get a five-minute break. All NPCs have something different to say, which impressed me and made the place feel a little more alive. Or, at least, as alive as robo-labor camp can get. One robot, in particular, caught me off-guard, a little clock that’s only purpose is to tell time, and by robo-god he does, by reading your actual computer’s clock. It’s little details like this that, while entirely unnecessary, make me smile a bit seeing the developer putting these little flourishes around.

It wasn’t just that city, either. All seven districts have something unique going on with them, from miners tethered by leashes to their carts to blob people living a digital dream powered by a malicious server bot. They never felt like one-off gags; they felt like interesting concepts that you wanted to investigate. You don’t get any bonus abilities, nor deep lore, just a better understanding of the unique environments crafted for you to observe, and that works shockingly well. You’re not here for stunning graphics (though low-rez, you can almost always tell what something is). You’re here to sink your teeth into these tasty little nuggets of exploration for the sake of…well, exploration!

The first boss was where I started to worry that combat would reign over the beat and make me stumble along my march as I faced a bipedal mech looking to silence me for good. That honestly never happened, though. As long as I kept my ears tuned to the snare and synth, I could tell exactly when he would attack, and sometimes even with what and how many times just based on what the music was doing. Just as I expected, though, they threw a drumstick into my well-oiled dancing machine, speeding up the tempo and finally making me miss a beat. I wasn’t even mad because it didn’t feel unfair. It felt organic and like a legitimate challenge of my abilities. Though short-lived, this boss made me focus on both the beat and where I was moving, and I got hooked on that feeling of perfect motion where my attacks never missed, and I knew exactly where to be to keep from taking damage.

You’ll rescue a plethora of people held captive by robot overlords, each one giving a special upgrade to make you more versatile. One person lets you drum roll out of danger, while another lets you make a secondary attack by hitting to an off-beat. When you first start, it might seem a bit hectic, but I can assure you that all of the movements you make will feel natural by the time you hit the midpoint of the game. I started going through a sort of PTSD from Crypt of the Necrodancer, where I started subconsciously doing things to the beat. The music is just that captivating and necessary to the game, and that really earns favor from me. When you can play the game so naturally that you can go into full-blown autopilot while doing it, your game succeeds so much that it puts its player base into an actual trance.

 

Raver’s Fantasy

 

Boy Beats World Robot Miners

Not even the fourth wall is spared in Boy Beats Worlds’ bombastic blitz of bass.

The music, oh boy, that music. I don’t often get to praise a soundtrack, so I’m gonna wax poetic here. This stuff is ear candy. From the deepest, growly supersaws to sparse beats lined with a sprinkle of piano, there’s rarely a missed note here. Don’t be scared that this is straight-up chiptune because it never feels like just that. It wants you to experience so much more than a few bleeps and bloops. It has plenty of flavor and richness. That soundtrack’s design and endless groove, no matter the tune, always colors the scenery with exactly the right atmosphere.

If there’s one single complaint I could direct to the sound design, it’s that sometimes the game likes to change what part of the song you’re supposed to focus on. One song it’ll have you focused on the bass, while the next one will require you to sync up with a snare or clap. It would grow a bit disorienting after changing so often, which someone could argue to just stop for a moment and watch Daisybell for a visual cue. They’d be right, and that does work, but the sudden shift can take away some of that organic flow it makes for itself. For the lack of a better term, it harshes my groove, man.

If you enjoyed Crypt of the Necrodancer to any capacity, then you’ll definitely find a tune to dance to here. For those less inclined to bustin’ a move while you’re bustin’ heads, approach with caution. Boy Beats World won’t hesitate to put you in your place and expects you to get a grip on the groove right from the get-go. The dancefloor isn’t for everyone, but if you still got a taste for that sweet oscillating bitpop, waltz your way over to a walkthrough, ’cause this one could sell on its music alone. The beat drops on May 28th, 2021, so tune in for the mix on Steam!


Final Verdict: 4/5

Available on: PC (Reviewed); Publisher: Duckbridge; Developer: Duckbridge; Players: 1; Released: May 28th, 2021; MSRP: $9.99

Full disclosure: The developer provided a review copy.

Cory Clark
With a passion for all things musical, a taste for anti-gravity racing, and a love for all things gacha, Cory is a joyful and friendly gamer soaking up any little gem to come to his little Midwestern cornfield. An avid collector of limited editions with an arsenal of imported gaming trinkets he's absorbed into his wardrobe, he's usually always near his trusty gaming rig if he's not on his PS4 or Xbox One. And when he's not gaming, he's watching anime off his big screen with his lap lion Stella purring away.

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