We’ve all been there: You need a game to play. You look at your collection. Every single title is uninteresting. Sad face. These drastic times can often result in ventures online, in search of something cheap and good. I lucked out and found a game fitting those descriptors perfectly.
BEEP is an action/adventure/puzzle/platformer game for a measly ten bucks on Steam. The most impressive thing to me about it is that it took only three people to make it. The art, design and coding were all done by Kiaran and Jasmine Ritchie, and the music was composed and produced by someone whom I assume is their close friend, Francisco Furtado. When you think about the sheer volume of people hired to make big blockbuster games, and then you contrast the relevancy of a game like BEEP, it boggles the mind. That’s a rant for another time though, because right now you’re in for a little crash course in BEEP-onomics 101.
Starting with the surface, BEEP is a colorful game. The art and design is simple and cartoony, which gives you the warm nostalgia feeling. In no way though does this warrant the design to be lazy. Overall the art is very well done, and it’s hard not to appreciate it for what it is. What I really dig about BEEP, though, is the music… it’s just mind-blowingly good.
So what is BEEP all about? You play as the BEEP robot, sometime in the distant future of humanity. These robots are cast out into the depths of space to search for habitable planets. Upon finding a suitable planet, it’s the BEEP robots’ job to go down and collect precious Anti-Matter chunks. As the player, you control a BEEP-ship carrying the robots through a small galaxy. Each world you visit is divided into eight levels and two different types of terrain; they all carry a host of evil robots whose responsibility and sole purpose in life is to BEEP your BEEP. (Do some mad libs with that one for fun!)
Every new type of terrain presents new challenges for BEEP. Luckily you are given handy tips here and there which are often worded cryptically to get you to think on your own, or in some cases to give you a laugh. Each BEEP-bot is armed with jet boosters, a machine gun, and an antigravity gun. You’ll be jumping around a lot in BEEP, and the boosters make it really easy to strafe mid-air and hit your target. The machine gun makes the bad robots go away, and the antigravity gun is probably the most fun mechanic in the game. Aim it at a lift-able target (rocks, blocks, enemies) and hold right-click to see what it feels like to be God. I got a wicked amount of enjoyment using enemy bodies to block their friends’ projectiles, and then using the enemy as one. One thing I don’t think the developers planned on was a double jump trick I stumbled upon pretty early in the game. Jumping straight up off a lift-able object and then lifting it up right underneath yourself in mid air will let you jump off of that object again. I used that trick to get past a few tough spots, but despite the fact that I wasn’t doing the level as the developers intended, it felt pretty good to make it through on my own rules.
You’ll have to solve puzzles multiple times in each level. Whether it’s stacking blocks to reach a new point, or working through a complex maze of lasers, mines and bullets — no two puzzles are the same. There’s only one difficulty level in BEEP, and it works nicely for a satisfying experience. The game is pretty linear, which for some people works just fine, but others will find it restrictive. As for other problems and concerns I had, there were moments of frame rate slow-age during intense parts and the game crashed on me once. Those however are just a tiny puddle of issues compared to the ocean of things I liked about BEEP.
In the end, I would absolutely recommend BEEP to anyone looking for a good cheap thrill and a renewed hope in the future of game design. It’s a bring-a-smile-to-your-face kind of game.
[Editor's note: This review was contributed by freelance reviewer Pat McDonald, aka: Patmondo]
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux ($9.99)
Developer: Big Fat Alien
Publisher: Big Fat Alien
Release: May 6th, 2011 (current version, original on April 1st, 2011)