I, like many gamers, enjoy serious and time-consuming titles. However, I also love silly games that I like to think of as my guilty pleasures. My fascination with rhythm games started on the PS One when I was introduced to Bust a Groove and PaRappa the Rapper. My tastes became more refined thanks to the likes of Rock Band and Guitar Hero, but I yearned for that colourful Asian influence. Luckily, I need to yearn no more as Beat Souls landed on my desk to scratch that childish itch.
Developed by ZOO Corporation and Eastasiasoft Limited and published by the latter, this is a vivid arcade rhythm game. It captures everything great about the genre thanks to its colourful characters, simple mechanics, and banging tunes. Though it may be simple to pick up, its gradual difficulty curve ensures that the best players will still be tested.
Beat Souls should come with a warning!
Everything about this title made my inner child jump for joy. However, I wish the developers had warned me about its addictive content. From the opening gambit, I was hooked on its simple concept and colourful levels.
Unlike its peers, Beat Souls has no recognisable story. This was a little disappointing, as there was room for a bizarre and nonsensical plot. Sadly, this wasn’t to be and instead you must focus on its two key concepts. First, avoid the spikes and the noisetacles (noisy obstacles that block your path). Second, collect the souls while dancing to your heart’s content. This is Beat Souls in a nutshell, and it’s not complex, but my word it is addictive as hell.
Arcade or infinite Hell mode?
To keep things simple, the action is split into two game modes; arcade or infinite Hell mode. The first is where you’ll spend most of your time. This option is divided into normal or hard mode and it will test your patience while demanding perfection. The infinite Hell mode is a non-stop daunting experience that demands you understand every element of the gameplay.
During both modes, you must follow the same simple steps. You will move your Otomo companion side to side across a board that comprises 5 spaces. Your character is then flanked by two spherical soul catchers. These orbs can change colour from yellow to blue and they can move to pair together on the left or the right. As you automatically move from bottom to top, you must navigate the various obstacles while using your orbs to catch every soul.
It sounds extremely straightforward, but the tempo of each song dictates how quick your reactions must be. Furthermore, the horrific combination of colour changes, jumps, obstacles, and pairing the orbs makes it a tough juggling act. Moreover, you mustn’t make a mistake if you wish to chain together combos to get the highest score.
Beat Souls is a colour sensation.
I love the Asian-inspired style because of its wacky ways and vivid colours. The striking Anime/Manga look is sure to catch your eye as is the cyberpunk neon hue that lingers in the background. Furthermore, your 3 opponents each have a unique look that impacts the stage design and the challenge you’ll face. This excellent decision from the developers ensures that the repetitive gameplay never gets boring.
Another element that you won’t tire of is the banging audio. The eclectic blend of tunes varies depending on your opponent. Just like the stage design, this was a simple tool that overcame any potential monotony. Subsequently, I never got bored with what I heard or saw. Frankly, I was too addicted to the action to care either way!
Damn you sensitive controls.
I adored nearly every element of Beat Souls, but the controls drove me insane. This wasn’t because they were complex or challenging to master. No, quite the opposite, as the excellent tutorial sets you up perfectly. My frustrations are aimed firmly at how sensitive the analogue stick is! Sadly, the smallest of touches sends your Otomo companion the wrong way. Consequently, this causes you to hit obstacles, lose health, and ruin your combos. It was infuriating and undermines the final product. The developers were overzealous in their approach and the ability to adjust this would have overcome this issue immediately.
If you can cope with the very minor, albeit annoying, shortcoming, you’ll be hooked immediately. Everything about the game is straightforward to understand and hard to put down. You have 30 stages to overcome, 2 difficulty modes on each level to try, a high score to beat, and the infinite Hell mode to defeat. Therefore, there is plenty of replay value to be had. Though I loved it, I believe the developers have missed an opportunity. If they have incorporated a multiplayer mode, it would have been competitive while increasing longevity.
Beat Souls is a fantastic indie title.
I admit it wasn’t going to take a lot for me to love Beat Souls. It ticks all the boxes for me and I quickly became hooked. Sadly, however, I was disappointed with the sensitive controls and lack of multiplayer action. Those are minor things and they don’t detract from the brilliance of this title. I loved it and I recommend you to buy it here! Can you avoid the noise and collect every soul? Feel the rhythm of the music, avoid the obstacles and perfect every stage.