BPM: Bullets Per Minute
Developer: Awe Interactive
Publisher: Awe Interactive
Genre: Action, Rhythm, FPS, Adventure, Indie, Rhythm-shooter
Platform: Steam PC
Age Rating: N/A
Release Date: 15.09.20
A code was provided for review purposes.
Bullets per minute (or BPM for short) is a first-person shooter which must be played to the beat of a rock soundtrack. Does this game totally rock or is left at the bottom of the charts? Find out in this Rapid Review.
Play It By Ear
If an Asgardian-set game inspired by 90’s shooters mixed with an awesome rock soundtrack sounds the slightest bit appealing then I’m sure, like me, BPM will probably spark your interest. The fundamentals of BPM are simple, a crosshair pulses in time with the beat. By using the on-screen signals and by quite literally playing it by ear, shots, reloads, dashes and more must all be conducted on the beat. I played the drums a fair bit when I was younger and (at least attempt to) dance every week so I know how to move in time to the beat.
Coming to think of it, BPM plays like a well-choreographed dance: get the movements right and you’ll survive; one wrong move though and the enemies step in to attack. Fortunately, the fundamentals of BPM work gloriously well and I often found myself genuinely headbanging in time with my shots. I was at a rock concert, except it was on my monitor and in my headphones.
Safe and Sound
I often find it very hard to write about the music and sound in a written review. Because so much of the game relies on the music, I feel it’s best to embed the opening level’s track in this review. If you can, have a quick listen but if not, I’ll do my best to explain.
The game’s store describes the music as rock opera and I 100% agree with that statement. Although rock isn’t a genre I tend to listen too, I still found the music in BPM to be astounding. Due to the game’s rogue-like action, I spent most of my time listening to the opening level’s music. The sound effects of reloading and firing when combined with the soundtrack work together to add a considerable ‘heft’ to the audio.
I read a few reviews of BPM before picking up the game to review and each one mentioned the visuals. The game features an over-saturated colour palette which is unashamedly prevalent throughout the game. Each of the game’s four areas has a distinct colour palette which washes the entire stage in yellows, reds and more. I’ve seen other reviewers not enjoy the saturation but personally, dare I say it, I quite enjoyed the visuals.
Even with this controversial filter, I still found it possible to distinguish enemies from the environments and it helped differentiate the four different areas. The filter does however make the textures, enemies and guns lose a fair bit of detail as the colours wash over them. If the visuals don’t look appealing that each of the area’s saturation levels can be adjusted, all the way down to zero per cent making the game look monochrome and entirely different.
Additionally, BPM uses multiple assets from Paragon. Although this did not detract from my experience as I was too busy blowing up enemies (repurposed or not), it is worth noting.
Rogue-like or Rogue-dislike
As well as being a game from the rhythm genre, BPM is also a roguelike. Whilst the roguelike genre is one I’ve historically avoided, BPM changed my outlook. A very limited amount of progress is transferred upon death. There are two shops to buy health and weapons and by interacting with this, a loyalty point system is used to offer more items available to purchase over time.
Whilst I am usually disheartened when all my progress is reset upon death the gameplay loop of BPM meant that I always wanted to try again. When the boss at the end of each area is killed, a new playable character is unlocked. Admittedly on the easy difficulty, after six hours I finally defeated the final boss.
Luck or Hard Work?
Once I had defeated the final boss, I had to think about my success was down to luck or if it was my own skill. After some thinking, I think it’s a bit of both. At the beginning of the game, I struggled to get past the first boss multiple times but once a few hours had passed I consistently got past the second boss. However, I would say the abilities of the final round caused me to win.
Golden keys and coins collected by defeating bosses and enemies can be spent on new weapons, upgrades and abilities. Fortunately for me, on my final run, I had the vampire health on damage upgrade along with “Gunnr’s Bracer” which increased the healing effects. These abilities stacked together made me regen a ridiculous amount of health once I had defeated the enemies.
The only aspect of BPM that I actively disliked was the vagueness of abilities. There were a few abilities which made me unsure of their purpose. An encyclopaedia of sorts in the menu would easily prevent this issue and would have stopped me from having to pause the game and googling the abilities … well … ability.
Aside from the vagueness of abilities, BPM is an innovative experience, unlike anything I’ve played before. It made me enjoy playing a roguelike and that’s some of the best praise I can give.
Sure, the visuals do get some getting used too but with an awesome soundtrack and fun gameplay loop, BPM is an easy game of the year contender.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase BPM from the Steam Store using the link below.