Beatbuddy: Tale of The Guardians has been around for a while now: Threaks, the game’s developer, released the game back in 2013. A full two years later and the Xbox One Marketplace has been graced with its presence, but what exactly is Beatbuddy?
Beatbuddy: Tale of The Guardians is an action adventure game that has a big focus on musical platforming gameplay. It sounds like there is a lot going on in that description but if truth be told, it’s not that complicated. It is very close to your standard adventure/platforming game, but the enemies and challenges that you face will be focused around a musical rhythm.
You play as Beatbuddy, a little blue dude that looks a little like a dubstep inspired Casper. Beatbuddy is an ethereal being who travels through the world (a kind of underwater soundtrack universe) to rescue his sisters Harmony and Melody, in order to stop an evil bongo playing Prince. It is a unique setting for Tale of the Guardians, but the plot has been done to death. Luckily for Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians, the plot is the least important feature of the entire game.
The first thing I noticed when booting up the game was the wonderful artwork that has been created for the title. It really is spectacular; especially considering the game is a couple of years old. The beautiful environments have been hand painted by the developers and it is one of the standout features of Beatbuddy: Tale of The Guardians. Traveling through the world that has been created allows for plenty of time to admire the effort that has gone into the game in order to make it look as good as possible.
The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, and the experience that I took away from the game came down to the minute to minute gameplay, as it always does. Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians colours squarely within the lines, always conforming to the usual trends and never really opening itself up to more risky mechanics. I can’t blame the developers for this, a “safe bet” is usually better than a “Hail Mary” and as it was the team’s first foray into gaming, I feel that this is a case of credit where credit is due.
The musical aspect of Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians seems to be underutilised. The game would lead us to believe that it is an integral part of the gameplay, but it just wasn’t the case for my time with Beatbuddy. There is a rhythm to the gameplay that is undeniable but if the music were to be removed (or when I used an ability unlocked later in the game that dulls all of the sound) I never really missed it. All of the enemies in the game will have some kind of percussion or instrument associated with them. It can add a nice layer to the audio, especially in certain puzzle or scripted sections where multiple enemy types are on screen at once and they come together to make some pretty funky tunes.
Enemy types are varied although there is not much in the way of combat in Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians, there are moments where you unlock new abilities and then have to fight off a hoard of enemies but these moments are few and far between. Beatbuddy instead makes you focus on problem and puzzle solving. Most of the puzzles boil down to rotating bounce pads in order to catapult yourself into rubble blockades to break them open and unlock new areas of the map. There are puzzles that will require you to dodge enemies while traveling a gauntlet or activating and deactivating switches to manipulate the environment. None of the puzzles are all that taxing but they aren’t necessarily a breeze, so Threaks have managed to get them somewhere in the goldilocks zone.
On your adventure, you will meet characters that will help you along the way. Your trusty friend Clef will help direct you along your path and will fix your ride: a strange rock/potato submarine type thing………it really is the only way I can describe it. Clef acts as the game’s primary comic relief. This is another point where Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is on point: the writing. It is funny, whimsical and has a childlike quality to it that I found endearing. From finding notes from other characters in the universe asking for their friends to cover them as they skip work, to Clefs constant reassurance that everything is fine when parts fall off your vehicle, there is a light-heartedness that I for one found charming.
The vehicle is a great addition to help shake up the gameplay and keep it from getting too repetitive. You spend most of your time swimming around as Beatbuddy, performing actions to solve puzzles and defeating enemies, once you have done what you need to do (usually unblocking a big door), you get into the vehicle and get on your way. Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians has a great learning curve and new abilities and tactics are introduced at a nice pace that gave me plenty of time to get accustomed to the new features before moving on to the next, and the same can be said with the vehicle. To begin with, it is just a mode of transport, bobbing along in time with the music, but as you progress and unlock weapons it becomes a fearsome machine. In certain puzzles I was expected to activate points which rotate the world by 90 degrees, it was disorienting at first but I got the hang of it soon enough.
Beatbuddy does have some performance issues, I experienced a lot of frame rate issues and jumpiness when I was playing. It’s not usually too much of an issue however when I had to time my movements or attacks to the beat of the music, it did cause me a few unjust deaths. It was a fairly minor issue but it was one that happened throughout the game.
One of the biggest problems for Beatbuddy: Tales of The Guardians is the oversaturation of the indie market on the Xbox One. There’s no shortage of action and platforming games and sadly there is nothing to distinguish Beatbuddy from the crowd. The musical element seems like a gimmick and isn’t a defining feature of the game.
I enjoyed Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians for what it was, a fun game that lets you know exactly where you stand. It is a game that lost a lot of its appeal through repetitive gameplay by the end, and one that sadly doesn’t push any boundaries but it is a fun title all the same.
Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is, at its heart, a fun game. Great writing adds a personality to the game that the “musical” elements sadly fail to deliver on. The gameplay is mainly puzzle based and is entertaining but it does get slightly repetitive as the game goes on. A beautiful art style rounds off Beatbuddy: Tale of The Guardians nicely and while there are some prettier games available, there are many more than pale in comparison. Beatbuddy is a fun puzzle game at its core, and that’s a good thing.
Graphics – 89/100
Value For Money— 73/100
Overall – 73.8