Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians – PC
Publisher: Reverb Publishing
Developer: Threaks
Release Date: Aug 6, 2013
Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer
Reviewed by Mark Smith

Review Score: 4 of 5

I really love this summer’s bumper crop of indie games and Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is no exception. This is just one of many music-based, action-platform games out there, but it definitely stands out as something wholly unique and totally original. Most games in this relatively new genre try to have you construct an evolving soundtrack through gameplay, either by unlocking new instruments in a dynamic symphony, or even more directly by creating the music through tangible actions and inputs to play notes.

Beatbuddy seamlessly integrates the gameplay into the music in such a transparent and natural way that you almost forget you are playing to the rhythm of the game’s fantastic soundtrack; a collection of original songs composed by specifically for this game by well-known artists such as Austin Wintory, Parov Stelar, Sabrepulse and La Rochelle Band. The atmospheric themes and ethereal score all complement the visionary graphics and enchanting art style of the six hand painted levels that make up the world of Symphonia. Each level is host to five chapters creating an unforgettable 5-8 hour journey that can only be described as magical.

The underwater world of Beatbuddy is quite spectacular with a main character that looks like a fish wearing headphones who sometimes travels in a submarine-like ship navigating treacherous chambers and passages full of deadly enemies and dangerous traps. Beatbuddy’s quest is as fantastic in its visual design as it is in gameplay. You’ll interact with a living, breathing world that pulses to the beat of the music; a beat that you will often need to match in order to bypass certain obstacles. In some instances you will need to hit a special tendril orb that is conduction an orchestra of deadly spiked plants causing them to temporarily retreat so you can pass. In other areas you will need to relocate bubble receptors in order to open sealed doors.

Some passages will be blocked with coral that you’ll need to smash through using pods that pulse to the beat of the soundtrack to launch Beatbuddy. Sometimes you will need to redirect your path using rotatable mirror-like pads to create clever and complex paths from the initial pod to the destructible coral. This clever mix of puzzle-solving, action, and shooting help evolve Beatbuddy from just a standard platformer into something remarkably fresh and original from start to finish. And just when you start to tire of the graphics in one setting, a new world full of new graphical themes invigorates your interest, along with fresh new gameplay challenges.

Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is challenging but never so hard that it becomes frustrating. You’ll seldom get stuck for long, and even when you die the checkpoints are always nearby so you won’t be repeating much. The designers are definitely going for a more casual Zen-like feel versus the more frantic shooter experience. It’s not as cerebral as Journey or Flower, but it is just as delightful to play, and for only $15 I can’t recommend it highly enough.