When it comes to great puzzle games, you need either a set of great game mechanics or a really good theme. good theme. Developer Ichigoichie showed that they have a deep attachment to music as a theme with their last title, Hexagroove, but they’re really going all in with Backbeat a puzzle game with a great story all about forming a band and finding success.
It’s the 90s, Backbeat‘s protagonist Stephanie “Watts” Watson — an aspiring bassist — discovers the magic of funk and sets off to not only form a band but also find fame at the upcoming Battle of the Bands. You’ll achieve that by completing a selection of levels, sliding each band member through various screens, and creating a great track as you go.
It’s an incredibly fun take on the classic, sliding puzzle sub-genre, with each character sliding different distances, and interacting with the world in different ways. There are also special moves that characters can do and, as the game progresses, special rules that you need to adhere to in order to get the best results on a level. Backbeat is also as forgiving as they come, with full rewind functionality, which gives you plenty of opportunities to mess around and explore the level before committing to your final path through it. There’s simply no fail state.
There are reportedly about forty different levels, of which I played through over a quarter. While the puzzles were fun, and the real core of the game, I really enjoyed the story of a bunch of misfits pulling together into a band, working through their problems and rallying themselves on the rocky road to success. It was a bit heavy on the quotes, references and nods to real-world things, so much so that it became a bit tiring, but it definitely aired on the side of cheesy rather than annoying.
Backbeat is an interesting take on the sliding-puzzle game, one totally dressed up in a world of musical beats and a fun, easy-to-follow story.
Backbeat will launch on Windows & Mac later this year.