Biped adds co-op puzzles to a colorful and diverse platformer, and in turn, makes a game that is as cute as it is unique.
There’s been plenty of titular robotic heroes in platforming games lately. Originally, Chibi Robo was the only mascot in town for cute robots, but now we have plenty to choose from. Most recently, the adorably playful Astro Bot from ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission and Grow Up’s sassy and crazy robot B.U.D. Biped not only has cute robots, but it uses these very simple, armless and adorable robots together to solve physics-heavy puzzles to help it deliver a diverse world that brings a lot of the same joy found in some of the genre’s best.
Even from the beginning of Biped‘s tutorial stage, you can tell you’re in for a different experience. Learning to control a robot by moving its legs independently has both a nuance of joy and frustration to it, as it’s novel but can sometimes lead to unintended results. To be honest, when done with dual analog sticks, it can feel like you are literally moving the legs of the robot you control, and that does a lot for immersion. In some spots of each level, there are flat areas that allow you to skate around with both feet, which is faster and a quite enjoyable break. During some of the harder puzzles in the later levels, Biped asks players to break their brain in half in order to facilitate the movement of both legs and knowing which one is currently in control. It certainly takes some getting used to, but once you get the flow of movement down, it’s a matter of working with the physics in the game to achieve the intended goals.
Biped can be played co-op, both local and online, or completely as a solo player. The goal of each level is to activate a beacon at the end, which is simple in principle, but there will be a bunch of obstacles in your way keeping you from that task. Most of these obstacles require the use of switches, which you activate by stepping on with one foot and move or spin or turn it with the other. My favorite switch design was one that has you literally twirling around in a circle with your foot spinning around as you lift or move platforms. Utilizing the best use of your partner in co-op or the number of chummy AI robots in solo can be the difference between falling to your doom or robotic redemption — luckily, there is very little penalty for failure, as you simply respawn near the closest area where you met your demise. When you get flowing with your partner in co-op, though, it’s something that feels like nothing short of mechanical magic.
Scattered around each of the themed environments are interactable objects that match the theme. Cacti, for example, are seen in the desert level and can be pulled out by foot, to then drop or even swing around and throw, presumably at an unsuspecting partner. Coins spill out when you remove the object from the ground too, encouraging playfulness, while earning currency. These coins, which are also found in boxes, strategically placed around levels or within robotic treasure chests, are solely spent on adorning your robotic buddy with an appropriate hat from the store. Anything from a pirate hat to a cartoony chicken hat can be obtained and affords you a bit of customization that can help easily distinguish between partners. Being able to quickly determine whether you are looking at the blue or pink robot in the midst of a cluttered area with lots of movement is of utmost importance in some of the crazier challenges.
The levels in Biped are gorgeous and certainly reminded me of the clean, shiny and often beveled design of Astrobot in a lot of ways. Each area’s objects have a mechanical style that can showcase their purpose through bright colors and movement. It’s very easy to come across a puzzle and immediately know what’s expected of you by the color-coordinations between levers, switches and platforms just from a quick glance. Design-wise, there are plenty of robotic design motifs that look like the eyes of the world’s inhabitants, which suggests the presence of more intelligent robots that perhaps helped sculpt the areas, but they are never seen. There are no boss fights in Biped either, which makes everything you do about making it to the finish line in each level.
Beyond the activating of beacons and collecting of coins, there are ways to fully ace a level. Beating it in a defined amount of time earns you an achievement, as does staying under a certain amount of deaths and finding all the hidden tokens in each level. It’s a little something extra to add to the hunt and for those that love to collect everything, you’ll be met with a respectable challenge. After beating each level, you will also gain two harder “Pro” courses that will introduce a tutorial area version of each area that requires a deeper focus and are where the true difficulty lies in the game. Expansions of concepts seen in the core levels are taken to new heights, and within these additional levels, you may find the controller-throwing difficulty you’re looking for, especially if you found the base levels too easy.
Biped is a short game, but it offers fun, colorful co-op trials that may test friendships but ultimately are worth the effort. The diversity of each new level is mostly visual, but there are some clever puzzles found within each one that helps separate the feel of gameplay enough to feel unique. The silly antics of armless robots are a fun concept and their large, digital eyes and vocoded coos will warm your heart as you fall to your doom again and again.
Biped is available now on Steam and releases for the Playstation 4 on April 8th. A Nintendo Switch version is also scheduled to launch later this year. Check out their website for more information.