Now I’ve played quite a few roguelikes/roguelites at this point, and it’s fair to say that I’m a bit worn out on the whole genre. With so many vying for attention and little done to stand out, it can often feel like I’m playing the same game with a different coat of paint. That was until I got some hands-on time with a preview build of BPM: Bullets per Minute.
If you had a scrapbook that takes the core tenants of different genres and attempted to weave them together, mixing together aspects of 90’s inspired shooters, rhythm focussed gameplay, roguelike elements, and score attack games, you’d get BPM: Bullets per Minute. I had a quick hands-on with it and found it refreshingly tough and enjoyable, but that didn’t stop it from suffering some of the same problems, like fatigue, that games of this fashion are all too used to.
Right out the gate, I have to say that I love this idea. The balancing act of fast and fierce gameplay of games like Doom and Quake and rhythm elements is such a breath of fresh air to both the FPS and roguelike genres. Blending them together with beautiful synergy.
Keeping in time with the game’s badass rock style soundtrack whilst you try to simultaneously perform simple FPS actions like reloading, shooting, and dashing makes what seems like simple encounters much more engaging. Not to mention that gameplay can drastically change with each new weapon or upgrade you find, with different reload beats, abilities, stat increases that definitely added some depth to the overall experience, and will surely play a larger role in the full release.
Now while this might sound a bit complex at first, it slowly becomes more and more rewarding as you get over the initial learning curve; Whilst still maintaining a degree of the challenge even on the easy difficulty. Ultimately the gunplay and nice pace of the combat coupled with the great soundtrack made it super satisfying to play, even with the limited amount I got.
Now, where it’s a little less spectacular is the roguelike elements. Does that mean they are badly done? Not at all. What I mean by this is it’s not anything new. With each attempt to clear the stages, you’ll explore a different set amount of areas before fighting a boss. Each time these have different layouts and secrets to find, such as stores to buy health or items, or libraries to learn skills, to name a few. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun, it’s just not what’s the main focus here.
Perhaps the full game will alleviate some of my concerns with a bit more depth in these elements. With that being said, it’s more than serviceable and does look to boast some good replayability. Though, for me, it remains to be seen if it’s enough to make me keep coming back, even with the plethora of weapons, characters, and abilities in the full game.
Yes, it’s these generated and random elements that are an inherent part of what makes these games roguelike, but it’s this that I often have problems with, and the repetition of it all. Playing through the same styled areas fighting the same kinds of enemies can become an extremely tedious ordeal after a while. More often than not I find myself becoming more apathetic as I play. So imagine my frustration at having to start again with none of my previous upgrades and hearing the great soundtrack replay over and over again; slowly become more and more of a nuisance with each death. Great gameplay made this a bit more bearable, but it’s hard not to be burdened with the same feelings of irritation and creeping boredom I’ve had a bit too often with this style of game.
On the other hand, I might just have sucked.
Of course, the full release will include 4 extra characters with different strengths and weaknesses, over 40 items, challenge modes and a host of other features.
Despite some early hesitation and my own fatigue with these games, BPM certainly shows some great potential. With its blend of gameplay elements and one of the more unique ways to make a game in this space, maybe the full game with help shake up what I believe is an overcrowded genre.