Just Shapes and Beats could not represent the “less is more” ideology any more beautifully. This is essentially a rhythmic bullet hell that utilizes, you guessed it, shapes and beats to establish a series of interactive musicals to experience. My time with a hands off demo at E3 was spent having a chinwag with Mike Ducarme, word wizard and coder for a jovial developing trio at Berzerk Studio. From what I’ve seen, this is the best way to describe the game:
The music thumping from Just Shapes and Beats‘ booth was indeed kick ass, and the four people occupying the controllers seemed completely taken by amusement. Avoid the pink shapes that change according to the beat, and you’ll survive long enough to finish the song. Two gameplay modes provide two entirely different atmospheres for players to experience: single and multiplayer. Playing alone is soothing, calming – even bordering on the line of relaxation. Playing with others, however, is a totally different story.
Chaos ensues when multiple players are on the screen. Intensity and a high level of required map awareness becomes paramount in your performance while the song itself creates the level’s layout and design. Great songs mean great maps, and the ever-changing environments sync up perfectly with the on-screen action. Each song featured in Just Shapes and Beats looks and sounds equally appealing as it presents an innovative visual representation of the music – quite a tall order that is crafted with a love that makes the the game’s developmental complexity feel approachable and easy to pick up. While audio tracks fuse with the beautifully simple and incredibly deadly pink shapes, each level unapologetically instills the atmosphere of an intense boss battle as the music continues.
Mike mentioned plans for the future, as well, and granted me a glimpse into the conceptually and structurally sound future Just Shapes and Beats has in store for itself. They’re aiming to set up the game to provide credit for and payments to musicians for their work. By using an already established audio platform (Soundcloud would be a good fit!), musicians would be able to accrue an expansive heap of exposure, and ideally monetary contributions, by letting players download and play through the level that each artist’s song creates within the game. It’s a wild idea that I can only hope becomes integrated into the game down the road.
Great conversation was had between Mike and I, and the teaser video for Just Shapes and Beats (found above) exemplifies exactly the kind of light hearted, passionate air with which the team carries. Just Shapes and Beats is simple in concept, but avoiding death in-game looks nigh impossible. Regardless of the inevitable corpse pile of shapes players will eventually accumulate, there is far too much fun to be had to look the other way.
Keep your eyes and ears on this one.
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