It’s been a little while since my last First Impressions piece, but I’ve been busy with so many titles of late, playing a demo just doesn’t cut the mustard, though I’ve given Just Shapes and Beats a try. I must admit that it’s nice to have such a selection to choose from, however.
To tell the truth, I’ve had Hob sitting in my library for months now and still haven’t played it. Then again, I got the demo for Planet Alpha, wrote a First Impressions, got the game shortly after and other than downloading it, haven’t played it either. Ah, the glorious backlog. Anyways, let’s get on with it, shall we?
Just Shapes and Beats is a rhythm game of sorts. Unlike games such as Thumper or classics like Parappa the Rappa, you needn’t time your moves with a button press, but it does elude to your next move. You see, in Just Shapes and Beats you play a shape (spoiler) that evolves from a triangle, slowly into a square. Each part of the square is made up of smaller shapes that represent your health, so after a few hits, you lose your life, with only a handful of continues to play with.
With the demo, I needed it to grab me by the balls pretty quick as I have such a backlog, I only have time for something that I can get into that gains my attention swiftly. So the first introduction to the game is a teaser; a few beats, collect a shard to boost your health and dodge some projectiles. Meh, it’s ok, but there has to be something simple to ease or hook you in – a tutorial if you will. Then gradually, the projectiles start getting mildly overwhelming, with the soundtrack becoming ever so more dynamic.
The first few waves are easy (you get a checkpoint for the side-scrolling parts), and the only time I died was when I was reaching for the sub-woofer remote to turn it up – the score is fantastic. You could play it on mute and could still beat the stages, but other than not waking anyone up in your household, there would be no point as the music is spot-on. You have headphones, right?
With the introduction of bosses, I expected to unleash some sort of weapon to shoot objects out of the sky, but there was nothing of the sort. Instead, it was a series of waves of increasing difficulty. At times the screen was so jam-packed full of hazards that you’d assume the difficulty was unrealistic, but if you pay attention (and listen to the music for hints), the beginning stages are very doable. I can’t say the same for the full game as I have to admit the last stage in the demo was bloody hard and I did have to restart a few times.
In summary, Just Shapes and Beats is like a full game version of some of the battle mini-games in Undertale. You weave your own little pixel out of harm’s way by dodging ballistics, beams and orbs of light and implementing the dash button to glide through in short bursts, coming out unscathed. Of course, all to the beat of an electronica soundtrack.
Just Shapes and Beats comes across a hard but fair reaction-type game that deserves to be played, even if you only download the demo. As time permits, this will be another one I’ll be adding to the library unless I get it in a sale or Berserk Studio butter me up with a code, this late in the game.
But I know I’ll cave and end up buying this sooner rather than later as it was a lot of fun.