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Beat Slayer Review: Slave to the rhythm

Emma Flint

Published 
| Last updated 

Beat Slayer Review: Slave to the rhythm

Featured Image Credit: ByteRockers' Games

Music plays a dramatic role in my life. Although I’m an avid gamer, I’d argue that listening to music takes up an even larger portion of my life than playing through my favourite franchises. Therefore, when Beat Slayer came onto my radar, I wanted to play it without even considering if I have the skill to reach its end.

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I’ll fess up: I’ve yet to finish the game. However, therein lies a lot of its beauty. The fact that you don’t need to breeze through each level in order to succeed is an attractive lure to have dangled in front of you. In fact, I’d argue that a large part of Steam's Beat Slayer relies on you failing, and being willing to face that failure head on.

Without falling at one of the earlier hurdles, I wouldn’t have learnt the mechanics of the game quite as astutely as I did once my crew back at base (re)showed me the ropes. Of course, if you’re someone who’s used to hack and slash gameplay, landing on the beat while you carve your way through foes will impact you little, save giving you a better score.

Can you follow the beat in Beat Slayer?

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Mia, the badass woman you’re playing as, is attempting to rescue her brother from an enigmatic villain known as Dietrich; we know little about this man, other than he’s the main power in this alternate post-Berlin wall setting. Dietrich’s mechanical creations will come for you as you try to find a route to your brother, and thus your need to wield a weapon as rhythmically as possible comes into play.

For this reason, the developers advise you play Beat Slayer with your headphones plugged in, and as someone who’s attempted to play the game both with and without their aid, headphones make a huge difference. They allow you to really strike to the beat, thus creating a long chain of successful attacks. As I hinted at earlier, you don’t need to perfectly attack in time to the beat to progress, however, it’s beneficial when you do because it unlocks Tanzenreich. This unique effect greatly increases your attacks until you’re hit and/or miss an enemy.

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Image Credit: ByteRockers' Games
Image Credit: ByteRockers' Games

Missing enemies to the point that Mia falls doesn’t equal ‘game over’, nevertheless, it does send you all the way back to the beginning. But not before you can pick up some tips from your crew, as well as spar with Botty, your always-friendly-yet-relentless-raring-to-train robotic companion. Use him as often as you need to perfect those moves because timing is crucial.

Even if you find yourself back at base more often than you’d like, Beat Slayer offers enough variation that it doesn’t easily feel repetitive. This, married with the occasional interaction with the crew, helps create a fluidity that’s never stifled by your... ahem... questionable skills.

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However, while you can quickly find yourself two or more hours down the line with ease, it’s the action that keeps you interested rather than the narrative. The story is intriguing, but it’s not layered enough for you to become overly invested. You want to help Mia, but the key details of why, who, what, where, etc don’t niggle away at you as you fight your way through.

Image Credit: ByteRockers' Games
Image Credit: ByteRockers' Games

It isn’t just electronica and initiative controls that hook you, it’s the visuals of Beat Slayer, too. Everything is a stylised delight; the scribbles of outlines mixed with pops of rich colour creating a vivid tapestry for you to immerse yourself in while you dance and hack your own way. I’m torn when it comes to which is better: the aesthetic or the music. Both are sublime, and thus make for an entertaining experience for the senses.

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To balance out the journey when it’s so easy to fall and start again, there are boss areas to break up the randomised, general enemies. These encounters are much more challenging, and can prove the undoing of your otherwise spot-on form. But what is a fight without its trials? Mia’s certainly up for getting back on the saddle and riding headlong into the fray again – as long as she’s got her beats, she’s a choreographed fighting machine.

I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll return to the synthesised tunes of Beat Slayer, albeit in a sporadic fashion; as compelled as I am to keep playing, I can’t see me spending day after day replaying it. Beat Slayer thrives on being played in short, energetic bursts. But no matter how long I go between another run, I will always be a slave to the rhythm.

Pros: fantastic soundtrack, stunning graphics, and plenty of replayability

Cons: surface-only narrative, and no saves make it tough going for hours at a time

For fans of: Hi-Fi Rush, Death Loop, Hades

7/10: Very Good

Beat Slayer is available on Steam (version reviewed). Code for review was supplied by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Topics: Steam, PC

Emma Flint
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