Home > Multiplatform, PC, Reviews, Video Games > Review – Beat Hazard (PC)

Review – Beat Hazard (PC)

Beat Hazard is a flashy dual-stick shooter that uses music tracks to generate levels, resembling a fusion of Geometry Wars and Audiosurf. The $10 price tag and promise of unlimited user-generated tracks is appealing, but this independently developed game suffers from problems that will limit players’ long-term interest in this quirky title.

The game’s opening splash screen features a prominent warning message cautioning players susceptible to seizures to be careful due to the visual effects in the game, and the developers really aren’t joking. Beat Hazard features an absurd amount of flashing and strobing full screen graphical effects that can be painful at times. At its worst, thousands of bullets will be flying out of both the player’s ship and the dozen or so enemies on-screen while the background rapidly pulsates in time with the selected song, made more vibrant by the momentary volume and intensity of the song. Enemies and asteroids explode into debris that further obscures the play area. All this insanity takes a while to get used to, but there are easier difficulty modes that lessen the graphical madness.

Beat Hazard supports the Xbox 360 controller, which is better than the awkward mouse and keyboard controls. As in Geometry Wars, the left stick moves the ship and right stick shoots laser beams. The goal is, predictably, to survive each song with the highest score possible. There are power-ups to collect from downed enemies that will increase the player’s score multiplier, laser strength, or song volume.  All the points collected during each track add up towards granting the player new perks, such as more lives or a higher starting score multiplier. Beat Hazard also uses Valve’s Steamworks service to offer save syncing and Steam-wide leaderboards and achievements.

Unfortunately, Beat Hazard suffers from significant design issues that limits its long-term appeal. The menus are haphazardly designed so that scrolling through music and moving in and out of folders requires an absurd amount of work that makes large music collections annoying to sift through. There are no playlists or other conveniences to make finding music less of a chore.

The most significant issue is the lack of variability. There are very few enemies that can be generated in the levels, with the only distinguishing factors between the enemies are size and durability; they behave exactly the same. Even the bosses that appear at certain points in songs lack much differentiation; the game usually spawns either one big boss or two little ones. There are simply not enough variables that are alterable by the player’s tracks to make the game less repetitive.

For the first few hours, Beat Hazard is a blast. It’s not mechanically unique, but the game is flashy and outrageous enough to be enjoyable until the limitations of the game become clear. Different enemies, a better interface, and more variety in what is generated from tracks would go a long way towards making Beat Hazard worth hopping into every once in a while.

  • Developer: Cold Beam Games
  • Publisher: Cold Beam Games
  • Release Date: 4/15/2010 (Steam)
  • Also available on Xbox 360 (Indie Games)
  • See also: Audiosurf (PC), Geometry Wars (Xbox 360, PC), Robotron 2084 (Arcade)
  1. Pete Derrick
    January 20, 2011 at 5:58 AM

    Beat Hazard sounds like a great game

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