BPM: Bullets per Minute is a curious proposition, with Awe Interactive taking the fast paced FPS genre familiar to everyone and throwing in rhythm game mechanics to try and create something different. Does it manage to create a ballet of bullets? Let’s find out
BPM sees you taking on the role of a Valkyrie with your goal to prevent the underworlds invasion of Asgard. Taking some cues from Norse mythology, numerous enemies & stages would be recognisable for anyone with a passing interest in such things. In total there are 8 such stages, eighth sports the final boss with earlier bosses filling out the stage, with a unique boss blocking your path to the next stage each time.
The stages themselves and the items within are procedurally generated each time you start a run, so each time plays a little differently when you have to start again. Additional variety comes from the playable character each stage, as they feature their own special abilities to unlock that can change up how you tackle the level. Once you’ve done all the stages, a challenge mode awaits you, though it doesn’t add too much to the game. Honestly you’re only looking at around 6-8 hours to see almost everything the game has to offer
To be honest the game actually looked quite garish at first. It has a heavily filtered look that is exacerbated by the games default maxed saturation option in the menus. Drop this to 50% and you can see more of the detail within stages, which to be frank isn’t a lot as variety comes from the different stages as opposed to the areas within stages. Luckily the soundtrack picks up the slack of the visuals, providing a heavy soundtrack that goes along well with rhythm based nature of the combat.
Performance is good, 4K/60 possible on my system (R51600/16GB/5700XT) with the dynamic resolution option activated. The games visual style does allow you to drop settings without noticing much change if you need to get some extra frames. You’ll have to try and ignore some visual errors here and there tho, in particular the clipping at the edges of the screen. This is actually made worse by playing in ultrawide as the clipping happens on screen then as if the game is expecting you to still be playing 16:9
As a fan of rhythm games and fast paced shooters like Painkiller, the general premise here is an interesting one. Movement is free but other actions like shooting ,reloading etc have to be done along the beat. Firing along with the beat can net you bonus points, there’s also a half beat that acts as a safety but without any bonuses. Variety comes from the randomised shrines to boost stats (Range is the key one otherwise your shots confusingly miss at first) and other weapons to procure through crates. A random crate is dropped when a room is dealt with, and they can contain new guns, coins, keys for locked crates or even enemies! You’ll need to make the most of everything through the stage for the boss battles, they can be tough if you’ve skimped on abilities & weapons.
So how does the idea play out? Dogshit at first, I wouldn’t be surprised if others dropped the game quick. It could take several frustrating tries to fully get to grips with the flow of the game and how it all actually plays, so expect plenty of frustration up until it clicks. This is mainly because almost everything described above you learn yourself, and also the floaty feeling to player aiming and control until you head into the settings. Sure the game throws the odd hint on your screen, but the main mechanics like improving your abilities are not mentioned until you happen upon a shrine and wonder why it’s flashing. Once it clicks the game is good, it’s just until then it can be annoying having to pick everything up as you go along – It can be quite unforgiving.
BPM takes two totally different genres and manages to meld them together successfully enough to create an engaging experience to go with its pounding soundtrack. Sure, its unforgiving nature and poor visual design could be a turn off for some, but once it clicks there isn’t much like it within one of gaming’s most tired modern genres. Certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Imagine sitting down in your finest to watch some ballet, only to have the opening act being your dad in a tutu flailing around like a salmon. Sure the ballet afterwords is beautiful, but can you survive the opening act to see it?