Archives by Day

May 2024


Platform(s): PC
Genre: Rhythm
Publisher: Kwalee
Developer: Simon Fredholm
Release Date: May 16, 2024


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PC Preview - 'Robobeat'

by Cody Medellin on April 15, 2024 @ 7:00 a.m. PDT

Robobeat is a rogue-lite rhythm shooter where it's all about maximizing your damage by shooting to the beat.

Rhythm and action have been proving to be a good mix of game genres over the past few years. The VR space has Pistol Whip for those who want to make music with guns. Beat-'em-ups have Hi-Fi Rush delivering a quirky story with timed platforming and robot bashing. First-person action gets Metal: Hellsinger for those who want to cut down demons with swords while banging their heads. The last game is what inspires Robobeat, and based on what we've seen in the latest preview build, it's done a fine job of taking the base mechanics and adding a distinct spin.

In Robobeat, you play the role of Ace, a robotic bounty hunter that specializes in taking down other robots. Your latest gig sends you after Frazzer, a fancy robot that fancies himself to be a showman. The trail leads you to his lair, but you quickly fall into a trap as you fall to the lower levels of his base, forcing you to climb back up and finish your job.

At its core, Robobeat is a first-person shooter with roguelike mechanics. You choose your weapons and powers and then select any unlocked chapter. The rooms get randomized, and while the layouts don't differ too much, the enemies do. Clear out a room, choose a path with different effects, and repeat the process until you come across a boss and key to the next chapter — or die trying. Your loadout resets upon death, but any bits you had carry forward, so you can unlock more weapons and buffs for future runs. It's a well-worn formula now that roguelikes have become so popular, but the formula hasn't grown tired yet.

There are a few features to make Robobeat stand out. The first are the weapons, which have some real variety. There's conventional stuff like revolvers and others that are a little unconventional, like crossbows. You'll eventually run into guns, like bouncers that have their bullets ricochet once when hitting a floor or a wall. Then there are the odd ones, like a ping pong paddle that produces an explosive when you swing multiple times in succession. Guns aren't the only thing you can wield, though, as you can get swords and axes for your fight, which significantly alter the strategy. The coolest part is that you're always dual-wielding weapons no matter the type, so choosing a bad weapon doesn't make the run harder since you'll always have an alternative available. The only thing you can't do is attack with both weapons at the same time, so you can't cleave one enemy while simultaneously putting a bullet in them.

The dual-wielding mechanic is nice, but the game also has a good deal of mobility to make your kills look stylish, complete with a tracker to keep tabs of what cool moves you've done and what you haven't accomplished yet. You immediately have access to a double-jump and a slide to avoid spike traps and reach areas with lowered doors, respectively. Parrying is also something you get fairly soon, and you'll later get access to things like a hook-shot to swing around levels and do some wall-running. It's reminiscent of games like Neon White — minus the need to sacrifice anything for the maneuver.

The real hook, as alluded to before, is that the game is a rhythm-based shooter. Before you start a run, you'll be asked to choose which cassette tape you want to play. That choice is important, as it determines the beat and cadence of the rhythm. Attacking on rhythm is essential to scoring a good deal of damage on a foe, and it lessens any sort of reload time for the given weapon. Firing off-beat results in a longer reload time and less damage being inflicted. You can turn off this rhythm feature, and the game will pretend that everything you're using is always on-beat, but while that may seem like the easy way out, the challenge is still present, as it feels like enemies compensate by hitting harder. One neat thing is that all of the tracks are rock-inspired thus far, and you can obtain new music on any run, but you can also change out each track at any time. This is awesome, as you're no longer stuck trying to decipher the beats of a song you don't like while also ensuring that you can make the game easier or tougher with slower or faster beat counts.

The soundtrack is good, but one awesome feature to see at launch is the ability to import your own songs. Provided you're using an MP3, Ogg Vorbis, or WAV file, you can make the song available in the game as an individual cassette, or you can add it to a mixtape where songs play in a random order. You don't need to do much to make the song viable in your game, as the built-in mechanics will tell what the beat count should be, but you can edit the song in-game to get rid of silent parts or reach the desired beats sooner. The only limitation so far is that you'll need to have those music files on hand. In a world where most people stream their music, this might prove to be a limiting factor for the feature, unless players start thinking old school and rip or download the tracks that they want.

One interesting side effect about the custom music ability is that Robobeat doesn't force you to start from scratch when going between devices. For example, we created a mixtape on a Linux PC with MP3s. Moving over to a Windows 11 PC, the mixtape and related individual tracks were already imported thanks to Steam's cloud save feature. There was no need to find the MP3s again, even though the directory locations didn't match. The same thing happened when going to a Steam Deck, which is a godsend because importing there would've been harder while using the virtual keyboard and trackpad. It is an awesome feature that we hope sticks around in the final build.

With the gameplay mechanics being solid thus far, it should be noted that the story leans toward the mysterious. The basic conceit is straightforward, but the opening cut scene talks about robots that want to learn and upgrade themselves. USB drives give you a bit of banter and backstory that seem to go all over the place, and there are moments in the game that taunt you about discovering your real identity. There are even cut scenes that feel out of place, like loud noises being heard while two kids are playing as robots with semi-elaborate cardboard costumes in a basement. It's weird but also intriguing, and you want to see where it's all heading.

Robobeat has the potential to be up there with Metal: Hellsinger as an awesome first-person rhythm game. The use of guns as instruments of rhythm is a natural fit, but the inclusion of some offbeat weapons makes the runs feel more intriguing. The music is great to listen to, but the ease of importing your own tracks across multiple devices makes this a godsend for rhythm fans. We'll wait for the final build before doling out a verdict, but based on what we've played thus far, players should expect a sleeper hit.

More articles about Robobeat
blog comments powered by Disqus