Game Review | Beat Hazard
Much like Audiosurf, Beat Hazard is reliant on the user and their choice of music to enjoy themselves the most. The basic gameplay is there, but it's a music-dependent title and what you pick will define how good of a time you have.
Well... mostly, I suppose. The game does tend to be more action-packed with higher-paced and more aggressive music, but there are sometimes strange lulls in the action leaving your little spaceship floating around with nothing to shoot at for lengthy stretches of time.
And these aren't pre-set periods to allow you breathers - the music can still be going just as strongly as usual and enemies will just not show up. Occasionally it can be useful and allow you to relax for a moment, but just be aware that there's no real pattern to them.
That's really one of the issues with the enemies in general: they just seem to appear at random. Yes, more enemies tend to appear in response to faster, louder music, but what type of ships show up for you to shoot seems just as random as the pauses.
This can happen within the same song, with a chorus spawning one wave of enemies, and then a repeat of the exact same chorus later on can be an empty screen, more of the same type, other types of ships, or even bosses.
The bosses are fun though, utterly dwarfing your ship as the screen shakes with their arrival. Doubly so if they arrive during a 'hot' section of the song and you have the firepower to really cut loose - I should mention here that how much damage you can put out also depends on the music.
There has been more than one occasion when a song has hit a quiet section and a boss shows up, leaving me plinking away at it from a distance while putting out a barely-visible stream of weapon fire. Equally, there has also been occasion when two bosses have spawned and been demolished in seconds thanks to the music gifting me with the energy output of a small star.
Unfortunately that does lead to probably Beat Hazard's biggest issue: the randomness might be puzzling at times, but when the music gets going and you can unload an entire fleet's worth of gunfire in seconds, it can be easy for the screen to get more than a little crowded.
Check the screenshot just above and try to find my ship - it's the tiny thing in the bottom-left corner. And just think: I moved it there so it would be visible. It's entirely possible for you to be in the middle of all that light and not have a clue where you are.
This is fine if you've taken out all the enemies close to you, but that conflagration can sometimes cover the entire screen - including when unblockable projectiles are heading your way. They can - and will - get lost in that mess and blow up your ship, which you probably won't even realise until the screen clears.
I will admit that the furious chaos can be thrilling at times, and especially once you've played through a song once as the waves of enemies won't change on repeat plays. Knowing what's coming does make it fun, but that first time through can be a pain if you die with no way of avoiding it.
Beat Hazard is fun, but only in small doses. It relies a little too much on the player finding the right music to stop the game becoming almost unplayable at times due to how much is happening on-screen - thrills and frustration can occur in the same song here.