BPM: Bullets Per Minute Kicks Multiple Kinds of Backside

Yours, mostly.

BPM Bullets Per Minute
BPM Bullets Per Minute

I am bad at BPM: Bullets Per Minute. Very bad. I used to think I possessed a sense of rhythm, but I really, really don’t, something that I discovered the hard way after my fifth consecutive death at the hands of a flying bat. But I still love it.

BPM: Bullets Per Minute ticks almost every box I have when it comes to my taste in FPS games, as well as indies in general. An amazing, almost oppressively heavy soundtrack? Check. Random generation with rogue-like mechanics? Yep. A crushing difficulty? Oh my yes.

You play as a Valkyrie as they look to clear dungeon after dungeon of monsters, which is one of the most metal setups I think I’ve ever heard of. BPM isn’t just your average dungeon crawler, though: almost everything you do has to be to the beat of music.

You are given a scrolling bar of notes just beneath your gun that gives you an idea of when you should shoot your gun and even reload, though there will come a time during a run when you will pick up the beat naturally. Failure to hit the note will result in no action being taken, so if you’re shooting at a room full of demons and miss the note while trying to gun them down, say goodbye to your run.

You start off with just a simple pistol, basically a peashooter that can get the job done but becomes less and less viable the deeper into the depths you plunge. Slow-firing and not all that effective, you can still rack up quite the streak by enthusiastically following the beat and doing more than just repeating the drum loop. Music composition is not one of my brightest knowledge spots, so I won’t embarrass myself by talking about half-beats or octaves or whatever and will just say that it’s hella fun to get into a rhythm and start shooting demons down.

This can be quite tricky, though, especially as you need always be on the move thanks to BPM’s projectile-firing enemies and affinity for absolutely stuffing rooms full of monsters. Moving while following the beat might cause your brain to struggle if your brain is as smooth as mine apparently is — trying to do multiple, beat-based things in a row seems to snap a wire in my mind.

I am, in all shameful honesty, absolutely awful at BPM: Bullets Per Minute. Just awful. The game gives you two difficulty options: easy and hard. Guess which one I chose. BPM: Bullets Per Minute doesn’t take any prisoners, even on the more forgiving difficulty. Almost the perfect example of this is when I finally bested a boss after plenty of toil, used a key to get a new powerup and then somehow died because of said powerup in a room devoid of enemies. I did not understand.

BPM: Bullets Per Minute
BPM: Bullets Per Minute

BPM: Bullets Per Minute has powerups and even a currency system, which can be used to buy new guns. I managed to get my hands on a big, beefy revolver at one point and it felt immediately more empowering, each shot having a nice heft comparing to the meek “pew” of the starting pistol. Trouble is, it took a lot longer to reload, BPM also making you insert bullets back into the chamber one by one to the beat of the music.

You lose everything upon death, but there is an interesting bank system in which you can deposit your coins and then pick them up again for the next run. BPM seems to have a load of neat little twists, whether that’s your character affectionately tapping their gun when they get a new one or a finishing flourish when you kill a boss. It’s absolutely packed with personality and I find it to be effortlessly charming, despite the pain.

However, and this could be dismissed as me being a bad scrub, which you would probably be right to do so, but I feel like BPM’s shooting could do with a little bit of work, or at least a bit more of an explanation as to how it works, especially when it comes to the starting gun. Sometimes you can shoot enemies from far away, other times you cannot. Similarly, the gun locks on, though I don’t always feel like this works as I still seem to sometimes miss.

Even if I am immensely terrible at it, BPM: Bullets Per Minute is one game that I can see myself scraping and crawling my way through until the shame stops. It’s certainly addictive and, when you’re not getting shat on, wildly fun. Judging from what I’ve played so far, BPM could be one of 2020’s most innovative games when it releases this September.

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