If you’re excited for Metal: Hellsinger and other similar upcoming games, then there’s a recently released game that could potentially tide you over depending on your feelings about rogue-lite tropes and their execution. BPM: Bullets Per Minute is another rhythm-based first-person shooter developed and published by Awe Interactive. It’s not exactly beginner-friendly and has some apparent flaws, but provides a worthy challenge for those who prefer games with naturally higher difficulty levels.
While the story in BPM has nothing more to it than just Valkyries trying to defend Asgard from the invading forces of the underworld, the real meat of it is the gameplay. Shooting and defeating enemies while keeping the beat and traversing through randomly generated rooms is the goal. Understanding the gameplay isn’t too difficult but enemies seem to have a large amount of health even in Easy mode. Luckily, for those rhythmically challenged, they can change the beat rules from strict to loose and can even turn on auto rhythm, allowing you to shoot enemies more freely. Unfortunately, this only helps a little since the enemies still keep the same amount of health and the starting pistol is not a very good weapon overall, but the timing changes do make it more accessible overall.
Additionally, enemies tend to deplete a large amount of your health — ranging from around a quarter to about half — when they hit you even at the start, and since you can’t really change this setting there’s a bit of a difficulty curve to get through in the first level. These attacks aren’t particularly easy to dodge, especially when you’re in a room full of enemies and dealing with multiple projectiles and jumping enemies. Being able to Dash and sprint does help, but when you’re in a room chock-full of enemies attacking you, you can only dodge for so long before you end up getting hit if you haven’t obtained a good weapon or some beneficial power-ups. It can also be pretty embarrassing when a baby bat or spider kills you before you can get to them because you were focusing on other enemies.
You can sometimes obtain new guns from chests, which help immensely in the first level. Honestly, if I hadn’t picked up the shotgun I’m not sure I would have even been able to eventually get through the first level. You also only have one weapon equipped at a time, forcing you to choose wisely. Power-ups can also be obtained from chests or power up rooms if you’re lucky These can really give you an advantage. BPM doesn’t have a lock-on mechanic like other FPS games, so I find the Deadeye Lens to be one of the most helpful items, particularly for trickier enemies and bosses.
Additionally, coins can be dropped by fallen enemies and be found in chests. You can use them to purchase weapons, power-ups, and health recovery. Purchasing these items from shops gives you loyalty points, granting you discounts in the future. I do feel like you rarely have enough coins to purchase weapons and power-ups though due to the fact that refilling your health is cheaper and seems more beneficial for struggling players (at least in the beginning) . I would have preferred a system where you gained some health back after defeating an enemy that hit you so you can focus on using your coins to purchase weapons and power-ups instead.
After each room, you’ll get a rating of either flawless clear, good clear, ok clear, or just room clear. The better your clear rating, the higher your score will get. Of course, flawless clears can be pretty easy to get if you’re in a room with very few enemies and have a good weapon and power-up combination, but it’s not always guaranteed.
Once you defeat the boss of a level, you can progress to the next level, which also unlocks a new character with a different starting weapon. Although getting to unlock a new character with a better weapon is beneficial, you don’t unlock the next level, and you have to start back from the beginning on every run. I understand that they want to have roguelike elements, but I found this aspect to be particularly annoying in BPM when it can take so long to get through the first level in the first place because of just how bad the pistol is as a weapon and because depending on the run you may not be lucky enough to find or purchase another weapon. I feel like being able to either return to the level you died on and not have to go through all the previous levels again would be beneficial, and if not that maybe being able to choose a new weapon as long as you’ve unlocked it so you aren’t always stuck with the starting weapon.
Since the only two difficulty modes are Easy and Hard, I really think BPM would have benefited from some type of practice mode. A least an easier difficulty that could be used as a practice mode. It could let players learn how to properly deal with and dodge specific enemies. Players could try out a variety of different weapons so that they’ll know what guns and abilities work best for them.
While the graphical style is rather unique, it’s definitely not for everyone and can be hard on the eyes. Turning down the saturation for each level makes looking at BPM a little easier though. Of course, the soundtrack is where BPM really shines, unfortunately, due to the early difficulty curve, you might be listening to the same song a little too much. Luckily, the music is just good enough for it to take a while to get annoying, but any song can get annoying eventually if you’ve heard it too many times in a short period.
Hopefully, BPM: Bullets Per Minute improves over time with updates and eventually sees a multiplatform release once it has done so. It’s still a fun time, but as it is right now I would recommend it mostly for the more hardcore players who prefer games with more challenging difficulty levels and shorter experiences (average playtime is about 2.5 hours according to How Long to Beat if you’re focusing on getting through just the main campaign without extras).