Developed By: NExT Studios
Published By: NExT Studios, META Publishing
Platforms: Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
Biped without a doubt has its charms. It has pleasing graphics and a very simple mechanic that governs the entire game. The game puts itself in the same co-op genre alongside other well-known titles. If Overcooked has you testing your memory and speed management then Biped has you testing your movement senses. Much like Overcooked and the latest addition to the genre, Moving Out, Biped thrives in co-op. While it is possible to play it solo, nothing beats having a discussion with another person when solving puzzles.
Beacons and Bots
Biped’s story is awfully simplistic much like the entire package of the game. The broadcasting beacons around a planet has mysteriously gone offline. Two bipedal robots or biped bots named Aku and Sila are tasked to get those beacons back online. As you would have expected, you and another player will be taking control of these bots.
Much like the rest of the Biped population, Aku and Sila main distinct features are their pair of robot legs. The only difference is on how they look. Their design definitely took many cues from Wall-E characters. Both bots differ in their eye-lights and shape. Aku is square-shaped with blue light while Sila is more rounded with pink lights. Any Wall-E fan might find their design adoring and likeable. The game also features customization items which are hats which can be purchased using coins. You can earn these coins by completing puzzles, opening chests or breaking barrels that are scattered around each area.
Relighting One Leg At A Time
The game has physics-based mechanics which heavily relies on how you move and control objects using the legs. Knowing the controls is actually very simple. Each side of the analogue stick represents the legs of the bots respectively. The tricky part however comes in controlling them. Unlike other games when pushing forward the left stick means moving a character. In Biped, you need to attune to how one actually walks. You need to move each stick one step at a time, much like walking in real life. This will definitely throw-off many players as it will take a bit of getting used to. Thankfully, the game allows you to slide around by pushing both sticks forward. However, this only works on smooth surfaces hence not every area allows you to have that luxury.
Once you have understood how to move, you will use it to the full extent on the many puzzles you’ll encounter and the majority of the environments is based around this mechanic. There will be many moving platforms, rolling cylinders, shape-based password platforms, falling platforms as well as timed contraptions that requires precise control and timing. It may seem like there is plenty of platforming but rest assured the range isn’t that huge. That means you don’t have to worry that you will be too overwhelmed while some of us may find that walking in itself is a challenge. Nonetheless, many of these puzzles are unique and definitely utilized to some extent, the use of the game’s interesting control mechanics.
One of my favourite ones is where you will be controlling a small boat by moving both legs individually and you need to save two other bots from getting pulled by a large waterfall. It is equally fun and frustrating as taking control of the boat is not easy even if you have managed to get the walking correctly. The sheer amount of effort to put in and the success of passing a tough obstacle does make you feel good. However, that feeling itself can be rather short-lived. This is especially true when you are playing it alone. As mentioned before, nothing will come close to having a short bicker or cooperative discussion with someone else.
Cutesy Pixar Way
The game’s visuals are pleasing to the eye. One look and you can tell this is a game that can be played with kids or with a groupies. If Pixar decided to have dab in game development there is a possibility they might adopt this kind of graphical approach. There are 8 areas in the entire game. Each of them are distinctively different from one another. There are areas that have you be on top of giant trees and many greeneries around to represent the jungle area while there is another with snowy mountains that are packed with caves and of course snow.
While I am not exactly a huge fan of this graphical approach, I do agree that it fits with the theme of the game. One gripe I do have is the occasional screen tearing which I tend to notice a lot especially during screen transitioning from one section of the area to another. It is not a game-breaking issue but it certainly caught my attention more often than not.
Simple but Too Light
Simplicity screams around this game. However, I do feel the developers are skimping through a lot of things which can be potentially good for them. For starters, there isn’t any other extra modes. There is only one mode to select which is considered to be the game’s story mode which is divided between solo and co-op. Furthermore, progress in solo and co-op are separated, if you have completed solo, the progress will not be reflected on the co-op side and vice versa.
The only reasoning I can see is because some of the puzzles do require a partner to execute which in the solo mode, you will be given an AI to assist you. It will definitely be great if you can invite other players during a part in the solo mode while you can immediately choose a different area in the co-op without needing to replay from the start.
Another gripe I have is some of the puzzles themselves, while many of them are innovative but they are certainly cut short in its value. I can understand that there is a need for a balance without putting too much frustration on players but many of them felt like they have not reached its fullest potential. Furthermore, completing them does feel less rewarding as the only goal is just to move forward. It will be great if these puzzles have a certain time challenge and depending on how fast you complete, you will be rewarded.
That way, it gives players to keep wanting to try again in order to solve them in a different approach. You will not need to force players to complete and move forward but you will entice and encourage them for different approaches and be rewarded for it.
Speaking of rewards, the customizable hats for the biped bots are far too little and uninteresting. The developers could add some really cool ones or even add some that can change the entire appearance of bots. These rewards can also be tied to some of the puzzles as rewards based on how well or fast you do. Furthermore, I felt it wouldn’t hurt to add more customization options such as changing the colours of the bots.
The story is also rather short and almost non-existent. There are only 2 cut scenes in the entire game, one at the start of the game and one once you finish the game. Puzzle games don’t exactly need an elaborate storytelling however, it will still be good to know that what you are doing has some weight to the story and there is actually some effect to the plot one way or another.
What I Liked
- Clever use of mechanics.
- Levels are innovative. explores the usage of the simple mechanic
- Simple controls curbs the amount of time to learn
- Puzzles cater to both solo and co-op though feels better for co-op
- Decent but cute looking graphics
What I Didn’t Like
- Can be completed with 4-5 hours straight
- Story is simple and almost non-existent
- Character customization is very little
- Puzzles seems like a one time off, many of them felt short. Could have been able to expand further.
- Only one mode to play
- Solo and co-op mode progress are not shared
- There are some screen tearing during transitions.
What Can Be Improved
- Expand further on the puzzles.
- Add in more game modes.
- Additional customization for bots would be great.
- Allow for quick access to co-op instead of separating them.
- Add in more challenge like time-based ones & make them feel more rewarding.
Biped is a fun game and there is so much potential it could go to. It is understandable that there may be some limitations for developers to include things in the game. Hence, I hope NExT Studios will definitely come up with a sequel or maybe a different puzzle game that derives around such control scheme but with more options and content to play around. There are definitely on to something here and it will be a shame if they didn’t continue to expand in this area.