Developed By: NEXT Studios
Published By: Postmeta Games
Category: Adventure, Puzzle, Platformer, Arcade
Release Date: 07.02.20
Is there anything in the world more frustrating than a platformer with imprecise, inconsistent controls? Well, yeah, probably – but not in the gaming world. Today’s review, Biped for the Nintendo Switch, has so many good things going for it. The colorful, cartoony graphics, environmental-minded story, and art design remind me in the best possible way of WALL-E. There are some fun cosmetic items to unlock for your Biped robot buddy. The bright graphics would make for an amazing game to play co-op with a friend or a kid if you have one. But good lord are these controls janky, and for a platformer that’s really the kiss of death.
The premise of the control scheme is pretty neat; it’s actually somewhat similar to the controls from a zany multiplayer game that I recently played and really liked, Totally Reliable Delivery Service. In that one, each arm was controlled by one of the trigger buttons. Here in Biped, you control your legs with the thumb sticks. The left stick controls your left leg, and the right stick controls the right leg, and you have to walk by alternating moving the sticks. You can also point both sticks in the same direction simultaneously, and that will activate a skating function. That only works on flat surfaces, however; if there are any uneven areas of a surface, you’re gonna get stuck.
After a few hours spent with the game, I honestly just couldn’t find a consistent rhythm to enable me to walk smoothly. Many of the game’s puzzles – or at least enough to be a source of frustration – require you to be able to smoothly and quickly move across moving platforms or in front of moving obstacles that will push you off the side of a platform if don’t go fast enough. It felt more like a stroke of luck than a matter of skill whenever I managed to make it past these obstacles because I could never hit a natural rhythm with my steps. I was slightly more comfortable with the controls using a Pro controller, but that may just be because the Pro is my preferred controller in general.
Also frustrating are the surfaces your feet can get caught up in; after the tutorial level, you’ll begin encountering platforms that collapse after you walk over them. Now, they don’t collapse right away – you’ve got a few seconds. But if you hit the platforms just wrong, they become misaligned to the point where you can’t skate over them, but if you try, your feet will get caught under them and you can’t really get them unstuck fast enough to recover, and down you fall with the platform. Respawning is instantaneous, so it’s not the biggest deal breaker, but it gets old being stuck on the same obstacle for a long time – especially when you can’t find any way to consistently manipulate the control scheme.
There are some high points in the gameplay; several puzzles don’t require any of the platforming or movement elements that I found so frustrating. The puzzles requiring you to manipulate switches or buttons aren’t exactly original or challenging to figure out, but at least they’re consistent. And as I said in the opener, the graphics are bright, attractive, and just generally charming as heck. I didn’t get to spend any time trying out the co-op mode (social distancing and whatnot), but I had enough trouble just moving around in the single player mode that I’m not sure how much I’d want to subject a friend to Biped’s controls. Sadly, if you’re looking to build a library for your post-COVID game nights, this isn’t a game I can recommend very highly.
Digital – $14.99
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*A game code was provided for review purposes.