Some of the best games find creative ways to overcome limitations. Just because you might not have a huge budget, unlimited opportunity, massive staff or more, it doesn’t prevent you from making an amazing game. Creative ideas can sometimes withstand the test of time or simply offer an idea that many people want to experience. This was the guiding concept behind BPM: Bullets Per Minute, the interesting first person shooter that asks players to do everything as long as they step to the beat. It’s an interesting concept but is it enough to sell the game?
Unlike most games, BPM: Bullets Per Minute cuts out a lot of the fat. There isn’t an in-depth story that you’re a funky angel that has to kill creatures to the groove of the night, deep mythology of the world or even an explanation of what is going on. All players are initially told is that they need to complete a calibration.
This process takes approximately two minutes, one for button detection and another minute for a hearing test, to determine both the latency and your skill level. Depending on the results, you’ll either get strict timing, normal or more relaxed. These can be changed at any time, it’s really more of a suggestion, but it might help to ease into it.
Players start with one character, four difficulty settings and essentially no explanation on how anything works. This might sound taxing, it can be confusing if you don’t realize you need to enter rooms to proceed, otherwise you do everything (dodge, shoot, reload, etc) based off the beat.
As a result, things can seem rather slow. Everything moves at a fixed pace, one determined by the song in question. Where things start to get hard is the proficiency needed to succeed, along with how everything works.
Unlike a lot of games, BPM: Bullets Per Minute expects the same both players and enemies. This is most obvious with things like shockwaves, as they slowly move in increments based off the speed of the song. Mistakes are also not tolerated. Getting hit once or twice could easily result in death, making it increasingly important to know what, how and when something is going to attack. Not only is this hard, it also needs to be done while maintaining your beat in some capacity.
All of these things, combined with different layouts, weapons and other mechanics determining how successful a run is. Given this is an arena shooter like Doom, it can be especially hard with a controller. Every move you make counts, with getting caught against a wall is more than enough to end your run before it begins, though this is also the fun.
It’s supposed to feel like a massive learning curve that slowly rewards players who figure out how enemies attack or what they need to do specifically. One run you might die in room one, then make it to the boss, only to then repeat the process in the next area.
What makes this all work is the sense that you’re doing something wrong, coupled with it being less intimidating when you know what to do. The first boss gave me a fair amount of challenge, until I learned its cycle of attacks and simply started playing smarter. After it becomes second nature, it slowly becomes more fun as the challenge decreases.
Still, there are other limitations. Everything has a red hue that makes it feel like hell, though absolutely takes away from the experience. It can be improved, in some cases even limited, though it is really difficult to look at. There is also a general lack of polish, weird animations, floaty elements and more that will not appeal to everyone.
BPM: Bullets Per Minute Verdict
Simply put, BPM: Bullets Per Minute does a good job of being more than the sum of its parts, though not enough where it transcends things. It’s absolutely a game that will either hook you or break your controller before giving up. I’d suggest trying it out or possibly study a video, as it’s fun but also an investment.
[Editor’s Note: BPM: Bullets Per Minute was reviewed on PlayStation 5 and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.]