March 14, 2015 8:00 AM | Joel Couture
It is the year 30XX. A thousand years have passed since Beats first came to power in a fixed election, passing sweeping legislation that would solidify their rule and grant them God-like power over the fate of the Shape populace. The peaceful Shapes can only look on in horror as their peaceful, geometrically pleasing world is torn apart, their people enslaved to dance for the amusement of the Beats. Chained in deadly nightclubs, they cavort endlessly into the evening, prancing for their cruel masters as the music reShapes and enslaves them. A solitary band of four Shapes manages to shake the music's power over them, planning an escape to a promised land outside of the power of Beats. Will they live? Is the promised land real? Did I just make all of this up? You can only find out by playing Berzerk Games' Just Shapes & Beats.
Just Shapes & Beats is all about trying to get from left to right without the music tearing your poor shape to shreds. The Indie Games Live demo used some pounding chiptunes from Danimal Cannon to set up the gameplay, filling the screen with bursting effects, pulsing lines, and dozens of shots from other shapes that hopped and bounced in time to the music. The game's attacks all move with the track as you play, so if you have a good ear or excellent taste in chiptunes, you may already know what's coming. Still, there are rarely many safe spots on the screen as it fills with deadly music.
If you've played any bullet hell shmups, this will seem like familiar stuff, but you have no way of fighting back against your attackers. Your only power is a short dash, and I managed to fling myself into trouble more times than I got myself out of it. Luckily, other players can revive you just by touching your body before it autoscrolls off screen or by crossing the game's checkpoints. You can also take a few hits, so screwing up the beat doesn't always mean death, but when you're facing off against a huge, dancing monstrosity that's filling the screen with shots, those lives don't always matter much. With its developers designing new levels every week live on Twitch (and you can submit music to them if you're interested), there will be no shortage of stages for those interested in mingling music and gameplay. Just expect to die a lot in these dangerous nightclubs of the distant future.
For more information on Just Shapes & Beats and Berzerk Studio, you can head to the game's site or follow it on Facebook and Twitter, or head to the developer's site and follow them on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and Twitter.