Biped is going to live or die on whether or not your patience is in a perfect balance with your persistence. This physics-focused puzzle platformer from NExT Studios has one very specific mechanic and well, you’re either going to be fully on board with its intricacies or you’re not. After a series of either feeling accomplished after finally clearing a tricky puzzle or nearly drop-kicking my DualShock 4 into the sun I realised that beyond anything else, Biped was allowing me to focus on something. It felt like it had been a while since I had to really focus on a video game in order to progress.
That’s not to say it’s exactly Sherlockian in its mind-bending difficulty. You’re not going to need to be a member of Mensa to get through Biped, but you will need to perhaps slow down and take it easy. Biped doesn’t particularly appreciate being rushed through and you can understand why when there are only seven levels to work your way through. Each level certainly presents their own unique challenges, but it’s difficult to not feel a little underwhelmed once you stumble upon the level select screen.
So what are you up to in Biped? You play as a smol android attempting to relight the unlit beacons across Earth thanks to a cosmic anomaly that wiped them all out. It’s up to you and your fellow robot pals to bring the lights back to Earth through a series of puzzles and physics challenges, obviously. It all makes perfect sense. To do this you control your left leg with the left analogue stick and the right leg with the right analogue stick, and they must work in tandem with each other in order to navigate the bright and colourful if somewhat scarce levels. The controls are immediately puzzling, though working them out is as satisfying a moment as I’ve had in gaming this year.
Once I was able to stroll around with ease it all fell into place. The rhythm of movement is crucial as you explore the puzzles that require you to either stand on one leg, both legs, move off platforms with only one leg, copy the actions of a villainous Biped in order to cross a platform that would otherwise send you hurtling into the infinite abyss. You’ll soon be Michael Scott on the ice after spending perhaps far too long doing particularly impressive Bambi impressions.
Still, a good amount of ‘screaming at lots of tiny pixels on a screen just trying to entertain you’ is eliminated thanks to the skate function, which allows you to glide over flat surfaces without the need for cumbersome controls. It’s a genuine relief at certain moments, even if I did still find myself using this time without falling platforms nearby to perfect the games more traditional mechanics.
And throughout Biped has this nasty habit of keeping your attention, even when you want to shout in its face to learn some social distancing etiquette. The puzzles are well designed, using weight distribution, colour, balance and the fun mechanic of picking up other Bipeds and throwing them on pressure pads joining perhaps only one of your legs to ensure the ‘three leg’ passcode has been reached, with you stretched out across two pads. NExT persistently find new ways to use Biped’s mechanics in puzzles that will have you scratching your head. There’s a great sense of aforementioned accomplishment when you clear a particularly tricky area, the kind of thing puzzle games like this are so very well versed in. Biped has certainly taken the torch and ran with it.
In solo, Biped is fun but there’s little that really keeps you coming back. The frustration that comes with repeatedly failing a puzzle isn’t fun to experience on your lonesome, and though the sense of relief is still present and correct it’s no surprise Biped is sold as a purely co-op experience (albeit local only, much to my annoyance). When played with a friend on the sofa Biped descends into hilarious anarchy, mocking each other for failing to stand up straight on a platform or moving an inch too far to the left so you fall to your death for the hundredth time. There’s certainly an amount of ‘ok,we have to do this, this isn’t funny anymore’ that comes along with Biped’s primary campaign, and certainly feels like a wholly different experience than playing it solo.
It’s a shame then there’s the odd framerate issue which prevents Biped from being an essential purchase. It’s not a gamebreaker but it’s evident the technical side of the game still needed a little spit and polish before release. One hopes that can be fixed down the line.
There’s certainly fun to be had with a mate/partner/postman in Biped, but there’s very little here to have you playing for any more than a weekend. Once the levels are complete there’s the odd unlock that doesn’t justify prioritising Biped over the likes of Jackbox or Overcooked. If you’re on your own you’ll find little joy in ploughing your way through the adjusted solo campaign, which is more infuriating than infatuating.
Biped is available now on PS4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro)
Developer: NExT Studios
Pubsliher: NEXT Studios / META Publishing
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.
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