May 28, 2024
Guns and grooves galore, Robobeat is an upbeat and energised entry into the rhythm shooter space. The Finger Guns review:

Here’s a weird hypothetical for you: if Robocop and Peter Crouch had a (likely cursed) lovechild, what would you get? Probably not Robobeat, but also probably something not too far off. Liverpool striker sensation Crouch was always partial to dropping some robot-like shapes, after all. Anyway, strange intro aside, welcome to Robobeat, the next in a lengthening line of frenetic rhythm shooters.

A first-person shooter with hyped techno beats, thrilling combat and an abundant suite of unique weapons, Robobeat seemingly has it all. Does it have the musical chops to reach Darude Sandstorm fame or match that killer Make It Burn Dem level back when Far Cry was great? Only one way to find out.

Whip out your revolver, throw on your mixtape Starlord style and let’s get to the rootin’, tootin’, groovin’ and shootin’, shall we?

Your Moves, So Robotic

I previewed Robobeat way back at EGX 2023 and safe to say, I was thoroughly impressed then. Metal: Hellsinger meets Ghostrunner, what’s not to drop the bass for? The final version of Robobeat lives up to this styling with aplomb. As Ace, your job as a bounty hunter is to (shockingly) hunt down your mark and claim your prize.

To do so, you’ll run the gauntlet of five “pathways”, each building on top of the other. The first pathway ends after the first biome and boss, the second pathway after the second and so on, so forth. This is a rogue-like, so each death means beginning anew on your pathway. To hit your mark, you’ll need to clear every biome and every boss in one gloriously rhythmic run. Sounds daunting, no?

Well, it should. Robobeat is no slouch in the difficulty department, which I say endearingly. I cleared the first four pathways inside two hours, and then proceeded to get train wrecked for next three hours on the fifth. It’s like when you’re at the club and the DJ is building up the crescendo to that song you just love, only for the bass to drop into an entirely different song.

The uptick in skill requirement I found to be welcome, even despite my buttocks being thoroughly handed to me on a plate. Enemies become tougher, with harder varieties appearing in bigger hordes, the higher your pathway number. You gain new tools, weapons and means to defeat them, but they’ll always be a challenge, which makes Robobeat just so satisfying to overcome.

RoboBeat review

This Is The Rhythm Of The… Ping Pong?!

So, challenging rogue-like design where you die a lot and repeat is accounted for, great. What about the rhythmic banging and booming? Well, they’re pretty great too. I mean, first off, you can get a ping pong paddle that fires exploding balls, what else do I need to say? “That’s a paddling”, I’d assume. Aside from that, the gunplay and syncing of inputs feels spot on, which is essential.

You can tune the synchronicity and there’s a host of accessibility options, including turning off the need to be on beat. I liked how you can also adjust the reticle to various styles, though sneakily Robobeat will turn it off once you seemingly ‘git gud’ enough. This makes Robobeat a great entry point into rogue-likes and rhythm shooters, as the demands are less taxing than some others.

Equally, the options in terms of weapons and abilities is pretty staggering. During runs you’ll acquire blueprints, which you can then spend currency on to unlock. Die during a run before cashing your blueprint and currency, too bad, you’ll need to reacquire them again. Once a weapon or ability is unlocked, you can then have them turn up in any subsequent run.

The secret sauce of a great rogue-like is the push-and-pull of persistent progress versus in-run rewards you risk losing. Robobeat has a great blend of cathartic moments as you scramble to survive with one HP to invest your credits. Alongside this, are the instances of agonising failure, as a rogue homing grenade cuts your mixtape off mid-euphoria moment.

RoboBeat review

Sleight Of Robotic Hand

Like many rhythm shooters, Robobeat matches most of the game to the beat itself. Thankfully for the player, this is mainly just shooting. Abilities and dashes you can use at will, a nice concession indeed. Your parry and charge however, must also be on beat. The parry mechanic especially is so uber satisfying, effectively allowing you unlimited “you shall not pass” moments, if you’re good enough.

I wasn’t. At least at first. Robobeat is a persistent bassline though, as ascending through the pathways makes these skills imperative to success. Towards the backend of my time with the game, I’d even tinkered with clearing rooms just with the parry. When a mechanic works so well you only want to use just that, you know it’s good. Like playing the same song on repeat for three months until you enter a begrudging pact with it forever.

As I mentioned before, there are a lot of weapons to spray-and-pray while headbanging to the tunes. Over 50, in fact. Whether you’re inflicting shock on the faceless wisps or lighting them up with a flare gun, you’ll be having a ball. My personal favourite was a spurious combo of Ping Pong and Contact, the latter of which pings shot across multiple enemies.

Hit a parry, charge a shot and unleash a glorious beam of utter destruction upon a room of enemies. I’ve not played much quite as satisfying, it must be said. The fact there’s wall-running, skating, dashing, sliding and a pumped up movement system only adds to the fun. Being airborne is about as necessary as the techno lights accompanying a Drum n’ Bass night. Nailing a headshot while airborne? Now, that’s a winner.

Robobeat review

Drum N’ Bullets

While the gunplay and feel of Robobeat are superb, there is a lack of real diversity in enemy types and locations. Each of the biomes is distinct in note, but the overall tune feels too similar, causing them to mesh together into a less interesting melody. Enemy variety starts off well but tails off after just a few runs, too. What’s already here does more than enough, but a few more additions would be welcome.

Equally, there are one or two opponents I felt could do with some balancing. The twin-bladed orange dudes in biome two are merciless. On higher difficulties, they’ll charge and swamp your health down faster than your ears can bleed from a tragically bad track. Combined with all the other threats on harder pathways, they can feel bordering unfair. Or maybe I’m just bad? Could be that too, to be fair.

Gripes aside, Robobeat is a full-throttled rollercoaster of a playing experience. I’ve played a number of rhythm shooters in my time, and this one can nail a beat on a par with the best of them. Speaking of, the tracks are phenomenal. Mixing between jazz-inspired hits and wildly intense dopamine-inducing techno electronic tracks is awesome.

Songs are acquired by finding cassettes as you progress, giving you new grooves to get your killer instinct on to. The beats-per-minute of each track will increase or decrease the speed at which both you and the enemy can fire too, adding further depth to the combat cocktail. If nothing else, I’ll happily be jumping back into Robobeat just for the banging tune selection. Headbanging has never been so stylish.

Robobeat review

Right On Time

In a genre that only seems to be blooming with each passing day, Robobeat is another brilliant entry into the rhythm shooter space. While graphically it’s no slouch given its art direction, it doesn’t have the production value of something like Metal: Hellsinger. There’s not much of a story to follow aside from the initial setup. But then, you’re a bounty hunter, you have a mark, what more do you need?

Well, you need music. Thumping, booming, sometimes jazzy and always electrifying music. Robobeat provides a sensational mixtape that could bring the cassette back harder than vinyl. The gunplay is more hyper-charged than a club in Aiya Napa and the variety of weapons creates a wonderful sandbox to blast the ever loving beat out of everything before you.

Could it do with a bit more variety? Sure. Would I have liked a bit more story exposition? It’s not very often I say this, but probably not. Robobeat is content to be a caffeine-hit right to the hypothalamus. As you surge through room after room, laying the smack down on your colourful enemies and jamming out as you do, I doubt you’ll care much for the context.

I certainly didn’t. As I died and went through the come down of a manically intense run, I slapped on a new tune, pulled up my dual revolvers and threw myself back into the rave.

Despite not having the production values of some of its contemporaries, Robobeat would have Basshunter himself chasing this drop. Weighty, satisfying combat mix into a hyper-charged melody of excitement, head bops and intense rogue-like runs. A lack of real story and limited variety mean the mixtape slightly tails off, but the core of this setlist can keep you raving long into the night.

Robobeat is available May 14th via Steam (review platform).

Developer: Simon Fredholm
Publisher: Kwalee

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.

If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.

Make sure to follow Finger Guns on our social channels –TwitterFacebookTwitchSpotify or Apple Podcasts – to keep up to date on our news, reviews and features.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.