In my recent search for the most psychedelic space shooter… (I didn’t realize I was searching but clearly I am) Beat Hazard is the latest find. I’ve often seen update notifications go by in my Steam RSS feed and this told me the developer was active, but I’d never played the game. This week during the annual Steam Holiday Sale, impulse buying got the better of me and I grabbed a copy of Beat Hazard.
Beat Hazard is a difficult game to summarize, but here’s my best attempt: It’s a dual-stick, music influenced, shooter with a simple gameplay mechanic. Your selected music track (some are provided with the game or you can choose one of your own) controls the speed, number, and timing of the enemies. The intensity of the music also dictates how powerful your weapon is. The system where your selected music track dictates the gameplay is similar to Audiosurf.
Speaking of the power of your weapon, like most shooter games or SHMUPS you can collect power-ups for your ship. The two main power-ups are Volume and Power. The Volume power-up increases the level of the music you, the player hears as well as the intensity of your weapon. The Power power-up controls the number of simultaneous streams of weaponry emerging from the front of your ship. other power-ups include score multipliers, Super Bombs and currency. The currency can be used to purchase power-ups and or other unlock-able perks. When purchased, these power ups are yours when you start a new session. The goal is to max out your volume and power meters, turning you into a “Beat Hazard”, which enhances your weapon and generally makes things more fun, louder and much more colorful.
The enemies you’ll find in Beat Hazard are similar to the foes in other top-down perspective shooters. There are small ships that enter the screen only to serve as a distraction and to overwhelm the player. There are also larger ships that fire upon you more frequently and can release unexpected special weaponry. Often times, at what seems like a dynamically detected portion of the music track, a series of “Boss” ships will appear and start unleashing a barrage of difficult to avoid firepower on you.
See the gallery below for some of my own screen-shots of the game and the embedded official video below the gallery for an idea of how it all comes together.