Do you love music and hate your optical nerves? Beat Hazard is a fun debut from Cold Beam Games that follows along the lines of dual-stick shooters such as Geometry Wars. The game begin with the classic seizure warning of most games, however no game I have ever played have even come close to truly needing a warning as much as this has.
The basic premise is that colors, enemies and even the power of your weaponry are all determined by the intensity of the music. Naturally, being skeptical of just how well this would work after reading about it, this meant the first song I had to try was Through The Fire and Flames by Dragonforce which, as anyone who has heard the song before knows, is pretty much a relentless assault of guitar riffs to a never-ending drum beat. I figured that if there was any song in my arsenal that would prove to be more intense than the game could accurately depict, it would be that and boy was I wrong.
As the song starts off fast but not very intense, I had a good 30 seconds or so to get a feel of the controls which was more than enough time as the game supports the Xbox 360 controller on PC flawlessly with no tweaking. Shooting at asteroids I began to smirk thinking, ‘Wow, this is going to be uneventful’ when I am blown away by flashes of yellow and purple streaks that replace my standard little cannon as the song really starts to pick up. Ships start flying in from every corner of the screen, easily knocked down like flies and dropping behind power-ups that boost my power, my score multiplier and music volume level. There is barely enough time to take in what is going on before “WARNING!” flashes up at the bottom of the screen accompanied by a scoreboard-buzzer and a giant battle ship flies into view. The ship puts up one hell of a fight with a variety of weapons but ultimately reaches its demise in a colorful strobe that lights up my room like a bomb made out of glow-sticks erupted and fries my brain trying to process what power-ups and new enemies are on the screen while essentially staring into the sun.
There are a few minor faults I can find with Beat Hazard, the first of which is a real lack of option settings. Every time I start a game, it has become habit to go straight into the option menu, especially on computer with video quality options, and review my settings so I can rest assured that everything will run smoothly to my liking. Now, I know this game isn’t Crysis and will not need tinkering with very much, however there were a few instances where so much color and light on the screen started to present some problems that very easily could have been fixed with a Vsync option. The second, and really only other, fault I can find with Beat Hazard is that as much as I love an intense gaming experience made all the better with my favorite music, sometimes the game can be way TOO intense, to the point of physically hurting the eyes after more than a ten minute session. There is no history of epilepsy or seizures in general in my family and the game made me feel nauseous after with blinking remnants of color whenever I closed my eyes that one gets after looking at a light bulb directly for too long. In small doses, the second is really not much of a factor but, as a gamer, when I begin to have fun with a game I would rather not have to stop after so long just because my brain might fry.
Out on Xbox LIVE Arcade and now Steam, Beat Hazard is easily worth the $9.99USD price tag and will provide you with quite some fun, at the cost of your vision!