Remember when I went balls-out crazy over the summer during the Steam Summer Sale and spent an astounding $0.74 on a bundle of four games? And then I only played one of them, the cute yet challenging Out There (Somewhere)? Yeah, I remember that too. Congratulations, we both have good memories. Except that I also promised to try out the other three–Polarity, Beep, and Camera Obscura–sooner than later, which were words written five months ago. I think I need to look up the dictionary definition of “soon” before I ever use the word again.
Beep tells the story of a lone spaceship that has been gliding through the emptiness of interstellar space for, like, ever and ever. An automated factory within this ship prepares a fleet of robotic explorers in search of gold nuggets–one of my sister’s least favorite words–that will help advance their race. Don’t ask me how, I’m not a robotic explorer. Gold also unlocks newer planets to explore. When arriving at a planet, a robot is deployed, and the player gains control, using platforming, physics, and laser beams to collect the necessary nuggets and reach the end safely.
Your little exploring robot in Beep–which I’m not totally comfortable writing as BEEP though that’s how it appears over at Steam–is mega cute. I mean, look at it. Anyways, it moves on wheels, which does affect how you climb up over some ledges or whether or not sliding is an issue on slanted slopes. The first few levels, namely on the Perilous Plains, slowly up the difficulty, but mostly introduce elements like moving platforms to climb on and dealing with antagonistic robots at a good pace. However, I found the little robot descending underground into dark sections with limited light and tricky jumps a bit too much early on. You do hit some checkpoints in the levels, which means restarting isn’t too punishing, and you can just keep trying over and over.
The graphics and bouncy tunes keep everything feeling easy and safe, even if it can get a little challenging in some parts. At first, I mistook Beep to be a prototype or student project–shame on me–but the graphics eventually fade to the background as you find yourself concerned with tossing defunct robot bodies out of your way or lowering a platform just so in hopes of being in line of sight of a nugget and using your anti-gravity gun to bring it closer. Using that gun to hurl rocks and dead enemy bot bodies with force is really fun, though it can bite you in the butt if you aren’t careful where you are aiming. For example, I wanted to hurl a dead opponent up and over my little robot explorer’s head into the gap behind it–you know, like a cool action hero–but instead tossed it directly into it, knocking both off the edge. Yes, I laughed, but I also quickly learned my lesson.
Beep‘s got some pedigree behind it too. I don’t know specifically who, but it comes from the minds of former LucasArts and BioWare employees and is clearly inspired by games like Cave Story, Yoshi’s Island, Trine, and Half-Life 2, all of which I’ve actually played in my lifetime. I’m enjoying it so far and expect to chip away at it slowly. I also can totally see myself just sitting on the level select menu, which is simply a solar system you can fly around and bump into drifting meteorites and such, all while a thumping, Blade Runner-like soundtrack plays. The shocking truth is that I really need to load up other things on my laptop other than Time Clickers.