PREVIEW: Just Shapes & Beats

 I recently had the chance to go hands-on with multiple games at the just for laughs festival in Montreal. While big games like Call of Duty and FIFA were present, no game caught my attention like "Just Shapes & Beats" did. Rightfully so, because this game looks amazing.

Just Shapes & Beats is a 2-D space avoider, rhythm based game. It moves and plays like Resogun or Geometry Wars, and it heavily relies on music just like Geometry Dash or Sound Shapes. On paper, it sounds like a mix of games. However, it feels original and fresh. 

The game is being developed by Berzerk Studio, a small indie team. I had the pleasure of talking to one of the devs. and I learned a lot about the game and the studio. While they have multiple games on their belt, they were all mobile exclusives. Just Shapes & Beats will be their first console game, and I'm glad it is. I'd hate to play this gem on an iPad.

Back to the game, I played about 7 stages before I was told to leave by the other guys waiting to play the game.  The final game will have more than 50 stages! All 7 stages felt unique and played differently. Each song, each enemy and obstacle kept the game fresh. Each level has the same objective: you're a shape that has to get to the end of each stage without getting destroyed by the enemies and/or losing your lives, all of this while you listen to badass songs. The only tool at your disposal is the use of a dash. I love the fact that the game is simple (in theory): move and dash so you don't die. And while most of the stages include checkpoints, the harder ones don't. Meaning that you have to beat the entire level without dying.

And believe me, this game is hard. Even on the easiest difficulty, I found myself dying constantly. Good thing is, it never felt cheap. Every time I lost I blamed myself for having the reflexes of an 80 year old grandpa. Every time I died, I restarted so I could keep playing. Also, the game features both online and local multiplayer for up to 4 players. Everything about this game pretty much did it for me. My only gripe with it is the fact that you don't get a score after finishing each level. Meaning that the game will lose replayability and there probably won't be leaderboards. Not a big issue tho. To be honest, I don't see how you could insert scores into this game, and there will be user generated content.

I know what you're thinking by now: How do I buy Just Shapes & Beats? Sadly, you can't. At least not for now. The game will come out on X1, PC and PS4, and while the PS4 doesn't have a release window yet (this makes me sad), the X1 and PC versions should become available in the first quarter of 2016. Price-wise, I was told the game will cost less than $20. Also, I asked and YES. A VITA VERSION MIGHT HAPPEN. They have the dev kit. So as long as they can figure a way to keep the level of quality on the handheld, we should get a Vita version in the future.

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