Preview | BPM: Bullets Per Minute
A few months ago, the world was introduced to Awe Interactive’s BPM: Bullets Per Minute, a first-person shooter that moves to a rhythm. On top of this, it’s also a rogue-like title, with randomly generated dungeons and corridors to explore. It’s a pretty unique concept that really caught our eye, so of course we wanted to get our hands on it. Thankfully, GotGame was able to preview a build of the game before it’s September 15th launch on PC. Note: All images in this article represent content found in the two levels of the preview build. Other areas beyond the preview content do show off different environments.
BPM: Bullets Per Minute puts you in the role of a various Valkyries and angels, each with unique stats and starting weapons. The preview build starts out with Göll, the Valkyrie warrior with basic stats and a pistol weapon. After finishing the demo, Freyr became accessible, starting with a revolver and armor. There are other characters, but we didn’t get a chance to try them out. Either way, during our preview we spent most of the time as Göll, and let us tell you; it was a blast.
To start out, this game is not an easy one to pick up and play. Being a rhythm shooter, you have to time all your actions to the beat of the music. This means every shot, every jump, every dodge, even every time you reload all have to follow a rhythm to work. An on-screen tempo counter helps to keep you on the rhythm, though it will still take a bit to get used to. Of course, those that are musically inclined will likely have an advantage when it comes to following a tempo. The cool thing is that even half beats can have actions, so you can do things faster if you can maintain your tempo.
Following the rhythm without messing up will maintain a combo meter. For every action you do on the beat, this counter builds up and gives you bonuses, including better drops for clearing rooms and ultimately more points. Missing a beat will reset the meter, but practice makes perfect. Perhaps the hardest things to get used to is reloading with the rhythm. This gave me the most trouble, but when I found the Infinite Ammo upgrade, it made things significantly easier. Regardless of this, the game is still pretty challenging, and you may end up dying multiple times before getting the hang of things.
It’s worth knowing that being a rogue-like game, everything is randomly generated and death resets just about everything. All of your weapons, upgrades and abilities will reset after death. The only thing you can carry between runs is shop upgrades and gold, and that’s assuming you manage to drop the gold off at a bank. You can use gold to purchase items from a shop ran by a giant chicken named Huginns. The more purchases you make, the more you raise your loyalty, which gains access to better items. These items can be simple like healing potions, chest keys and stat upgrades. After upgrading the shop, you can even start coming across full ability upgrades and armor.
Other uses for gold include paying tribute to various altars found in the game. Dropping off a gold coin can grant bonuses like speed up, increases to range, or even improvements to your abilities. You can also get damage boosts, and other bonuses. There’s even a well that can produce various random items (or enemies) if you give it more coins. One thing I found interesting is that you’ll occasionally come across risk/reward scenarios. This is visible in the form of a dagger hovering above something like a bag of coins or a key. Accepting the item will grant you damage, so you’ll have to be pretty confident that you’ll live long enough to enjoy the spoils.
Aside from Huginns’ shop, there’s also a blacksmith that looks like a giant Panzerhund from the Wolfenstein franchise. Despite the name, the blacksmith sells new guns, though you can only have one gun on hand. Like the rest of the map, shops are all randomly generated and it’s entirely possible that you won’t see them at all. This also includes the Library, which requires a key to unlock to gain access to a new ability. Some of the abilities I came across were a teleport ability, a room wiping attack, and even the ability to conjure explosive barrels. There are likely many more abilities in BPM, and I look forward to discovering more.
The BPM: Bullets Per Minute preview build mostly gave access to Asgard. Some runs would become Dark Asgard, which gives significantly less lighting in the corridors. As you explore, you’ll come across a large variety of enemies, each with different attack patterns to avoid. Bats will fly and shoot projectiles at you while giant spiders will charge at you. Some enemies will explode, only to unleash more foes upon defeat. There’s even challenge rooms where you can test your mettle and take on a large group of enemies. These enemies tend to be more difficult, so be wary of these rooms.
As mentioned earlier, I was having a lot of difficulty until I started finding upgrades like Infinite Ammo. Other upgrades include the health absorbing Vamp Damage, Auto-Aim, and more. As helpful as these upgrades were, my favorites were Strike on Beat and Explosive Damage. When I had these two on top of Infinite Ammo, I was basically an overpowered God. We’re told that the weapon balance may be subject to change, but overpowered abilities are still intentional. With that in mind, sometimes these abilities can take the skill right out of the game.
Basically, I would walk into a room, and every step I took would kill an enemy. They would also explode and cause enemies nearby to explode alongside them. When it came to mini-bosses and actual bosses, even they were powerless to this combo. Coming across Draugr or Ymir with these abilities took them down within seconds. Of course, fighting these bosses usually poses more of a challenge, and ideally, you’ll want to try fighting them on normal terms, because they’re pretty fun. They’ll sometimes have random perks like being giant or on fire, but their attack patterns lend themselves to the rhythm aspect of the game.
Graphically, BPM: Bullets Per Minute has an over-exposed style that makes highlights practically glow in a certain Grindhouse style. It gives off a unique look that makes it stand out, though it can be difficult to adjust to at first. Despite this, it makes explosions and other particle effects really pop, and it makes the destruction all the more enjoyable. Of course, as a rhythm game, the music is also pretty important. Some rocking guitar riffs and solid drum beats make for an enjoyable soundtrack to sync up to. The calmer areas like shops have more relaxing music as well, but still seamlessly stays on tempo.
Looking at the progress roadmap, this preview build only shows a small glimpse into what BPM: Bullets Per Minute has to offer. I played for several hours, perfecting my strategies, banking coins, and trying different abilities. I’ve even unlocked the pixelated retro mode, though it makes it even more difficult. While it took some time to get good at it, I enjoyed my demo, and now I have even more to look forward to in September. If you enjoy rogue-like games and want a unique experience, I suggest you keep BPM on your radar.