There’s been a surge of games this generation that purposefully make your job more difficult for the sake of offering unique gameplay mechanics. Games like Octodad and Surgeon Simulator come to mind, but Biped takes this to another level by sending you through relatively complex platforming and puzzles that you must navigate while controlling your legs independently of one another.
It’s as crazy as it sounds, but does this co-op and solo adventure give you a reason to stretch those digital legs, or do these robots have a few too many loose screws? Let’s find out.
Creative Levels Combine With Difficulty Spikes and Sudden Stops
When I first saw Biped, I thought it looked like a great co-op title that could be fun for casual play and for the little gamers you may have running around. While the game’s cute art style and colorful palette all lend themselves well to all ages, the difficulty on display here quickly showed me that this cute and cuddly platformer has some teeth.
Part of it is intentional, and it’s a result of a simple, yet deviously complex premise. You see, each analog stick controls one of your legs, so even the act of walking takes some getting used to. Thankfully, you can slide across smooth surfaces by pointing both sticks in any direction, but it’s not super responsive.
There aren’t any other buttons to worry about, so anyone can pick up a controller and play with you, but once you’re finished with the tutorial chapter, things kick into high gear. There’s a wild inconsistency to the difficulty here. It’s not really a curve so much as it’s a rapid heartbeat (full of spikes and dips).
One second, you may be sliding across your own path that matches your color, only for the next segment to force you both to alternate your steps so you don’t step on the other’s color and make the platform disappear. Oh, and you’ll do this while moving, and just for fun you’ll need to somehow vault over a vine that will push you off if you’re not fast enough.
In that example, each player's step changes the color. If the next step comes from the incorrect colored player, it all disappears, so you can imagine trying to negotiate that with a second player while also positioning your legs on a moving platform in a way that allows you to climb over the aforementioned vine.
And, of course, before this we were just stepping on the correctly colored shapes and pulling levers to open a door. There’s no denying that it’s creative, but I would have liked a little more consistency in the difficulty.
The same goes for the solo levels, which are less entertaining when you’re doing everything yourself. Despite the small amount of levels overall, the fact that we get completely redesigned stages for single player and co-op is impressive.
Without a second colored robot, the solo levels incorporate platforms that simply disappear shortly after you touch them. This is fine because you can skate across them (being that they count as smooth surfaces).
My issue here twofold, however. One problem is that these stretches require precise turning or timing because of moving obstacles that can block your path. Sitting still for more than a moment means you’ll fall, so you need to plan ahead. The way you turn and meander while sliding makes it difficult to hit these curves, but the true issue here is that I found my character getting stuck between floating tiles, which brought me to a stop without warning.
It’s almost like your foot gets caught in the space between floating platforms. It’s quite odd, and it never happens consistently, but it did consistently get me killed more times than I can count. Combined with the floaty movement during sliding, this led to a lot of frustration where I feel like a fix to the hit detection could make things smoother (quite literally).
I have no qualms with a difficult game, but I expected difficulty to be balanced and consistent. Biped sort of throws you into the gauntlet, and it’s small issues make things more frustrating than they need to be. It welcomes players of all ages and skill levels, but it soon reveals that the only thing simple about it are the controls.
Polished and Vibrant Visuals
Biped’s art style is most easily compared to the Astro Bot games that we’ve seen in Sony’s Playroom and Astro Bot VR titles. It’s a good look, with clean and smooth textures. Colors are used to great effect, and the levels themselves offer a wide range of visual themes.
Biped is an interesting beast, mostly because it looks like the perfect game to play with younger gamers in your family, but it’s difficulty means that young ones may become too frustrated to stick with it. Even seasoned players may find that the combination of precise platforming doesn’t mesh well with floaty controls and unique, but ultimately frustrating movement.
It’s a good idea, and the challenge is there for platforming veterans. My hope is that the issue with getting caught on objects is addressed, as it’s an unintended obstacle in an otherwise polished and charming little adventure.
Final Score: 7.0/10
A copy of Biped was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes.
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 4/9/2020