Just Shapes & Beats (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Colin Beauchamp 29.06.2018

Review for Just Shapes & Beats on Nintendo Switch

Just Shapes & Beats is an interesting title because it's a bullet-hell shoot 'em up without any actual shooting; instead, players will be focusing on dodging the many types of projectiles throughout each level. The real twist, though, is the fact that this is entirely rhythm-based, and all obstacles are synchronised with the music itself. Not only that, but the soundtrack consists of licensed tracks from chiptune artists. If executed correctly, this could lead to a great gameplay experience with an incredible soundtrack, but does the game reach those heights?

As chaotic as the trailers may make it appear to be, Just Shapes & Beats is actually quite simple to get a grasp on. You play as a small shape trying to dodge various obstacles, and have the ability to dash for a quick burst of invincibility. These are the only actions for the entire game, and something as simplistic as this may seem limiting, but the game goes out of its way to prove that sentiment wrong.

Each level in Just Shapes & Beats tends to rely on a central obstacle for each level, while mixing it in with other various obstacles at the same time. There's a gigantic variety of objects to avoid, such as lasers, sawblades, spikes, shockwaves, and many more. The large number of different scenarios players have to overcome makes every level feel unique, and they will be looking forward to seeing what crazy mess will be stumbled upon next.

Screenshot for Just Shapes & Beats on Nintendo Switch

It's not just the level design alone that makes these levels memorable, though, it's also the music. The soundtrack is amazing, with the music selection being top notch in every respect. Nearly every song is memorable, or at the very least extremely catchy. This is the type of game that once finished gamers will go and listen to the music from it online because it's just that impressive.

The interesting level concepts and the wonderful music intertwine together, meaning that the obstacles in each level synchronise with the music. This aspect is done incredibly well, and while it may not be essential enough to require you to play with the music on to beat the game, it's a spectacle to watch and listen to. Some stages are almost mesmerising with how everything lines up, and it makes it clear that the levels were hand-crafted with tons of thought put into them.

Screenshot for Just Shapes & Beats on Nintendo Switch

The fact that synchronisation between the level and the music is such a big aspect does come with a noticeable problem, however, and it's due to how lag works. Whenever there's even the smallest instance of lag, things freeze and then unfreeze when the next beat of the song plays. This is done to keep everything synced correctly, but it means that instead of some slight slowdown, players have to deal with the action completely stopping for a moment, which can - and will - lead to instances where you get hit by a projectile while the game is frozen. This is especially frustrating when attempting to do a no damage run of a stage to get an S rank, and while it's not something that happens constantly, it's still irritating enough to be worth bringing up.

The whole experience is also notably short, with the story mode lasting around three hours. However, the quality of each of the levels definitely makes up for this, and the story mode as a whole is paced just fine, and is a joy to play from start to finish. There are also several stages that are unlockable by completing certain tasks, such as dashing a specific number of times, or reviving enough players in online mode.

Screenshot for Just Shapes & Beats on Nintendo Switch

Speaking of which, this does include an online mode, where you complete two normal stages and then survive a boss fight. This is surprisingly addictive, and includes some of the most stunning levels overall, although it's best to discover that yourself instead of just reading about it. It is worth pointing out, however, that you will have to do a lot of grinding in this mode to unlock certain songs; there is a chance of running into them online no matter what, but to actually be able to select that song at any time, you have to meet some hefty requirements. This is fun enough to not make it too much of a detractor, but it's still something to be aware of.

Screenshot for Just Shapes & Beats on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Just Shapes & Beats is an inventive, creative, and memorable experience. It takes a simple concept and does so much with it, causing each level to feel wholly special, even if the lag issue can sometimes dampen the moment. The story mode is a joy to play, and the online mode offers hours of entertainment, as well. That said, the relatively small amount of content and grinding required to unlock extra songs may turn some people off, but if you can get past that, you will find a great time waiting.

Developer

Berzerk Studio

Publisher

Berzerk Studio

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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