If you were to look back to a time before the Nintendo Switch, you’d probably be able to count the number of occasions you could point to a game and say that it was designed with any sense of reality in mind on one hand. Simulation games weren’t something you’d find on a Nintendo console with each handheld device being the place to find the wacky, the unique and the more outrageous titles – Nintendogs provides a good reason why it has always been better that way. The latest game to hit the Nintendo Switch is another that pushes things to the borders of the more outlandish and if you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, Blazing Beaks may just be up your street.
The premise of Blazing Beaks is simple. You are a bird – a bird with access to some of the world’s most deadly weapons, and your goal is to fight your way through to the door at the end of each room in this roguelike adventure.
Naturally this doesn’t sound like the sort of thing you’d find a bird doing, but then as I said before, this adventure is a little out of the ordinary.
There are two game modes to choose from in Blazing Beaks; a single-player, or co-operative, Story mode and a multiplayer Tournament. Story mode was the place I spent most of my time and unless you have a group of friends to join you, it’ll be where you spend most of your time too.
In Story mode players are thrown straight into the thick of it, and after choosing your character from one of eight available choices – each of which bring a unique weapon, set starting health and ability into play – you’ll enter a basic room that allows you to get the controls under your belt, before heading into your first room filled with enemies. To get out you’ll need to kill every enemy in sight, before picking up the items they’ve dropped along the way and progressing to the next room.
The controls are simple; it’s a twin-stick shooter so in typical fashion, the left-stick controls character movement, whilst the right is used to aim. It does take a little while to get used to though, and that is mostly thanks to the on-screen reticle being used to aim rather than simply pointing in the direction you intend to shoot. Should you find it challenging you can always remap the controls to your preferred layout at any time.
Visually and the game is presented in a somewhat pixelated art style with visuals that you would expect to find if you were to mix the devilish Super Meat Boy and Binding of Isaac together. Whilst it’s certainly not going to win any awards for best artistic direction, Blazing Beaks certainly has that relaxing appeal that has become common place in recent years amongst roguelike adventures.
Back to the gameplay though and as you progress through each room, players will pickup and collect various items, from hearts to increase health, to artefacts and coins. Coins are essential when you arrive at the in-game shop as this is where you’re going to buy new weapons and various other items to help you out on your journey, whilst artefacts are the game changer.
Artefacts are important items in Blazing Beaks for two reasons; firstly because they cost a bomb to get rid of when it comes to the in-game vendor and selling them can mean no longer affording that exciting new gun, but most importantly because they force debuffs on the player until they are sold. I’m not talking about a little hindrance either, as players can be left to contend with weapons doing a lot less damage, or being less accurate, to enemies not dropping health and so on. This leads to a huge risk/reward situation should you decide to run with an artefact for a little longer just to ensure you get that item you’ve been saving for.
Playing co-op of course can see this made a little easier with two players able to gun down the enemies, but with unique co-op artefacts then appearing there is nothing to say it’s going to be an easy ride.
Should you manage to complete each room, you’ll eventually find yourself getting through to the end of your current world, with each world-end bringing about a boss fight. Each has a unique boss fight and each boss has a distinct way to be killed that players must learn through gameplay. Getting to them won’t be easy though, thanks to the power of procedural generation ensuring no two runs are ever the same.
Should you tire of Story mode however, there is the Tournament option to fall back on. Unfortunately if you were hoping for an online opponent you’ll be sad to hear this isn’t a possibility with Tournament mode restricted to local multiplayer only. If that’s not an issue and you can muster some friends to jump in, then this competitive arena based madness is where you’ll find a battle-to-the-death type scenario breaking out, with five unique tournament types to get involved in. The standout options include one which sees players fighting it out to gain control of a golden skull, which when obtained inflicts damage upon other players, whilst Drop Hearts mode sees players physically drop a heart when damaged which can then be acquired by other players who run over it. Hunting mode is possibly the best mode for a laugh thanks to players being armed with little other than a spear to hunt each other down, which when thrown will require collecting before you can throw it again, leading the most accurate/luckiest player to victory with a well placed throw.
Overall though and should you enjoy roguelike adventures, Blazing Beaks certainly has everything you’ll find in a typical adventure, whilst the various artefacts do enough to ensure that it isn’t simply a copy and paste of other similar titles in the genre. It’s not the easiest adventure and will certainly take some getting used to for non-regulars of the genre, but if you’re after a capable and enjoyable roguelike, then Blazing Beaks on Nintendo Switch has more than enough to keep you occupied.
Release date: May 2019
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)
Massive thanks to: QubicGames