Friday, 30 Oct 2020

Biped Review: Puzzle Solving Fun For Two… With Robots!

Developer NEXT Studios has released a unique multiplayer experience on Steam with Biped. Players take control of a pair of small robots who must work as a team to complete a series of stages. Despite the simple, often-seen concept of this multiplayer game, Biped is a pleasure to experience and only suffers from a relatively short length, which simply means we could not put it down and were sad to see it end.

Intuitive Problem Solving For Two

To be clear, players don’t need a buddy with them to play the campaign. Choosing to go at it solo is perfectly viable and makes the second robot controlled by AI. The AI works adequately, if sometimes cumbersome, but it gets the job done.

The control scheme is about as simple as could be and allows for virtually anyone to pick up quickly. Most of the game is simply exploring an area to see what the mechanics are, and then positioning both robots correctly to begin solving a puzzle. Sometimes the answer is not clear, and the best move is to play detective until something becomes apparent. Simple, but great fun with a friend.

The Occasional Challenge

As stated, most of the game feels straightforward with clear objectives to complete. However, there are also some moments that require quite a bit of thought along with trial and error to get through. Among the most difficult is moving like a pair of synchronized swimmers, timing certain moves exactly with the second player to interact with a moving platform or avoid some kind of obstacle.

Thankfully, there are tons of check points to keep progress moving forward, even if some puzzles result in spectacular failure at first.

Each puzzle also has a replayability factor built in thanks to a sort of ranking system that is based on collecting stars, how long it takes to complete a puzzle, and in some instances, secrets to uncover. Doing everything optimally is fun in some cases, but in a different way. Most of the game at first feels like a grand adventure in discovery. Meanwhile, the ranking system is more like trying to optimize a set of moves. It’s certainly not going to be for everyone, but it’s still a nice feature to have in an otherwise short game.

Nostalgic Feels Of Orange And Blue Portals

At its core, Biped brings back feelings of the multiplayer component of Portal 2. Obviously, the portal mechanic is absent here, as is (most) high-flying action caused by manipulating the laws of physics, but the same feeling is present. Each player can function on their own, but it is the team gameplay that shines in and allows for progression through problem solving.

The robots also have great personality as well, like Portal 2, which makes the characters endearing and personable despite being little more than a pair of mechanical legs onto a torso.

No Remote Play Together

It must also be said that the game is meant to be experienced as a local co-op, and that is why there is no Remote Play Together listed on the Steam store page nor is it planned, according to the developer discussion pages in the forums.

This might seem like an odd decision since so many games today can be played online, but we do not count that as a hit against the game, because it is clearly meant to be played with a friend to discover how best to tackle each level. Could the same feelings be accomplished with headsets to chat while playing? Probably, but the design choice of local co-op only does not seem like it’s going change anytime soon.

It’s Just Too Short

The only real problem we had when playing was that the game ended far too quickly. Luckily, the developer has important plans in place when it comes to letting users create their own levels. When I played the game with a friend, it took us three hours, and it probably took so long because we spent far too long trying to see how ridiculous certain levels could be and if we could break any of the game’s mechanics. Had we been motivated to only progress quickly, it likely would have taken only about two hours.

Right now, there is no level editor available. And to be perfectly honest, it would be fantastic in Biped and the community would probably create some fantastic levels, providing far more replay value. Thankfully, the developer has stated in the discussions page on Steam that they understand that the feature is among the most requested.

For now, they state that they are focusing on a smooth launch transition, but that allowing players to have the means to create their own tools will be something they look at in the near future. The short campaign really isn’t a big deal in the long run if the developer comes through on this key feature.

A Great Game, But Maybe Wait For A Level Editor

Overall, Biped is a great game that is great fun for two players. However, potential buyers needs to be alright with only playing locally, a short amount of content, and the potential for a level editor to be far off from release. For these reasons it might be best to wait until more concrete news becomes available, but if those are not huge problems, Biped is a real treat.

A PC copy of Biped was provided to TheGamer for this review. Biped is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.

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