Over the last few years there have been quite a few popular rogue-like (sometimes called rogue-lite) twin-stick shooters. Of course, those in the master class category are Nuclear Throne and Enter the Gungeon. However, Blazing Beaks is definitely a worthy contender for your time in this newly saturated genre.
Most of these games play remarkably similar. Using the left stick, the player controls the character’s movements, while the right stick is used to aim your weapon. The twin-stick setup can take a while to adjust to, depending on your experience. However, anyone with experience with these sorts of games will instantly click with the setup. For those without, it can take a while to adjust, as there’s a fairly steep learning curve inherent with the genre. I would argue, though, that it’s a learning curve worth putting your time into. While it can be cognitively dissident to walk in one direction and aim in another with two different sticks, when it clicks, it stays clicked. Also, the controls can be tweaked and buttons can be remapped in the menu. This is a major benefit to veterans and newbies alike, and I struggle to understand why all games don’t allow this.
Blazing Beaks offers you a variety of feathered friends to choose from, each with their own pros and cons. Some are slower with better weapons, and others have poor stats all around but have enemies drop more excellent bonuses and a more rapid pace. Each is colorful and fun, and the sprites convey a great sense of character.
Each level of the game is procedurally generated. No two runs will be exactly the same. Enemies, obstacles, and pickups will be randomized each time. In typical rogue-like style, you have to destroy all of the enemies on a floor before the door opens to the next one. Enemies drop coins which can be used to purchase better weapons from the shop, which appears every five to seven floors. Sometimes, you can find keys that open little bonus levels that don’t progress you further into the game, but provide pick ups and even more loot.
One of my favorite aspects of Blazing Beaks is the loot system, referred to as artifacts. Artifacts are found fairly frequently, but they are negative in their functionality, as they provide a variety of negative side effects on you. For example, some may reduce your total amount of health points, while others may cause you to take double damage, reduce your speed or rate of fire, etc. However, the more artifacts you have when you reach the shop, the better off you will be. By talking to one of the NPCs, they will convert your negative artifacts into positive ones. It’s a really fun twist on the system, and presents a nice risk/reward system. Do you take the chance to be weaker now for the opportunity to be stronger later?
The game is fairly challenging, but not as much as other titles in the genre. Bosses are very different, though. Each area has a boss and most have to be approached in creative ways to deal damage to them. You usually cannot simply blast them into dust.
Blazing Beaks also has a multiplayer mode. The main campaign can be played in co-op, and there is also a multiplayer versus mode with several battle options. Both of these additional aspects look quite fun, but unfortunately I was not able to try them out.
Blazing Beaks was a nice little surprise and I thoroughly recommend it for fans of the genre. It loses a few points in my eyes for a rather bland soundtrack and a complete lack of narrative. Overall, though, it’s a fun little game and worthy to sit among the others.