Prepare to save the world and feel pretty dam good about it too. Stroll through our Biped review and take a glance at a new puzzle platformer from Next Studios.
Available now on PC, via the Steam Storefront, Biped is a charming multiplayer puzzler that stepped out onto PC at the end of March. While many multiplayer co-op games focus on fraying friendships and serve up chaos, Biped looks set to make gaming together an altogether more charming affair. The obviously two-player head-scratcher puts gamers in the circuits of two extrasolar robots, Aku and Sila, set on finding and repairing a series of Earthbound beacons. To do this, and stop the world from going dark, you and your friends will need to traverse a range of stages, each with their own theme, mechanics, and goals to succeed in a seemingly simple drop mission.
Biped might take a step away from games like Get Packed and Overcooked by ditching the countdown timer, but it still has its very own appeal. The cartoon characters of Biped introduce us to a mission profile and opening gambit that seems to take inspiration from Wall-E if nothing else. The two main automatons that traverse the world below chirp and whir with an innocence that is endearing from the go. The lack of spoken dialogue means these two bipedal droids and their oversized LCD faces emote through sound and actions which don’t just take liberties with the Pixar classic but also prevent players from becoming distracted by the nuance of human emotion when struggling to simply put one step in front of the other.
Stumbling into action, a range of environments await players who steel themselves and search for deactivated beacons. Forests, savannahs, and icy mountains are just a few of the many stages that are riddled with character, silly inhabitants, and fun little flashes of inspiration that give the world of Biped almost as much quirky character as the little robots that whirl through it. Whether it’s talking to a TV with a sheriff’s badge or launching your teammate off a giant see-saw, the level design and overall experience scream fun from the first trembling steps into the world.
Step To It
In this grand puzzle, stepping into character really does mean what it says. Moving through Biped, players must walk through the world, manipulating their character’s legs entirely independently. The left and right sticks of a controller or left and right mouse buttons map to the analogous mechanical limbs and offer a flexible range of movement for both Aku and Sila. In both instances, the control scheme is simple enough to understand yet still requires a degree of finesse to tease out the correct orientation. The opening tutorial does a good job of introducing these concepts and teaches players how to put one foot in front of the other, or simply spin on one leg. It’s this freedom of movement that, at least initially, is the greatest challenge in Biped.
Solo encounters in this platform puzzler are a charming affair that push robots along ledges and across chasms, with plenty of linear tasks that need to be performed. Moving blocks, weaving alleys, and a range of simple environmental puzzles don’t do much more than ask players to hit the right note and move on. However, these same straightforward tasks open up a whole new game when player 2 joins.
Whether it’s Biped’s online co-op action or getting together with friends using Steam’s Remote Play, Biped is a wholly different experience with a partner in crime. Skating through the tops of a forest of trying to open a series of locks suddenly becomes color-coded. Tasks split into two and environmental puzzles operate in a whole new way. Adding a partner to Biped injects a layer of complexity that might seem off-putting at first but ultimately makes the game a wonder to play. Alongside learning to traverse new terrain with two legs, players must activate objects to let their partner past obstacles, step on colored tiles without plunging their accessory into the abyss, and try to do it all in time. The simplicity of moving platforms becomes a chaotic mix of coordination, screaming, and joyous laughter that seems to make Biped even more endearing than it initially looks while your own robot squeals, displays a sad face, or you forget which leg is left.
In general, the challenge and charm of Biped feels well balanced, with the beacon and at the end of each stage never more than a 10 or 15-minute jaunt away. Each zone that players pop into is distinct, with a series of new environmental mechanics that keep the core gameplay mechanic feeling fresh the whole way through. While there are not an overwhelming number of objectives to complete, much like the two other party games we mentioned above, the addition of that extra online companion ensures that each puzzle definitely has legs to it. If the experience isn’t to your liking then a range of collectable coins, and a ranking system allow players to go for the loot, purchasing customizable pirate hats, glasses, and other goodies to adorn their own mechanical creation.
Biped is a simple idea but executed with as much charm as Next could possibly muster. If you’ve ever wanted to save the world but the T800 was just a bit to shoot first and ask questions later, grab a buddy and try out Biped. The cute characters, lovingly crafted stages, and emotional range the mechanical cast show between your own screams of joy and despair will have you hooked on this title, and you can even play co-op without the couch via Remote Play. Biped is out now for PC and available on the Steam Storefront for $14.99 or local equivalent. Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch Owners can grab this wonderful adventure soon, when we might review it all over again.