Developed and published by Applava, Blazing Beaks is a cute Rogue-lite style game with a simple twist that plays off your greed against your skills. With small procedurally generated colourful levels the game tries to keep itself fresh. The game soundtrack is quite a catchy track but I get the feeling it just loops which is a bit of a shame. But with loads of items to discover and different birds to play as each with their own perks with more to unlock, there is plenty to whet your appetite.
There isn’t a story to this game other than there is an origin of evil you need to end and you have to trawl through seemingly endless enemies and levels to get to it, which is something I couldn’t manage to do in my time playing it.
There are a variety of game modes on offer. You have the normal play through which can be played on one of three difficulties, although even on the first skull difficulty – which is suppose to be easy – it’s not that easy. Or I might just be a bit naff perhaps. You have the daily run, a randomly seeded playthrough of the main game in which you try to set the best score you can and see how you fare against other players. You can also play a seeded playthrough where you can edit the seed number so the levels generated are always the same. This is useful if you find a friendlier playthrough, or even a trickier playthrough so that you can share the seed number with a friend to see how they do with it. Then there are the challenges for the real pros of the game. I say this as each of the 5 challenges have you playing the main story with a handicap such as touching an enemy is a one-hit kill, or there are no artefact drops.
There is also a multiplayer option with 5 game modes which all seem like pretty fun to play, but unfortunately it is local play only which is a shame as I think this would have seen some attention online.
With the main story playthrough, you pick from one of the starting birds; a duck, platypus, blue bird, chicken, and a parrot. You can unlock others like the penguin and seagull as you meet certain criteria in your playthrough. Each bird has their own starting weapon, HP, and perk which affects your playthrough. The main story can be played with 2 players but once again only locally. You then start in the swamp area which is one of a few areas in addition to the graveyard and desert areas. The enemies are cutely designed based on the theme of the area you are in; in the swamp you’ll find bugs, frogs and what looks like radishes with a gun. To progress on each level, you need to kill all the enemies before the door opens to the next level until you eventually get to the boss of that area.
The mechanics of Blazing Beaks are what’s most interesting here, as you only have one life so you need to play the game cautiously. Some enemies do drop hearts which are the health pickups but your birds only have around 4 hit points at the start of the game. Considering some of the damage dealt by enemy weapons or explosions do more than 1HP of damage, your run can be cut short very quickly.
It is twin-stick action so you can move and shoot in different directions. You also start with an evasive dodge move that has a cooldown time. But the big hook about this game is the artefacts. These artefacts are practically handicaps of a varying degree and they can range from reduced weapon damage and reduced movement speed, to being unable to pick up coins or to shoot for the first seven seconds upon entering a level.
There are about 80 artefacts to find and every one of them will affect you negatively. However, you don’t “need” to pick them up, and the same goes for the coins. The reason why you pick these negative artefacts up is that when you reach a shop area, you can trade all them in for items that have positive effects that stay with you until the end of your playthrough like increased weapon damage, double your current amount of coins or increase your maximum hit points. There are about 75 items as well so your playthrough can change quite considerably each time which I think is a cool idea.
Not only that, the coins you collect can be used to purchase guns at the counter, with over 50 guns to discover. Also when you get to the boss levels, should you take out the boss you will also get a chance to swap out your evasive dodge move to one of 13 other abilities like a bubble shield against projectiles or temporary invincibility. They each have varying cooldown times so like everything you need to decide on what suits your style or at least gives you the better chance at survival.
Blazing Beaks is a fun, but very tough, game. You need fast reflexes and good decision making if you are going to finish a playthrough of the story mode. I found the quandary of taking an artefact with a penalty for a chance of a better boon later fascinating as it’s based on your confidence in your ability to survive until you can reap the benefits. It’s just a shame that you cannot play the main story online with a friend or play multiplayer onlineBecome a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.