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Beat Slayer review – Hades meets Hi-Fi Rush

Beat Slayer review 1
Image: ByteRockers' Games

So, you’re done with Hades and you want another roguelike to play with hack-and-slash gameplay and an isometric viewpoint until its sequel arrives. You could do lot worse than invest in Beat Slayer by ByteRockers’ Games, which also includes a music rhythm element.

Set in a dystopian 90s-inspired Berlin, Beat Slayer puts you in control of Mia, a music lover on a mission. You see, her brother has stupidly left the safety of the group’s hideout, and is now presumed to be being held captive by Deitrich, a former musician who now controls the city with an army of robots. And so, there’s only one thing for you to do: you’re going to go out and get your brother back, smashing as many robots on the way as possible.

The core gameplay of Beat Slayer is much like any other roguelike. Each run consists on numerous stages and, given a choice of which route to take, rewards are available at the end of each. You might choose a route that rewards you with lots of XP, for example. Or, if you’re low on health, you might take a diversion that will allow you to heal yourself up in preparation for encountering an upcoming boss. To complete a stage, you’re required to defeat all the robots it throws at you, though you’ll often also need to avoid environmental hazards.

Beat Slayer review 2
Image: ByteRockers’ Games

What makes Beat Slayer stand out from the crowd is that you’re required to play along to the beat of the game’s soundtrack to be extra effective. Initially you can only swing your weapon, by default an axe, and dash to avoid enemy attacks. Soon after starting, however, you also unlock a kick attack that can be used to create space and interrupt enemies, and also a powerful ultimate attack. Perform any of these to the beat your combo will rise. Your attacks will be more effective, too. And if you manage to reach a particular combo level you’ll find yourself in a power-up state that remains until you mess up.

Related: The best games to play like Hades

Success in Beat Slayer requires you to have rhythm, then, but with its banging soundtrack it makes it somewhat easy to play along to the beat. There are also some helpful accessibility options available if you’re really not musically inclined. But of course, there are the usual roguelike trappings here as well that will determine you success on any given run.

At the end of a stage you’ll often be given a choice of perks, which will allow you to develop Mia in the way you see fit. You might prioritise a high critical hit chance, for example, as well as imbuing your attacks with fire. There are many options available, which means that no two runs have to be the same. And when you do ultimately fail and end up back at your hideout, you can use your hard-earned XP to purchase a wide range of permanent upgrades, or alter the chances of certain perk types appearing. Before heading out on your next run, a choice of potions is also available which will benefit your cause.

Beat Slayer review 3
Image: ByteRockers’ Games

Perform well enough in Beat Slayer and you’ll unlock additional weapons for Mia to use, each having an impact on the core combat experience. You’ll find that while you can swing your axe along to the beat, the large hammer requires two beats to successfully perform an attack. This really makes you think about your actions, and demands that you change your approach. Ultimately, it’s worth trying all three weapons out once you’ve unlocked them, and see which one works best for you.

Like any roguelike, repetition can set in over time, especially with the stages in Beat Slayer not being all that random. But perhaps the worst thing about the game are its characters and the conversations between them. Mia seems way too upbeat considering her brother has gone missing and is potentially in danger. And character interactions often result in exchanges that just make you want to cringe. Thankfully you’re not required to talk all that frequently.

For roguelike fans with rhythm, Beat Slayer will no doubt prove to be a bit of a treat. It has a beautiful art style, a soundtrack that will get your foot tapping, and gameplay that draws you in and holds your attention like a vice. It perhaps doesn’t do anything new or original outside of incorporating a rhythm element, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Just put some headphones on, start a new run and enjoy busting up some robots to the beat.

This review of Beat Slayer was facilitated by a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PC.

Beat Slayer review - GameSpew's Score

Beat Slayer
8 10 0 1
Beat Slayer takes the gameplay of titles like Hades and adds a music rhythm twist, making it a treat for those with the skills to play along to the beat.
Beat Slayer takes the gameplay of titles like Hades and adds a music rhythm twist, making it a treat for those with the skills to play along to the beat.
8/10
Total Score

We liked...

  • The music rhythm element works well
  • Its art style is attractive
  • The soundtrack will have you tapping your foot

We didn't like...

  • It can feel repetitive at times
  • Character conversations can be cringey
Editor in Chief // An avid gamer since discovering the wonders of the Acorn Electron in the '80s, Rich has nearly played more games than he's had hot dinners. Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, Rich is happy to play games of all genres, but he particularly enjoys racing games and anything that's full of non-stop action, especially if it includes a good dose of humour, horror or crudeness!