Blazing Beaks is a pretty successful mixture of a variety of games. It clearly takes influence from The Binding of Isaac, Nuclear Throne, and Enter the Gungeon to create something that is entirely new but familiar at the same time. The result is satisfying gameplay that will keep you coming back for more, despite the game being relatively short.
Name: Blazing Beaks
Genre: Bullet Hell, Action, Roguelite
Availability: Nintendo Switch, PC
Blazing Beaks features a story mode and a tournament mode. Tournament mode is further divided up into five different objectives, but the main meat to the game is found in story mode. The game features item pick-ups much like The Binding of Isaac, Enter the Gungeon, and Nuclear Throne. The way these pick-ups work is slightly different, however.
Players can find unique items and artefacts while playing through levels. Enemies and bosses can drop cursed artefacts, which confer a negative affect to the player. Players can hold multiple cursed artefacts, so each time you pick up one you’re gambling with negative stats on your character. Some cursed artefact effects include:
- Reduced weapon range
- Reduced fire rate
- Lose a coin each time the player takes damage
- Lose a heart each new level (unless at 1 already)
- Can’t pick up anymore artefacts or coins
Taking the risk and picking up these cursed artefacts inherently changes the way your character plays.
Pick-Ups & Put-Downs
These cursed artefacts can be traded at the mystic crow if you manage to find a shop door on a level. I thought these shop doors would be interspersed at set levels, like the fifth and tenth floors. However, it appears that they are entirely random occurrences. The unpredictability of the shop door makes it hard to want to risk pick-ups with cursed artefacts, some of which can be really nasty.
Bosses are available on each different level and require a unique tactic to defeat. They’re not especially hard once you figure out this mechanic, as there is no variation in their cycles. Currently each of the five main areas has one boss type, meaning you’ve seen them all after one win. The lack of variety for boss fights really hampers replayability of the story, in my opinion.
A game based on replayability not having at least two bosses per region feels like an oversight here.
The entire story mode can be played with 2-4 players. The tournament mode in Blazing Beaks is intended for co-op only, so you’ll need a couple of friends to enjoy it. There are at least five different modes available in tournament mode for you to explore.
Some examples of tournament modes include:
- Skull Keeper mode – Try to keep the skull in your possession as long as possible
- Deathmatch mode – Shoot accurately and try to be the first to pick up new weapons
Tournament mode can be customized by choosing how many players will play and how much HP each player starts with. Additional areas can be unlocked for tournament mode once you encounter them in Story mode.
The control scheme for Blazing Beaks is pretty standard, considering it borrows heavily from Enter the Gungeon. Joy-Cons and Pro Controller are supported, so you can use any type of controller to play the game.
The art style of the game is a mix between cute and grotesque for some of the monsters and enemies. All five playable bird characters are adorable, with the parrot and platypus as personal favorites. You can unlock three more hidden characters by completing some hidden conditions.
While all five areas in the game feature a unique look, the game feels lacking in areas that are different enough. There is also plenty of enemy variety visually, but most enemies share the same few attack patterns with small differentiation. Some enemy attacks feel like they are designed to be deliberately hard to see, like left-over green acid pools on a slightly green background.
The Blazing Beaks soundtrack is upbeat and electronic, reminiscent of the work from Danny Baranowski without the heavy metal influences. The first song Birds With Guns does an excellent job of setting the tone for the game, which can range from light-hearted and bouncy to more serious.
Music can often make or break a mediocre game, but the soundtrack from Blazing Beaks is a true gem. Some of the later songs on the soundtrack like Gooey Nest and Gravy Yard sound like a Twilight Zone version of the old Casino Night song from Sega’s early Sonic games. Feather Sale does a great job of feeling mysterious as you wait to see which items you’ll get from the mystic crow.
I enjoyed the soundtrack enough to add it the USB in my car for long commutes, so that’s saying something. Each song is only about two minutes long, but there’s not a single song on the whole track that I found annoying.
Blazing Beaks Final Thoughts
I’ve had plenty of fun with Blazing Beaks and trying out all the different characters, but I think Enter the Gungeon has more satisfying gameplay. Blazing Beaks has an interesting concept that doesn’t feel quite fleshed out enough with balanced items and variation in weapons.
After beating the game with the parrot, I’ve had little desire to go back and try with different characters. There just isn’t enough boss, gun, or character variation here to make it infinitely replayable as the developer intended. The Steam version of the game does have workshop support, so maybe we’ll see some interesting DLC. As it stands, Blazing Beaks on Switch is fun enough if you get it on discount.
The Not So Good
I paid for my copy of Blazing Beaks to review.
* You like roguelike/roguelite games where you start a new run each time
* You like the challenge of defeating bosses in bullet hell games
* You’re looking for a good co-op game to play with your family/friends
* You dislike roguelike mechanics in games where levels are randomized
* You don’t like bullet hell games where equipment is randomized
* If you didn’t like Enter the Gungeon, Nuclear Throne, or The Binding of Isaac
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