Biped Review – PC
+ Brilliant controls
+ Smart puzzle design
+ Varied environments
+ Solo/Co-op different experiences
- Overall short game (but fairly priced)
- Frustrating until you "get it"
- Unrealistic speed-run times
- Can't pick/switch your robot
Biped might just be one of the most original titles you’ll play in 2020. I suppose you want me to back up that bold statement with facts? Biped takes the whole platforming/puzzle genre and puts its own unique twist on the formula by not only featuring both a single and co-op experience designed from the ground up, but also in creating one of the most unique control schemes I’ve ever experienced. It even mixes in a charming yet disposable story about why you are doing what you are doing.
You’ll be playing as Aku or Sila, two bipedal robots sent down to a remote planet to reactivate several communication towers that have gone offline. Rather than drop you at the actual towers you’ll airdrop a great distance away and get to hike to the towers with many obstacles standing in your way. Of course the big hook to the game is the control scheme that focuses on the twin analog sticks of your gamepad with each stick controlling a corresponding leg on your robot. A short and useful tutorial instructs you on how to walk and manipulate objects within the world, and yes, learning to walk, grab, and use items has a bit of a learning curve. Trying to find that alternating stick-up cadence to simply move about takes time. Thankfully, the robots can skate about smooth surfaces, making movement a bit faster with less stress on your sticks, but it also makes it easier to slip off the edge of the environment. It’s up to you to find the proper balance.
Once you adapt to the unique control scheme Biped plays pretty much like any other 3D platformer. You hobble/skate around collecting coins, smashing barrels, picking carrots and cacti also to get coins, and interact with the occasion buttons or levers to advance your progress. There are special blue coins that spawn a timed coin collection challenge with a bonus reward if you complete them, and even rail-grind rides where you get to lean out and grab coins as you ride these rollercoaster-like rails.
What really impressed me the most was that Biped is a totally unique experience depending on whether you are playing solo or co-op. While each of the eight levels share the same overall design and layout, the way you navigate them and the types of puzzles and obstacles they contain are totally different; so much in fact that I can easily recommend you play the entire game twice (alone and with a friend) to experience the two diverse modes.
In co-op you have co-op chests that require both players to put their foot on a color-coded button to open. Get used to the blue and pink colors as they become critical in many other puzzle variations including numerous moving platforms that vanish if the wrong robot takes a step on the wrong color. Later in the game you will find several puzzles that require a certain amount of feet making contact with a certain button or platform. This often requires both players to work in unprecedented cooperation to navigate these obstacles. One particular puzzle requires 20 robot feet be soaking in a “hot tub” and you’ll need to find, rescue, and escort additional robots back to the tub to reach that tally.
If you are playing solo you get an entirely different experience with many of the co-op puzzles either missing or completely changed. In those puzzles that require a certain amount of feet you might have to find deactivated robots, pick them up and place them in certain locations to complete those foot-tally puzzles. Other times an AI-controlled robot will help solves puzzles like offering a counterbalance on tipping platforms. While the solo game is just as fun and challenging as the co-op version it is clear that the game was designed with co-op in mind as there is a much greater variety of two-player activities like the snow level where you are tethered together with a bungee cord for some thrilling ice wall climbing or tandem “log rolling” on cylinders where one player controls the other’s rotation. There is an entire level dedicated to whitewater rafting where both characters are once again tethered with a bungee cord trying to navigate treacherous waterfalls. In later levels you will use levers and knobs to manipulate ramps to guide a ball into a chute much like a Super Monkey Ball mini-game. Biped offers a great shared-screen experience with both local couch co-op or online matchmaking with public and private games. Just make sure you setup a party chat in Steam, as communication is imperative to success in this challenging puzzler.
One element of the game that is exclusive to the co-op mode is the Harmony score that calculates just how well you work together in solving the co-op puzzles. You are also tracked on completion time and how many times you died as well as collecting all the gold stars in the levels. Gold stars are the main incentive for replaying the levels, as the par time goals seem absurdly unrealistic unless you are a dedicated speed-runner. There are also hundreds of gold coins to collect, which can be spent in the in-game store to buy all sorts of adorable costume modifiers for your robot.
Biped looks fantastic with support for 1080p, 2K and 4K resolutions that glide by at max settings and 60fps with only a few minor hitches during the longer and faster rail-grind transitions between scenes. The landscapes are charming with a simple yet stylish art style that looks very Nintendo-ish that will appeal to all ages. The robot designs are immediately loveable even before you start dressing them up, and their animations are directly linked to your analog sticks for movement, interaction, or even twirling around on the head of a giant screw. You can even see individual footprints or skate tracks in the snow and sand. There is a real connection between you and your robot and it’s all because of the control scheme. There is some great music that fits the theme of the game as well as fun sound effects for the environment and the interactions with various switches and puzzles. Overall, the entire presentation is simply adorable.
Expect 3-4 hours to finish the co-op game and about the same for the single-player experience, making the $15 price tag totally worth it for a 6-8 hour game; more if you go back for achievements and 100% star collection. There are also two unlockable challenge levels for each of the eight worlds that offer some additional content, although these are not nearly as endearing as the main game as they take place in a sterile lab-like environment. Alone or with a friend, Biped is one of the most original and challenging platformers I’ve played this year, and if you are a fan of the genre you’ll definitely want to check this out.