Early Access Impressions: Beyond Flesh and Blood Is A Bloody Sci-Fi Mech Shooter
Beyond Flesh and Blood, developed by Pixel Bomb Games, is a game I want to be good. I want to love it, I want to praise it. Before I can however, it just has a few issues that I assume will be fixed through its time on Early Access.
What is it?
Set in future post-apocalyptic Manchester, you play as Ethan Cunningham controlling mechs -- so really you control mechs. You have a handler, Javinder Chowdri, who helps talk you through what needs to be done. The UK setting is something new, which was rather refreshing. (When did you last see a game set in North England? I can't think of any.)
What's a bit rough around the edges?
There are a few issues with Beyond. The first is that the dialogue can sometimes go on for a while. This forces you to stay in one area, artificially extending the playtime. Either being able to skip dialogue, or saving the long conversation for when you are moving about could work.
It feels like the game was built for controllers, as many of the keyboard prompts are just incorrect -- like asking you to press Q when it means CTRL. And some of the key bindings appear to have a hidden dual function. You can release a scan, which highlights all enemies in the area. Unfortunately, it also appears to launch rockets.
Animation wise, Beyond does a good job; the mechs themselves are well animated. But the human characters just sort of run on the spot while being moved forward. There is no sense that they are actually moving. It feels like what happened back in the early days of 3D games -- [insert nostalgic thoughts about the N64 and PS1/2].
None of this stops the fun, though, and probably the most fun to be had in Beyond is the survival mode. This is wave defense mode with the most nimble and deadly mech, the prototype frame. It can, however, be hard to spot enemies and no matter how gruesome and well animated the executions are, sometimes things just blur together.
I'm supposed to have a dog in one hand.
Beyond still has a solid core to its gameplay
Forget funny animations, forget keys not prompting correctly, even forget the instability -- as I had several crashes and many frame rate drops. The core combat is a lot of fun. Beyond, being third person, allows you to run at the camera while firing behind you. You get to see the awesome shoulder mounted gun do its thing, you get to see rockets flying up and backwards towards their target. Also, Beyond look pretty good, it's just a shame that every time you quit the game, it forgets all of your video settings.
There isn't a massive amount to do, other than playing on the one survival mode map over and over. Beyond doesn't offer quite enough for it's price tag, yet. But I can see that it has a lot of potential, and hope the team at Pixel Bomb Games in Manchester can bring it up to scratch.