When I was about fifteen years old, my dad surprised me with a brand new drum set. A full set of shining black Pearl drums, the whole kit and caboodle. At first, I was thrilled, spending most of my time bashing away on the toms, thumping the kick-drum, and snapping the snare. When it finally came time for drum lessons, I realized: I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I couldn't keep the beat with the high-hat while hitting the snare on the first and fourth. I couldn't hold onto a rhythm long enough to sustain a few bars, let alone an entire song. Eventually, grateful though I was for the incredible gift, I had to admit I just couldn't figure it out and traded in the drum set for a high-tech digital sampler, which I loved and played with for years. But I'll never forget the frustration of trying to keep the rhythm while thumping out other beats. That failure is exactly the failure I feel playing BE-A Walker, the new side-scrolling stomp-and-shooter from Tequilabyte Studio.
What Is It Like To BE-A Walker?
In BE-A Walker you play the role of a colonist on the planet Eldorado. Earth is in shambles, and humanity has reached for the stars in a desperate attempt to survive. On Eldorado, the air is thick with dangerous bacteria and the indigenous inhabitants are incredibly hostile. Your job is to squash the planet's natives. The way you do that is by piloting a BE-A Walker (Bipedal Enhanced Assault Walker), a giant two-legged mech armed to the teeth with laser blasters, rocket launchers, and all manner of destruction. Armored and weaponed though you are, the native resistance is strong and numerous, and their flaming arrows, giant spears, and homemade bombs can lay a Walker to waste in minutes.
Using your weapons and, more acutely, your stomping feet, you'll side-scroll through countless missions, most of which boil down to squashing the resistance. The actual gameplay is where skill, patience, and the ability to multi-task are paramount, and it's where I struggled and, ultimately, failed miserably.
What Is So Difficult About BE-A Walker?
To operate your mech, you control not just the firing of weapons, but every actual step you take. Using the W A S D keys, you completely control your movement. Holding down the A or the D key will lean you backward or forward, and pressing down the W or the S key moves the left or right leg, respectively. To move forward, you hold down the D key to lean to the right, and alternately press the W and S keys to move your legs in a stepping motion. You can aim your steps to stomp your enemies underfoot, but while you're walking you also need to fire your weapons at the incoming attackers. Each weapon has an aggressive cooldown, which you can ease with a simple leveling up system.
The game progresses, with you stomping, shooting, earning credits, fixing your mech, and slowly leveling up your defenses, weaponry, and oxygen supply (your oxygen meter is constantly decreasing, a ticking timer to keep you from sitting still and waiting for the enemies to come to you).
At first, the story seems straightforward. Your colonizing forces are trying to utterly destroy the local natives, which your commanders refer to constantly as "savages," but as the game progresses, you have to make moral choices as to the type of person you want to be. As the promotional copy for the game rather succinctly puts it, will you choose to be a "human" fighting for your planet's right to survive on a hostile world, or will you choose to be a "humanist," cracking back against your own colonial forces? For a side-scrolling indie game about stomping little bad guys, this is a really captivating decision tree to follow. At first, I was a bit shocked at the way your military leaders referred to the natives, but as it became clear the game Tequilabyte Studio was playing, the dialogue helped the story bloom.
Though the action is acutely difficult, the side-missions can become a bit repetitive. Unless you're an expert at the game, you'll need to grind through plenty of these side-quests to earn enough credits to level up your mech. Most of them are the same iteration over and over (walk, shoot, barely scrape by), but some of them are so repetitive they even repeat dialogue. I can't tell you how many stranded scientists begged for my help with the same few catchphrases.
Only in the main quests, where the story unfolds, is there a bit of variety, including some (very frustrating) levels of escorting scientists (who suck up lots of extra oxygen) and traversing minefields.
The art style and design is clearly inspired by Return of the Jedi, with your Walker looking strikingly similar to an AT-ST Walker, and your diminutive foes looking equally similar to Ewoks (though much less adorable). The color palettes are bright and vibrant, and the gore is ever-present. As you stomp your foes, your mech's feet will soon become tacky with blood, stark red against the natural greens of the world.
BE-A Walker Review | Final Thoughts
This game was, at least for me, so punishingly difficult that I had a hard time enjoying myself. The act of walking and shooting proved too much for my uncoordinated fingers, and I often died with just mere seconds to go before victory. There is an auto-walk feature that was recently patched into the game, but it doesn't work as reliably as it should. Very often I would double-tap the direction I needed to walk (that's how you initiate it) and find it not activating, leaving me leaning like a fool while my enemies destroyed me. Also, the reticle which guided my weaponry was, on some maps, very difficult to see against the ground. These complaints aren't game-breakers, but tweaking them would greatly improve quality of life.
The game calls for precision and patience, and many times during my playthrough I lacked both. BE-A Walker should be commended for its innovative design, but its difficulty (even on "Easy" and "Arcade" modes) will absolutely be a barrier of entry for some players. In other words, if you can keep the beat on the high-hat while you rattle off a paradiddle on the snare, you may have what it takes to play BE-A Walker.
TechRaptor reviewed BE-A Walker on macOS via Steam with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, XBOX One, and PC via Steam.
- Branching Narrative
- Unique Gameplay
- Intensely Difficult
- Repetitive Side-quests