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Video Game / BPM: Bullets Per Minute

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Have you ever been playing a shooter game with a really good, driving beat, and found yourself shooting along with the music? Jumping along to the beat? Hitting the reload button at that sweet spot in the song? What if there was a game that encouraged that behavior by making it a gameplay element? And you were a cool Valkyrie with an arsenal of awesome guns?

BPM: Bullets Per Minute is a rhythm-action FPS rogue-like developed and published by UK-based independent game studio Awe Interactive where you must shoot, jump and dodge to the beat of an epic rock soundtrack. Delve into a randomly generated dungeon where one missed note can lead to your death. Gain game-changing abilities and loot powerful weaponry to defeat your ancient enemy: Nidhogg. Fight as a mighty Valkyrie to repel the forces of the underworld from invading the world of Asgard.

In BPM, all of your actions and the actions of your enemies are tied to the beat of the music. Your enemies perform a dance-like sequence of attacks to an epic rock opera. BPM is inspired by retro shooters of the 90ís. It is fast, frenetic and rhythmical. You can double jump, dash, rocket jump and bunny hop to evade your opponents.

Your goal is to reach the end of randomly generated dungeons, collecting different weapons, abilities and items each time you play. These weapons and abilities can radically alter the way you play, making each playthrough unique.

You must defeat 7 bosses to reach the final boss. Each boss moves and attacks in a unique way that you must learn to exploit if you want to succeed. Some attacks require you to jump over fields of lava, some to dodge fast projectiles, some to hold fast for a beat.

It released for PC via Steam and GOG on September 15, 2020, released for the Xbox One and PS4 on October 5, 2021, and released for the Nintendo Switch on September 8, 2022.

Tropes for this Game:

  • Armor As Hit Points: Armor is added to your hit point total and subtracted first. By default, Freyr starts the game with 150 armor and no health, meaning he can't heal at all unless he finds more armor, gets the Dragon Skin or Svalinn shields (both of which regenerate one segment of shields), or gets Health Upgrades at Huginn's Shop.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Many of the weapons are powerful but have a drawback that makes them difficult to use without supporting items or upgrades.
    • Shotgun Pistol: Very powerful up close, but lacks range, only holds 4 rounds by default, and has a three-step reload.
    • Sawn-off Shotgun: Even more powerful than the Shotgun Pistol, but still lacks range and only holds 2 rounds by default. Also has a "two-and-a-half step" reload, where you only have to push the reload button twice, but the sound has an additional click a half-beat later even though you can shoot immediately, which can be confusing when trying to build a rhythm.
    • Rocket Launcher: It doesn't fire on the half beat, making it slower than most other weapons.
    • Grenade Launcher: Has good splash damage but absolutely terrible range, even with Range upgrades.
    • Minigun: Can't start firing unless it's on the beat, meaning it's possible to pull the trigger and have nothing happen immediately. It also starts firing slow (on the beat), speeds up (on the half beat) after 3 beats, and then speeds up (on the quarter beat) after 3 more beats, but it has only 30 rounds by default, which it will shoot through in just a few seconds.
  • Badass Fingersnap: The Snap Fingers ultimate ability. Your character snaps their fingers, and a random enemy gets damaged every quarter-beat for four whole beats.
  • Boring, but Practical: A number of weapons, abilities, and items are significantly better than others.
    • Weapons:
      • Basic Pistol: Doesn't do a lot of damage, but it holds 8 rounds, has decent range and a quick two-step reload.
      • Pump Shotgun: Isn't as powerful as the other shotgun weapons, but holds 6 rounds by default and is very fast to reload. It also has better range than most shotgun-type weapons.
      • Revolver: Good range, better damage than the basic pistol, and holds 6 rounds by default. Even with the drawback of single-round reloads, the revolver is a substantial upgrade over the Basic Pistol and the reload timing is consistent. It benefits from all upgrades and can carry you to the final boss if you're so inclined.
      • Haunted Revolver: Basically the Shotgun Pistol with better range, slightly lower power, and a much faster reload, making it a straight upgrade to the Shotgun Pistol.
      • Raygun: Can fire up to 7 shots in a short timespan before overheating, but doesn't need to reload, making it easier to use than some other weapons in exchange for burst damage, although it doesn't gain any benefit from Clip upgrades or infinite ammo.
    • Abilities:
      • Anything that lets you heal: the two primary healing abilities massively increase your longevity, and have quick cooldowns as well.
      • Njord's Riches: Gives you a few free coins with every use. It won't directly help you in combat, but you'll get a consistent flow of extra cash, which can be just enough to get you that powerful item or weapon you've got your eye on. It also has a fairly quick recharge (two rooms), and upgrading your Ability stat increases the number of coins it drops.
    • Items:
      • The Best Defense: Take all the powerful weapons that are limited by the fact that they need to be reloaded frequently. Remove the need to reload. The biggest winner on this one is the Minigun, which can start firing as soon as you enter a room, and only stop when you've cleared it: as long as you didn't get hit, you'll get a perfect multiplier, as the Minigun can't shoot off beat.
      • Dragon Shield: Constantly regenerates 25 armor as long as you're not actively taking damage. No attack in the game will ever do more than 25 damage, so as long as you can avoid being hit for 5 beats, you'll never take damage. It also makes damage drawback, like the Sword of Damocles and the Fire Wall, completely a non-issue, as you'll automatically heal any damage you take from them.
      • Skeleton Key: Gives you infinite keys. In addition to being able to open every single chest and locked door you come across, you can also sacrifice an infinite number of keys to the Key Statue, letting you get very powerful items or upgrades for free.
      • Chaos Boots: Inflicts damage to enemies in the room randomly every beat. It's entirely possible to use this upgrade to clear a room without doing anything. The downside of not giving you as many points (because you're not increasing your multiplier) doesn't matter, as you'll be getting Flawless Clears every room if you're good at dodging.
      • Golden Bracelet: This guarantees that all enemies will drop at least one coin, occasionally dropping two to three. All of this quickly adds up, leaving you with hundreds of gold coins after a few levels, taking care of all your money problems for a run and letting you buy all upgrades or items that you need.
    • Spells:
      • Teleport: Instantly teleports you wherever you're looking. Compared to the flashier Spells, it offers no overwhelming offensive power or healing, simply moving from A to B. It also has no cooldown, lets you instantly get out of a tricky situation if you're surrounded, and completely trivializes any platforming in a level; the player can easily access all the hidden chests and Shrines that normally require precise platforming and ramp jumping, while leaving their inventory free for other gear.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Unlocking the stairs in Asgard 1 will take you to the Asgard Crypt in place of Asgard 2, which sports significantly stronger enemies for that stage of the game in return for some valuable item rooms.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • The Charge Pistol, which doesn't require reloading but only fires a half-beat after you pull the trigger. It's harder, and stranger, to use, but it can save your butt if you're having difficulty with the reloading of the higher-end weapons.
    • The Valkyries that are not Göll all have something that makes them play very differently as well. Freyr doesn't have health, but starts with 150 armor, meaning you'll need to find and prioritize Health Upgrades; Hildr starts with less health and a bit of armor but level 5 speed, making her a Lightning Bruiser; Njord can't use guns at all, but makes up for it with magic blasts that never need to be reloaded; Odr starts with a bit of luck and a shotgun, but can't take a hit at all as a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
    • One magic spell you can get from the Library, The Quest, gives no indication of what it does when you pick it up, and takes forever to charge (usually needing you to clear out an entire map to charge up). When you cast it, you get +1 to all your stats and health regen until you leave the floor. Sounds a bit lame... until you realize health regen means infinite health during entire floor, provided you aren't getting hit too often. Just using Quest once per floor is enough to not worry about getting hit anymore. And you can cast it multiple times if you can charge it up again.
    • The Energy Cannon, a strange-looking rocket launcher-esque weapon, fires exploding bolts that detonate after 1 beat, but itself only fires them after a half-beat delay, has only 1 ammo in its clip without clip upgrades, and has the same Revolver-like reloading mechanism, making for a very unorthodox-feeling weapon. It has great accuracy and range by default, but deals barely any Splash Damage, meaning every bolt has to hit an enemy squarely for it to kill. Its default clip size causes it to struggle facing crowds (practically every room has groups of enemies in it). To make up for its unwieldiness and drawbacks, however, it does bonkers amounts of damage that— with a few damage boosts— make it capable of one-shotting all bosses up to Svartalfheim!
  • Degraded Boss: All of the bosses from Asgard, Vanaheim, and Svartalfheim come back as regular enemies in Helheim.
  • Dump Stat: The Ability stat enhances the player's Secondary and Ultimate abilities, but these have to be unlocked separately for each character or found from a rare library room and not every one of them benefits from Ability. This means that in many runs Ability will do absolutely nothing.
  • Early Game Hell: In general, the game is at its hardest when you first boot it up. At the start of the first run, only Göll is playable and merchants will offer only the most basic powerups. Not to mention that the player will have to adjust to the game's core concept of only shooting on the beat. Unlocking new characters doesn't immediately solve this, as everyone's skills are locked until you beat Nidhogg with them on what the game calls Easy Mode; if you want their Ultimates as well, you'll have to beat the game on Hard with a character. The first level of Asgard is generally also the most difficult, as you have only your starting weapon and base stats. The all-important Range stat is also at zero, which means you'll struggle to hit your enemies without getting hit by them. If you can get through Asgard 2 with decent resources, you'll be well-positioned to make it through Vanaheim and Svartelfheim, which are considerably easier.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Practice difficulty reduces the damage you take and slows enemy attacks. However, you can only play the first four levels on this difficulty.
  • Excuse Plot: The plot basically boils down to "Hey, go kill these cool monsters to the beat!"
  • Genre Mashup: The game is a fusion of First-Person Shooter, Rhythm Game, and Roguelike, borrowing conventions from each.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: When you're one hit away from death, the UI will flash red and a heartbeat sound will play to the beat of the soundtrack.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted. Each Valkyrie can carry only a single weapon at a time, unless they have a certain accessory which lets them carry two.
  • In-Game Banking Services: Some levels will have a "Bank" room. The bank allows the players to deposit or withdraw coins, and the balance is preserved between runs.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Keys will open any locked chest or door, and doing so uses one up. The Skeleton Key item replaces these keys and allows you to unlock all doors for free.
  • Interface Screw: The extremely rare Inverted level modifier flips your view upside-down for the duration, though your UI remains in place, thankfully.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Par for the course for a roguelike, but certain weapon, ultimates and gear are astronomically ahead of the rest of their class to the point where finding just one of them guarantees a good run.
  • Macrogame: Several:
    • Buying anything from Huginn or Muninn increases your "shop loyalty", allowing them to sell more things at once: when you start the game, Huginn will only sell two items, and Muninn will only sell one. After repeated runs, Muninn will offer three different guns and three regular upgrades, while Huginn will offer up to six items for sale and a free healing item. The increase in choices and available options can make subsequent runs much easier.
    • Some floors have a "Bank" room, allowing you to store up to 10 coins, as well as withdraw as many as you have saved. This allows you to compensate a run giving too little money with runs that give a surplus. Additionally, having 100 coins in the bank gives you access to a special bank chest.
    • Beating the game on Easy and Hard with a character unlocks a starting ability for them. This makes it easier to advance to Hard/Hellish.
  • Meta Power-Up: The Adventurer's Fedora allows you to rotate which gear slot your items and spells are equipped to. This gives you a huge amount of control over your build, allowing you to equip multiple equipment items from the same class that would normally be mutually exclusive (e.g. one shield that provides infinite ammo and another that gives armour regeneration) and ensure that you only ever swap out your weakest item.
  • Mickey Mousing: Gunshots, reloads, ability usage, and enemy attacks all happen to the beat.
  • Musical Gameplay: The core tenet of Bullets Per Minute is that everything in-game occurs to the beat of the soundtrack. The player can only fire, reload, and dodge to the tempo of the soundtrack, and certain powerups trigger on each beat (e.g. Rhythmic Chaos Boots and the Hat of Madness). Enemies are bound by the same rules and can only attack and move to the tempo.
  • No-Sell:
    • After taking damage, most Vanaheim enemies will start to glow, representing the fact that they are now shielded. The shield is completely impenetrable, and the enemies can still act while it's up. You need to kill them on the first shot, or dodge them until they're vulnerable again.
    • Clockwork Souls will also crouch down into a ball once they're hit, and while they're in ball form, they cannot be hurt by anything until they stand back up.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Range and Damage. Many weapons have pathetic range, unable to cross even half of a large room. Once Range is up to level 5 or 6, you can reliably hit any enemy from a comfortable distance, letting you avoid damage that much easier. Damage in contrast helps you survive by eliminating key targets in an encounter quickly and reducing the number of simultaneous attacks you have to dodge, and is especially useful for taking elite enemies and bosses with more challenging attacks off the board quickly.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: You can purchase a revolver as a weapon (Freyr starts with it as well). It's much stronger than Göll's basic pistol, but only has six shots and takes longer to reload, meaning it's a bit of a trade-off.
    • The "Haunted Revolver" meanwhile, doesn't have very much in common with a normal revolver, using four revolving barrels instead of a cylinder.
  • Variable Mix: Each floor has an associated song, with two distinct parts: one that plays during the majority of the level, and one that plays during the boss battle. The boss theme itself has two parts, depending on if the boss is above or below half health. Huginn and Muninn also have their own themes which play when inside their shop or armoury, regardless of the floor.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Draugur is the first boss you'll face and can potentially be the first enemy to use telepgraphed attacks that appear on the beat, something that more enemies will start incorporating for the rest of the game once you manage to get past him. This means that if you don't learn how to properly dodge these types of attacks you won't get much farther even if you beat him. He can also be quite tanky if the player gets unlucky with their weapon drops or if higher difficulties give him a modifier.
  • A Winner Is You: Defeat the final boss and you're rewarded with one more flash of the game's title and End-Game Results Screen.

Alternative Title(s): BPM