Some games wear their influences lightly, some try to disguise traditional mechanics under a smokescreen of new features whilst others embrace their origins proudly. Bezier: Second Edition, a remade port of a Steam game from 2016, takes more than a few notes from Geometry Wars. Indeed, a cursory glance would suggest that Bezier is little more than a simple clone, sharing the bright graphical style and twin stick controls of Bizarre Creations’ classic shooter. The question is, then, what does Bezier do to justify being played over the games that it borrows from?
Perhaps the most instant difference between Bezier and Geometry Wars is that Bezier contains a story. That story is almost completely impenetrable and I could never really decide whether it was a brilliant satire of pretentious videogame narratives or an earnest attempt at what can only be described as post modern poetry but it is there nonetheless. It begins by setting the shooting inside some kind of giant computer in which digitised versions of all living things are contained because of reasons. This narrative is drip fed through brief voiceovers at the beginning of a series of branching levels in the standard arcade mode. To be honest, this plot boils down to beat the big bad and save the digital world which is more than enough motivation for me. The less said about the ending’s attempt at profundity the better.
Graphically, Bezier is striking. The contrast between the black background and the vividly coloured swarms of enemies is effective and makes for a mostly clear experience. The sheer amount of stuff happening onscreen does result in things getting very cluttered at times – especially as I was playing on a Switch Lite. I would sometimes find myself getting hit by bullets or enemies that were difficult to pick out against everything else that was going on. Fortunately, Bezier departs from its influences in using an energy bar rather than one hit kills so there is some margin for error. At harder difficulties this energy bar can be drained pretty quickly though so you do have to keep on your toes.
Bezier really stands out in its use of music, with a dynamic score that veers between classical samples and banging techno. This is all powered by the ‘BezierSynth’ which creates a fluid score that demands to be pumped up to high volumes. While nonsensical, the voiceover has a sense of drama that also helps to motivate you. The big bad, Magus Domus, steals the show with some fantastically quirky taunts, including the classic of BBC profanity dubs, ‘MelonFarmer’. The result is a score that really helps you to get into the flow that high score games need.
The aforementioned story mode is the first one available, with daily challenges and an endurance trial unlocked as you play. All of these have high score tables, and the addictive quality of chasing the 3 letter initials ahead of you will keep you playing long into the night. Every mode can be played at 3 different skill levels, with the higher ones offering both increased risk and increased bonuses. I would have liked to have seen some built-in achievements similar to those on the Steam version to encourage specific approaches but in this version high scores are the only aim.
Whichever mode you play as the basic loop is the same. Waves of enemies swarm towards you and must be avoided and destroyed. Chains of successful shots lead to score multipliers and occasionally stars will be dropped that can be used to level up your attacks or unlock secondary weapons. Attacking can be done either through the usual twin stick method or by using the A button to auto-aim. I wasn’t clear what the effect of using one rather than the other was but imagine that it will make a difference to score multipliers in some way. In a nod to old school shoot’em ups, collecting stars cycles through a range of available upgrades.