What do you get if you cross DOOM with Guitar Hero?

Search me, because that would be a lazy comparison that fails to describe just how this game plays. If I had to boil the game down to a combination of other titles, I’d say that this rhythmic boomer shooter is probably more like Quake fused with Binding of Isaac – with some light Crypt of the Necrodancer thrown in to help spice things up.

Confused? Sure you are, but don’t worry. Sit back, stick on some Nordic Metal, and get ready for me to tell you what BPM: Bullets Per Minute is all about.

Many thanks to Playtonic Friends for the review code.


Forgoing a story in favour of its gameplay, the premise of the game is that you are protecting Asgard from the forces of the underworld. Disappointingly simple, I hear you cry; well, how about if I tell you that you play as a mother-lovin’ Valkyrie?

Oh yeah, now you’re interested.

Much like The Binding of Isaac, each of the seven stages are randomly generated with the map containing standard enemy arenas, as well as shops, armouries, banks, roulettes, mini boss rooms, and so on to mix things up a bit. There’s quite a fair amount that could potentially spawn, but only the shop and mini boss rooms have a 100% chance of spawning.

These rooms are all pretty important as that will determine how easy things are for you. Whilst skill certainly helps, a rocket launcher or a hat that causes damage to nearby enemies help a lot more. 

There’s a fair amount too in the game that can give you an extra hand. Weapons are the obvious bonus, and I’ll go into them in more detail later, but you can also gain equipment to equip on your arms, head, and feet that will aid you in a variety of ways. You can only have one piece of equipment on each body part at a time, but they provide invaluable modifiers which can make or break a run. One of my favourites was a shield that fires additional solar blasts at enemies you hit – perfect for taking down larger enemies and bosses. You also have additional abilities and secondary attacks that you can acquire to take down your opponents too, and some of them are incredibly overpowered in a glorious way.

Overall, there’s not a huge amount of weapons, equipment, and abilities on offer (you will see plenty of repeats across runs), but there’s at least enough to keep things interesting and pretty much everything has some kind of use.


But what about the rhythm part of the game? The title even emphasises how important it is!

Well, it is and it isn’t. This is no Crypt of the Necrodancer: your aiming reticle has a DDR style beat pumping into it that shows you the beat of the excellent Nordic Metal music, and your goal is to shoot and reload to the beat. Some guns shoot to the beat, but others can also shoot to the half-beat too. All other elements, including movement, dodging, enemies, and the like, all act like they normally would. It’s weird at first, and I’d recommend lowering the difficulty until you get the hang of the rhythm, but once you pick it up it’s surprisingly simple – especially since every track seems to have the same 4/4 beat, meaning that the rhythm is just something you’ll just learn it in time. Heck, with infinite ammo, you can spend as long as you like practicing.

And really, that’s about it. Failure results in your gun temporarily jamming, but otherwise it’s mainly used to increase your combo. There are even various settings you can adjust to make the timing looser, or just do it automatically if you really can’t keep to the simple beat. It’s all very accessible, but it does leave you wanting just a little bit more from the rhythm aspect of the game. The loot drops that appear don’t also seem to be tied to your skill, so accuracy won’t even offer you any major advantages so long as you can at least clear the room.

With that being said, just avoiding your gun from jamming is really enough incentive to actually try and shoot to the rhythm and it feels and sounds fantastic once you get it down. Hearing the boom boom, click click as you strafe around the room popping heads never gets old. Different weapons also have different firing and reloading rhythms for you to learn, including a revolver where you need to insert the individual bullets into the wheel with each beat. Whilst there aren’t any real surprises with the arsenal on offer, these differences alone are enough to make them exciting.

Aiming is never a problem either as the controls are top notch, featuring some absolutely excellently implemented gyro to help assist you in your quest to blast those demonic hoards.


It’s a shame then that the enemies you fight aren’t particularly exciting; they do their job, but none of them really feel more like generic fodder for you to take down. Bats, flies, spiders, shapeless blob things – they’re all here, and none of them are really all that exciting (although the flying enemies are way more dangerous than you’d expect them to be!). Bosses fair much better in that regard, with both better designs and more interesting attacks to set them apart. They can be incredibly tough, but then they’re meant to be. Because you will die.

And then you will try again and do better. And then you’ll die. And then you’ll go for another round. It’s the same gameplay roguelite loop that you’ll either love or hate, but the combat is so fun that it’s hard to really care that much. You won’t really get stronger with each run, but there are still permanent unlocks that you can use for the future, including a lot more characters and starting abilities / attacks that put you at an advantage from the moment you start a new playthrough.

The real star of the show though are the unlockable challenges that help vary things up a bit. They’re incredibly hard, but they modify the game in a way to make it feel a tad bit different. I unlocked a retro mode that applies a blocky filter to the game and centres your gun, and also another game mode where movement is also to the beat too. The difficulty may be tough, but they’re aimed at those who have already mastered the main game. Perhaps it would have been nice to have a difficulty selection when playing these bonus modes, but they’re still a lot of fun for the novelty alone.

I’ve probably sold you on the game (and that’s great because it is extremely addictive), but there’s also one major issue that I’ve been skirting around this whole time: the visuals. They’re rough. Really, really, rough. A game like this needs to run at 60 FPS, and the recently released Severed Steel also had to sacrifice a lot of quality to get the game running smooth; however, that game had an art direction that made it charming despite the nerfed visuals. Bullets Per Minute has grubby crypts that don’t exactly look great to begin with, so the downgrade makes it look muddier than a hyperactive hippo. At the end of the day, they did make the right decision between framerate and visuals, but it may be a hard pill for a lot of people to swallow. 


Bullets Per Minute is a unique and addictive experience that hooks you in the more you play. The visuals may put off many due to how murky they are, but the game runs as smooth as butter to help make you feel like a badass Valkyrie. If you can get this game on any other platform, that may be the better option, but if not then it’s a worthy fast paced shooter to add to your collection!