Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Mister Beam has some great things going for it. Its puzzles are clever, its atmosphere is excellent, and its platforming is intriguing. However, when all of its elements come together, they leave some frustrating schisms in their wake.
When curious but dimwitted English explorer Mr. Beam ventures into the ancient temple of the Old Ones, it’s up to the player to protect him from the dangers within. Mister Beam plays like Lemmings with only one lemming: players manipulate the environment to indirectly get Mr. Beam to safety, and maybe snag some treasure along the way.
The game takes this idea in lots of fun and creative directions. At first, players fend off deadly bats by guiding Mr. Beam near torches. Later on though, players light Mr. Beam’s path by scattering glowing crystals that move much more erratically. Each level also ends with some kind of light redirection puzzle, like drawing a shape or opening a sun door, and some will leave players genuinely stumped.
But while these slow and cerebral puzzle parts are great, the faster, more action-heavy platforming parts are far less successful. Mr. Beam can only move forward, but players can stop him, force him to run, and have him slide under and jump over obstacles. Unfortunately, way too many sections require a level of timing and precision the more methodical adventure game controls just aren’t equipped to handle. For example, in one level players must wait for a platform to rise so Mr. Beam can jump onto it. While they are waiting, a mummy emerges and starts shambling towards Mr. Beam. Players can’t move him too far towards the edge because he needs a running start to make the jump, but the farther he hangs back the more danger he’s in. And because Mr. Beam can’t move backwards, it becomes much too easy for players to screw themselves over and lose valuable progress. It’s tedious, not tense. Even worse are the deaths caused by the slow, unskippable dialogue.
It’s a shame, because the rest of Mister Beam is actually very enjoyable. The painted underground caverns are beautiful, and since illumination plays such a pivotal role, the lighting effects are spectacular. The sound effects are incredibly immersive as well and make the lengthy campaign feel like a real journey into the unknown.
Ultimately, there is a lot to like in Mister Beam. The bad parts are bad, but at least they don’t fully snuff out the good.