“[Y]ou play as bacteria lost in the human body. As the heart beats, everything in the body moves to the rhythm. You’ll swim through the bloodstream to the beat, exploring, fighting other microbes, and duplicating yourself as you go. As the progression of your lifecycle weakens the body, you’ll face terrifying challenges; hungering white blood cells, intense fever, and, in the end, the other copies of yourself.”
Full disclosure right ahead:
Sebastian Standke used a free key of “biorhythm”, provided by Brady Soglin, to play the game and write an article about it.
You awake as a single bacteria in an unknown place, surrounded by the corpses of other monads. The loneliness bothers you, but soon you discover some ‘food’ and simply split yourself: Hooray, your ‘sister’ is born! Together you go on a tour of discovery and meet some friendly, but also defenseless creatures, which you kill and eat to reproduce. Other microbes prove to be not such easy targets for your hunger… Some are spiky, some can shoot projectiles at you, some are excellent fighters just like you are and then there is the seemingly almighty phage. A weird, but also emotional tale finds its beginning right here, in the human organism.
“biorhythm” features some excellent background music and hand-made graphics. The dialogues are pretty well written, too, but what I mostly admire are some of the cutscenes, which can be seen as a proof for some neat dramaturgy skills. One scene especially comes to my mind, which can be found in the end of the second of five acts overall: The dance between two platozoon groups in a winter-like scenario. There is nothing all too special about the choreography itself, but the minimalistic beauty, emerging thanks to the symmetry, somehow gets me. Maybe the abrupt and drastic ending of the scene helped with that.
A very interesting choice on the aesthetical level is the movement pattern, as the bacteria swarms are only able to swim around when the heartbeat rings out. That is a positive thing, because it actually gives the game a special rhythm, but it also has some negative impact on the gameplay in my opinion. It feels unnecessarily difficult to attack other microbes, as you have to time each move perfectly (and you also need some space between the two entities to succeed). It gets better with some practice, but it just doesn’t feel very intuitive. Thanks to the many automatically saving checkpoint it’s not such a big bother in the aftermath, but you might encounter some try’n’error sessions for some levels.
Besides of that little flaw, “biorhythm” is a great little game. There are many little passages and secrets to discover, the whole plot offers some surprises to its players and like I already said, the audiovisual presentation is really well done! If your heart pounds for a quirky gaming experience about bacteria, then this was made for you.