Recently I purchased Beat Hazard on Steam. The demo gave me a taste, enough to wet my interest. With a little nudging a succumbed. It's only 10 bucks right?
The game will inevitably draw comparisons to Audiosurf, another 10 dollar indie title that generates tracks out of your music. I have been playing Audiosurf since the Beta and bought it a short time after it was released. After playing Audiosurf, it becomes clear that Beat Hazard its the weaker of the two, by a long shot.
If you can only get one of the two, go with Audiosurf. Unless you REALLY like twin stick shooters
The problem I have with Beat Hazard is not the fact that your music is not synced totally. Its not the seizure inducing effects.
Its the fact that underneath all of its effects and and colors, Beat Hazard is barely a game. And a not a very well designed one either.
I have logged in quite a bit of time with the game, so it is not entirely without merit. Its just that every time I play, the little game designer in me comes up with more small nags for the game. Having played Audiosurf only increases the frustration; Audiosurf itself is very well designed.
When I play Beat Hazard it get the idea that the creator had very little idea what makes a game design solid. The game itself is a mediocre shooter with weak art to match. Without the particle effects it would be incredibly empty. If it wasn't for my addiction to arena shooters I would have stopped playing a long time ago. Even now I find my self distracted by sessions of Everyday Shooter, another strong example of design.
By contrast, Audiosurf shows not only a strong sense of visual design, but a strong sense of game design as well. The models and colors of the game are simple, bright and complement each other. Color in the game changes to fit the intensity of the song. In Beat Hazard colors are there just cause. Even the small details, such as the fonts used and images for Achievements show a competence that Beat Hazard does not have. Beat Hazard has some of the ugliest fonts and Achievements I have ever seen. Not to mention being totally generic, boringly named, and require nothing more than time to achieve for the most part. Less than a week in and I already accomplished almost half of them.
In the gameplay department, Audiosurf totally has Beat Hazard beat. Audiosurf plays like a racing/puzzle game. Beat Hazard is a 360 shooter. Although I love shooters, Audiosurf is much more fresh and lends itself much better to music syncing (though still not perfect). The only immediate effect in Beat Hazard are the bullet patterns you fire. Audiosurf shows notable syncing in the background, ship, and in the game itself. It also allows you to play the game in a multitude of ways, accommodating play styles and adding variety. Audiosurf also features Leaderboards on a song by song basis. There is no such feature in Beat Hazard. Everyone shares the same Leaderboard, regardless of what songs they have been playing. It does not encourage competition except for high score junkies. While you could argue that Beat Hazard could get these in the future, the fact is, Audiosurf had them since the start.
Audiosurf was designed strongly around its use of music and level generation. Beat Hazard was barely designed at all.