BEATBUDDY: TALE OF THE GUARDIANS / Reverb / PC
I guess you can technically call Beatbuddy a "platformer", though it takes place entirely underwater and you're swimming the whole time. Picture an easier and more linear Ecco the Dolphin, or the water level from TMNT NES but fun instead of terrible, and you're most of the way there.
The unique twist is that each of the game's six levels has a song composed by some electronica luminary who also does game soundtracks. In bare level stretches, you'll just hear the bass, but when you're around certain creatures you'll hear more elements of the song. The beat comes into play for a number of game mechanics such as getting past various timing-based puzzles and steering a submersible vehicle.
The backstory is that some bumbling Prince of this aquatic world thinks he's going to wake some sleeping gods and compose the ultimate symphony, but really he's just summoning all sorts of evil forces and generally making a hash of everything. So we steer our little Buddy through six levels that are fairly long -- about 30 to 60 minutes each -- but also peppered very liberally with checkpoints.
Beatbuddy is indeed a "casual" game, but that's about the worst criticism you can level at it. There were reportedly some nasty bugs to it back in 2013 when it first came out, but they seem to have since been cleared up --- either that or I was very fortunate, but I didn't run into the stuff that other people mentioned online.
With an almost total lack of enemies except for some fish that rush you here and there, the game mostly focuses on puzzles, and it's a fair criticism that some of these are too easy to be really interesting and simply rely on rotating bounce pads to very finicky angles. Some killer "puzzle bosses" really would have done a lot for the game, but the only real heavy antagonist is a giant fish that kind of lacksadaisically chases you through the second half of the second level. It's not really fair to criticize it heavily on this basis, however, as it does voluntarily wear the mantle of "casual."
You're left wishing the game would give you just a bit more in terms of puzzle design and overall length ... but that's always a hell of a lot better than ragequitting 30 minutes in. Here's hoping Threaks gets funding for a more polished follow-up.
* Gameplay Video