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Beat Sneak Bandit

Tap. Tap. Tap. Pause. Tap. Pause. Tap.

He needs to stay on beat with the tune. That’s the only way we’re going to get anywhere. Funk-infused electronica oozes over the cool minimalist pulse. The rhythm’s felt and there’s the response. Tap. Tap. Tap. He pauses for the programmed electric light. Snapping in time, he waits, then takes the stealthy route, picking up lost fragments of timepieces along the way. Tap. Tap. An obstacle obstructs the path and he pauses, waits, real patient. And he waits. And cue. He’s stuck; off-beat and now jeopardized by the interruption in flow. Taap. He barely makes it out and approaches the guard. The bandit needs to sneak up just behind him and drop through the floor and collect the large timepiece – if he times it just right… Real nervous, he proceeds. Tap. Ta-p. Taa-p. The guard turns around and flips the alarm. The bandit’s been caught in the act but he doesn’t let it get him down.

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The nefarious Duke Clockface set up room-after-room of rhythmic-puzzle machinations, arrangements of mind-bending traps and twists that challenge the bandit’s gift for the rhythm. The thing is the bandit can only move on beat and then only proceed forward. So, Clockface alters the layouts accordingly, and begins sneaking in beats, everything from minor shifts in accents to more complex syncopated patterns. On a good run, the bandit’s patterns would translate well into straight-forward musical notation. And yet the process all follows in a minimal procession of taps.

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Bandit takes his time and collects the clock pieces where he can. Some hours pass and he comes to find the rooms progressively easier as he sinks into the rhythms and matches up on beats. Everything moves with the music, following the simple arrangements of clear-cut rhythms. There’s that visual layer to it, an efficient backdrop that contributes to a kind of combined audiovisual experience. Nothing is added which isn’t essential to the design. There are no complications to get in the way of Clockface’s maniacal schemes and while his later sets of contraptions pile on more complex mechanics, like warping portals and enemies sweeping over the area above, there’s never any problem a little rhythm can’t fix.

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The bandit handles it just fine, embracing his instincts in identifying rhythms. There’s no forcing it, he comes to realize, you’re either feeling the pulse of the rhythm or you’re not. When it happens, though, there’s something special and good about that feeling. And sometimes, that’s all it takes.

Review based on version 1.0.

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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