Available On: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4 (Coming soon: Switch)
“Biped” is an awkward name for a cute co-op platformer, but it does accurately describe our small robot protagonists. Armed with nothing but their own suction-feet, they’re tasked with solving a series of challenging puzzles. Each level features a rich variety of puzzle designs, but the awkward dual-stick leg controls often lead more to frustration than fun.
Wall-E and Me
Biped is designed for simultaneous local co-op. Two players control friendly robots sent to a human-less earth to restore beacons that act as intergalactic lighthouses. Each level features a different location and theme, from canyons and deserts to snowy mountains and river rapids.
The sole controls use the left and right joysticks to move the robots’ left and right feet. It’s equal parts funny and frustrating. Most physics-based games are built for laughs, and Biped certainly has its share of charm, with adorable digital faces and child-like animation. But the puzzles are no joking matter.
Even the earliest puzzles in the first level took my eight-year old and me a solid 20-30 minutes per puzzle, such as a floor that swapped colors every time it was stepped on, forcing us to alternate one foot at a time. Moving in a 3D world is difficult enough for young or inexperienced gamers; add coordinating precise steps with another person and you have a recipe for disaster.
Thankfully the bots respawn instantly and each bot has unlimited lives, though you can earn trophies for completing levels within a certain number of lost lives. Each level is full of an impressive suite of puzzle designs, stretching the single control gimmick into several hours of gameplay. Balance boards must be carefully navigated so both bots can reach their destinations. A tumbler must be rotated by one bot while another makes their way across. Both bots have to survive rushing waterfalls while tethered together in floating tubes in a river.
My favorite level tethered both bots together with a length of rope. The puzzles involved hanging onto vertical walls while the other bot swung to the next platform. Precise movement wasn’t nearly as important, and we found ourselves giggling and laughing the entire time.
But during other sequences my eight year old was reduced to tears, such as grabbing an object mid-railway and trying to hand it off to the other bot in rapid succession. Crying for mommy to come help finish a fast-paced sequence in her stead doesn’t exactly make Biped a friendly game for kids.
Completing each level unlocks additional challenge scenarios, diving deeper into different kinds of puzzles, but without the colorful backdrops of the Earth locations. We found the basic co-op campaign plenty challenging, but it was nice to have over 20 levels of puzzle content.
If you don’t have a co-op partner, Biped also offers a solo campaign. The levels are laid out the same, but every puzzle has been redesigned, altering the interesting co-op puzzle variety into a series of simple and mostly forgettable platforming sections. The solo campaign is not at all the ideal way to play, and is easily skippable.
Biped has been rated E for Everyone. There’s no violence or danger whatsoever. Bots fall off ledges and instantly poof back. The physics-based 3D controls can very difficult to grasp for younger gamers, however.
I like the idea of a physics-based co-op platformer, but Biped’s cute charm hides some insidiously difficult puzzles. The variety in tasks, from rushing down rivers to controlling pachinko machines can be fun, but the testy leg-controls make many puzzles far harder than they should be, preventing Biped from a confident family-friendly recommendation.