Just Shapes & Beats: Hardcore Edition Hammers the PS4 With New Modes and Music

Art is hard, but the basics are much easier to grasp than you’d think.  One of the great teachers is Ed Emberly, whose series of books taught young children that even the most ornate creations could be broken down into a series of simple shapes.  Just Shapes and Beats is what would happen if Ed Emberly teamed up with a huge collection of deeply talented EDM and chiptune artists to make a bullet-hell dodge-em-up that’s as visually creative as it is sonically awesome.

The game was released on Switch and PC last year but that was just the start.  Now the assault in pink and black is coming to PS4 on May 10, complete with Story and Challenge modes and introducing a brutal new difficulty level in the form of Hardcore.  While the Story mode in Just Shapes & Beats: Hardcore Edition is the same wonderfully crazed tour of the soundtrack it’s always been, the multiplayer Challenge modes now have an option to put your co-op survival skills to the test, dodging intense new patterns as best you can while rescuing and being rescued by the other players.  The object is simply to survive to the end of the song, which sounds simple in theory until the screen fills with more shapes than it could reasonably be expected to hold, all of which pulse and dance to the beat as up to four players scramble to find a safe spot.  Dashing gives a moment of invincibility and covers a nice bit of ground but you’ve got to stop somewhere, and when the screen starts filling up with patterns you’ll need to be very familiar with its distance and duration to land in a safe spot.

Nice as the old version of Just Shapes & Beats is, and with the new Hardcore mode doubling the level patterns in each of the 35 songs, is that really enough to justify an all-new title for the game? Turns out that’s a big Nope!, so the track list is (-Update-) more than doubling as well with about 39-ish (it’s not a precise science) new tunes being added, getting enhanced, but not that enhanced.  New songs are coming, complete with Normal and Hardcore modes for each.  All this content is exclusive to PS4 for a limited time, but with a bit of patience of unspecified duration the new music and difficulty will be coming to both Switch and PC in the form of a free update as well.  The game may live up to its title of being just shapes and beats but there’s a ton of each to explore in a huge parade of audio and visual creativity.  EDM DJ Ed Emberly would be proud.