Ever since Crypt of the Necrodancer revealed the joy of taking the dark fantasy dungeon-crawler game formula and replacing the combat with dancing, I have been waiting for a developer to come along and do the same with the Western genre.
Ok, maybe that isn't exactly true, but it doesn't make this upcoming Steam Greenlight project any less appealing.
Beatstep Cowboys presents us with the relatively familiar scenario of two cowboys ready to duel over money, land, pride or the fact that things could get pretty boring when you had no internet. The twist here is that each player has four beats to enter a series of movement and attack commands that will dictate the action that follows. This leads to a series of chaotic scenarios that sees both players trying to maneuver themselves into an optimal attack position while attempting to account for the potential movement of their opponents. That combination of self-preservation and needing to put yourself in harm's way in order to get a clean shot on your opponent is hectic enough, even before you account for the ability to place bombs throughout the map that help turn each level into a dancefloor warzone.
The gameplay feels like a mix between Nidhogg, Bomberman and Crypt of the Necrodancer which...well it just sounds like the best thing ever. That being said, the demo makes it clear that a little work is still required to get this game where it needs to be. Being able to see the opponent's commands does take a little mystery out of the combat, while the rapid beat timeframe often makes winning a duel feel like a matter of simple luck. Still, the foundations for a great couch multiplayer game are certainly in place even this early into the game's development, and elements to come such as the ability for Twitch channels to duel against each other have real potential.
Though no release window for an Early Access build is currently available, you can check out Beatstep Cowboy's demo here.