Anyone who’s ever tried to write a short story knows how hard it can be to conjure up an original plot. Rather than modify a classic trope or reinvent the wheel, Beyond Dimensions gives you dozens of different (and incompatible) narrative premises, ranging from ridiculous to creepy. These cheeky (and skippable, if you prefer) introductions perfectly set the mood for the rampant magical cacophony that you are about to enter.
Whatever the premise, you play as a fledgling wizard travelling between several hostile dimensions to harness magical energy and bring it back to your own world. Being a twin-stick shooter, this roughly translates as “destroy everything, and loot what remains”. While the action can get frantic very quickly, there’s enough breathing room between enemy clusters to allow you to prepare and position yourself for best effect.
For each run you are given three randomly chosen spells that will determine what approach you should take. Attack spells aren’t hugely varied, each having similar range and ability to hit multiple enemies at once. The devil is in the details, however; lightning has the best reach and high damage potential, but you have to keep it precisely on target for the best results (a tricky task when things get hectic). Invisibility is fairly useless at first due to its high mana cost and reduced movement speed, but when used correctly it can be just what you need to shepherd enemies into a trap.
As you kill enemies, some will drop power-ups for your spells, increasing their damage, duration, mana efficiency, and so on. Some spells are a little overpowered, however, especially when upgraded. Boost in particular gives you the advantage of adding bonus powerups to both of your other equipped spells, and the number of these increases with every regular powerup that Boost gets. This unbalances the game a little, since as long as you have Boost and a good attack spell, there won’t be much that can stand in your way.
Beyond Dimensions has enough goals and unlockables to keep you busy for at least a few hours. Once you’ve used a particular spell enough time, you can choose it when starting a new run rather than the default random selection. This helps you fine-tune your approach when going for some of the tougher challenges, like dealing a certain amount of melee damage in a single run.
The default spell loadout is Balanced, with one of each spell type across your three slots. You can, however, unlock different loadouts to suit your particular play style. Attacker gives you two attacking spells but none of the others, allowing you to practically urinate destruction in any direction. Tactician sacrifices a defensive spell for a second support one, which really helps if you just want passive support while you focus on killing things.
Beyond Dimensions isn’t a very long game, with a full run lasting maybe an hour. The first three levels are distinct from one another in design, enemy type and difficulty. The third level in particular pits you against extremely posh dinosaurs that can wield the same spells as you. However, the fourth and final level is slightly disappointing, merely being a neon mashup of the previous three. While it is kind of fun to face off against all enemy types at once, the greater issue is that if you’ve survived to the fourth level, you’re pretty much an unstoppable tide of magic, especially against the returning first and second level’s enemies. As a result, the final boss fight (consisting of each level’s boss attacking you together) is over in seconds.
While Beyond Dimensions doesn’t revolutionise the twin-stick shooter genre, it isn’t necessarily trying to. What it is trying to do is give you an instant jolt of explosive fun with enough strategy and tactics involved that you can’t just play on autopilot (at least for the first three levels). And what other game has you being chased down streets lined with red telephone boxes by a T-rex in a top hat and monocle hurling lightning bolts at your head?
Short but sweet
Simple in all the right ways, Beyond Dimensions offers just enough to keep you coming back now and then to casually lay waste to alien worlds.