History’s coughed up plenty of weird video game genre mash-ups, but we’re pretty sure that ‘rhythm-action stealth puzzler’ is a first.
As unlikely a mix as it is, Beat Sneak Bandit’s grab bag of inspirations works a treat. It’s developer Simogo Games’s third iOS outing, following in the charming if shallow footsteps of Bumpy Road and Kosmo Spin.
Beat Sneak Bandit has all the creative spark and heart of those earlier titles, and it’s easily Simogo’s most satisfying game yet, delivering hugely entertaining gameplay alongside its high-concept flair and irresistible style.
Duke Clockface has stolen all the clocks in the world, and it’s up to you to get them all back.
Successfully tap the screen on the beat and you take a step forward - miss and you stall, leaving you wide open to all manner of hazards in the Duke’s mysterious mansion.
At first glance, it’s Beat Sneak Bandit’s musical element that takes centre stage, with each level pulsing and twitching along to the insidiously catchy soundtrack.
With wandering guards, flickering searchlights, and sliding trapdoors all waiting to catch you unawares, nailing the beat is vital if you’re going to make it through the generous helping of labyrinthine single-screen stages undetected.
Think first, sneak later
While beat-matching is the glue that holds Beat Sneak Bandit together, it’s the underlying puzzling that truly makes the game shine.
As you're restricted to forward movement, navigating each stage requires you to bump into walls to send your little sneak avatar snooping in the opposite direction.
That means success isn’t just a matter of avoiding detection - careful surveillance of each stage’s layout and some strategic planning are almost always essential, particularly if you want to grab all four bonus clocks deviously placed around each level.
And that’s a worthwhile endeavor, too, with clocks you accrue unlocking tougher bonus stages with trickier beats to test your mettle.
Not that Beat Sneak Bandit’s a walk in the park in the first place. It’s a game that requires thought, observation, and timing from the off, with each newly introduced obstacle cleverly demanding entirely new strategies to circumvent - all while insisting you keep to the ever-present beat.
In fact, if there’s any complaint to make, it’s that the game’s relentless forward-march pace makes it a little too easy to fluff your carefully-laid plans with an ill-timed lurch. That can be wearying when you’re forced to restart midway along the often circuitous routes that you need to take to collect every clock.
That’s really a minor moan, though. Beat Sneak Bandit’s captivating, compulsive mix of lateral thinking and rhythmic twitching offers a charming and thoroughly unique genre-blend. In terms of both design and feel, it hits every beat.