Beat Hazard is a twin-stick shooter. You control a space-ship in a fixed square region of space, and shoot down asteroids and enemy crafts.
Beat Hazard contains a ridiculous amount of lighting effects. It's almost like the developers decided to put lights within the lights, then gave those lights some lights! You fire a large amount of lasers, enemies explode into hundreds of particles, then other objects like stars in the background just add to the clutter; even the pickups flash bright. It definitely needs the seizure warning. You can reduce the effects to 50%, but you can also increase it too. The 50% setting was playable, but still felt a bit too cluttered and flashy for my liking.
The levels are generated by the music, although it seemed quite loosely linked. Quiet moments add zero or limited enemies, and your guns become underpowered. More frantic moments generate more enemies. The reason why I say loosely linked is that there may be three loud drum beats in a row, yet only 2 waves of enemies come in; so there seems a disconnect there.
After I played all the stock music, which is mainly electronic with a few types of rock music, I then experimented with my own selections. The electronic music I chose seemed to generate easier levels without any boss fights; whereas the stock music had 1 or often 2 boss fights. I then chose some extreme metal with lots of double bass drum and thunderous blast beats. Although it seemed to throw more enemies at me overall, there were many moments where not much was going on yet the music was still maintaining the intensity.
It's almost like the game is trying to average out the enemies across the level, rather than matching the intensity of the particular moment of the song. But then that seems rather pointless when the game is trying to sell itself based on the music.
There are only a few bosses in the game, so you will be seeing the same bosses many times, sometimes multiple times in the same level.
Most enemies don't fire, but the challenge is to dodge them. When they do fire, it can be hard to see the bullets/lasers with all the carnage on the screen, leading to cheap deaths. When they fire, you do hear a sound effect which gives you warning that there is something to dodge which I really appreciated.
When you destroy enemies, they may drop cash, multipliers, volume increase pickups. These only stay on screen for several seconds, so you always have to be moving towards them to collect them. You level up with your points which allows you to choose an unlockable perk. Once unlocked you then need to purchase it with the money you acquire in the levels.
As you equip these perks, the game gets easier and your score increases more. You get extra weapons like mini homing missiles, a laser beam, a screen-clearing bomb, and a shield. Other perks increase the amount of starting pickups, the frequency of pickups within the level, and extra scoring boosts.
This system seems silly to me, because with this type of game, much of the replay value comes from returning to beat your previous scores. Since the game is giving you more powers and score boosts, then it becomes guaranteed that you will beat your previous score when you return.
I did have fun with Beat Hazard, because it is fun shooting things. However, the main selling point of levels which are generated by your music; doesn't really work. The cluttered screen with intense lighting doesn't really work. The scoring system doesn't work.