There is something inherently awesome about playing a rhythm game and nailing every single beat. The game is designed to reward you with beautiful tones of music and mastering the game – especially with a friend – creates a significant bond of accomplishment. So what about taking that same feeling of being a badass musician and applying it to a twin-stick shooter? It sounds like a difficult task, but indie developer Drastic Games has put together these two genres into a fast-paced and heart thumping title in the form of Soundfall, which they were finally able to showcase this year at PAX West.
On the surface, Soundfall is a twin-stick shooter that ranges from one to four players with your typical dash, ranged attack, and melee attack. How the team incorporated the rhythm game mechanics, however, is both simple and brilliant. Each stage has a particular style of music: electronic, rock, anything with a solid bassline. On the bottom of the screen sits a metronome with marks striking it similar to the DDR franchise. Each action you take: a dash, an attack, a strike, if it is timed along with the metronome will do extra damage or be extra effective. The pulsing music and necessity of the bonus attacks pulls you even further into the immersion of the game as well executed tactics make all the difference.
This also makes it a natural home for the twin-stick shooter as the controls are simple and the camera angle gives you plenty of room to work with, leaving you to focus instead on the music. It’s a game definitely best played with headphones unless your friends happen to be over. Soundfall is set to feature an overarching narrative with a team of playable characters, although only one – Melody – was available at the demo. It took until the second of three stages for me to get the hang of it and once I did I was pulled into that world more intensely as each shot boomed in time with the music and you could feel the rhythm pulse in your chest.
Gameplay wise the controls were just as solid as you would expect from a team with experience in Gears of War, Fortnite, Paragon, and Unreal Tournament: it was tight, effective, and worked beautifully with the style. The music, of course, is the key component, and Drastic Games is looking to local artists and big name artists to use their music with the potential of having music-generated stages for gamers to explore. This adds tons of potential for post-game content similar to Rock Band or Guitar Hero adding track lists, but instead, Soundfall can offer artist-specific stages created for the game.
It was a demo I didn’t want to stop playing but I would have pushed my luck if I hadn’t put the controller down after completing every available stage. Drastic Games is passionate about this project and they should be: it has the potential to be a huge success once it launches on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in 2019. What are your thoughts on this new style of hybrid game? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or the Comments section below. For more information on Soundfall, check out the game’s official website.
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Soundfall Is a Twin Stick Rhythm Game I Didn’t Want to Stop Playing