Review: Rhythm Destruction attempts to blur the line between rhythm game and shmup
The life of a designer can be a tough one, especially indie creators who just want the public to enjoy their craft, but may not have the means to fully flesh out their ideas, let alone get the word out. Thankfully for the two-man team over at Curious Panda, Kickstarter allowed their brainchild Rhythm Destruction to come to life with the help of fans curious enough to see what a rhythm shoot-em-up game actually plays like.
Turns out it’s a chaotic yet synced mix of electronic dance music and space.
Rhythm Destruction has a simple objective: make it to the end of a level while avoiding enemy obstacles. You use the WASD keys to move the spaceship around (though it does support an Xbox 360 gamepad) while simultaneously tapping the correct directional buttons to destroy enemy ships. A circle forms around certain enemies, and within these circles are the button prompts you have to press in sync with the music to blast away a foe. Fail to destroy these ships, as I often did, and you’re left with an additional hindrance obstructing your way. The closer you are to pressing the directional buttons to the beat, the more “phenomenal!” grades and points you receive. In fact, the closer you are to an enemy when you destroy them, the more bonus points you accumulate (imagine a dart board, but “in spaaaaace!”).
Dedicated fans of rhythm dance games will appreciate Rhythm Destruction’s homage to the genre. Choosing what stage to play works the same way song selections do in all the popular dance games (Dance Dance Revolution, StepMania) with a screen detailing the title of the track, artist, length, notes, your highest score, difficulty (which there are currently four of), success rate, etc. There are even song-specific goals you can complete to boost your score.
The mechanics are easy to grasp but not as simple to master, since the player’s attention has to be on two different movements: dodging and syncing. Flash Flash Revolution players (essentially DDR for your fingers) should have no troubles with Rhythm Destruction since its not as fast-paced. It can be pretty disorganized at first, but all it takes is practice and actually listening to the music. However, you won’t always be tasked to dodge and sync your button presses thanks to portions called hyper sections.
Hyper sections are moments when the game shifts to a retro visual design where you’re only tasked with moving your ship in the indicated directions. The game claims these are the more difficult patterns to master, but it’s actually easier to play these sections when all you have to concentrate on is one button press at a time.
The truly hardest segment comes in the form of boss battles. Towards the end of any level, a large ship stands in your way shooting lasers, missiles, and bombs, and sometimes even summons some of his brethren. Just like before, you have to sync your attacks while dodging projectiles in every direction. Be prepared to lose a lot of your lives during these parts.
A large portion of the talked about gameplay is rhythm game oriented, so how about those shoot-em-up traits? Well, there isn’t much of that. Unlike actual shoot-em-ups’s like Geometry Wars, and despite the creators’ claims that the game is an even combination, the only resemblance to shoot-em-up’s here is the maneuvering of your ship and during boss battles when your ship automatically fires missiles to kill the craft faster.
If you miss a button prompt, you can’t shoot an enemy with your own missiles. Most of the game is actually just avoiding obstacles, which is understandable given the rhythm game challenge portion, but it hurts its “shmup” claims. Further in the absent department is sound design, as the only sounds heard in the game is the EDM soundtrack; nothing is heard when ships explode or when shots are fired, so you often feel you’re playing a muted game with iTunes in the background. That said, the ten available techno tracks are enjoyable, though not all stand out on their own. Still, DDR and even DJMax fans will definitely vibe with this mix of songs, though it is missing its share of Japanese and KPOP to really feel at home.
Rhythm Destruction proved to be an interesting and entertaining experience, but unfortunately it seems to lack the addictive qualities most rhythm games instill. There’s also not much multiplayer besides leaderboards and challenges, though that’s more due to lack of funds. Even so electronic dance lovers, rhythm dance game enthusiasts, and those fascinated by genre mash-ups should definitely give Rhythm Destruction a chance.