We like to think we have a good knowledge of rhythm for the most part. Despite our complete incompetence at playing any musical instrument, we’ve always been drawn to musical games like Soundfall. Without blowing our own horn, we’ve often assumed that thanks to hundreds of hours of jamming out to Guitar Hero and Rock Band titles, we’re really decent at a number of rhythm games. At least, that was the case until we tried BPM: Bullets Per Minute and were completely obliterated by the game’s hardcore roguelike rhythm. We weren’t sure how we’d perform in Drastic Games’ new dungeon-crawling, looter-shooter rhythm game Soundfall until we had the chance to play it.
Fortunately, our fears were unfounded, for after spending a few hours checking out what Soundfall has to offer, we can confidently state that it is building out to be an interesting and entertaining video game, even for the rhythmically impaired.
Set in the vivid realm of Symphonia, a land defined by music and rhythm, the goal of Soundfall is to progress through several levels while eliminating the destructive forces of Discord that threaten the world, all while keeping time to a beat. Every shot you fire, every dash move, every sword slice, and every ability used must be timed to the underlying beat of each level’s musical track. It’s a game that on the surface sounds like quite the task to master, and while it isn’t intrinsically easy, it’s considerably more straightforward and simplistic to pick up than BPM is, thanks to the choice of music that includes a clearly recognizable beat that you can both connect to and even groove out to.
While it is critical to time every action you take (besides sprinting around) to the beat, Soundfall does allow you to play the game even if you miss a beat. The only difference is that the action will be significantly less effective – for example, off-beat gunfire will cause half the damage as on-beat gunshots. You can get a sense of how the main rhythm mechanics are implemented and used in-game if you keep this in mind.
In terms of gameplay, Soundfall is an isometric game in which you are essentially looking down on your character. The goal is to proceed through linear levels as quickly as possible, clearing rooms/sections of monsters and completing the level as quickly as possible. You’ll earn extra experience for your account based on how quickly you finish a level, your proportion of on-time actions, and even how little damage you suffer, with various medals awarded based on these aspects. In a traditional looter-shooter fashion, new weapons and armor will be granted in a chest at the conclusion of each level, as well as the occasional drop from vanquished enemies, all to boost your lethality and effectiveness in battle with greater damage and resistance statistics.
Soundfall is highly looter-shooter in this regard, yet without the subgenre’s nature being pushed down your throat, since new loot is regular but not overwhelmingly frequent. Similarly, the gear modification system is complex, yet it never feels like you need a statistics degree to fully comprehend and design a powerful and enjoyable character. It’s a highly streamlined and simple set of concepts that work together to elevate and accommodate the basic gameplay, which is polished and exciting to learn and master, in our opinion.
This assessment is based on the fact that we were able to explore the initial world of Soundfall, a realm in which we were able to play as one of the five protagonists (also known as Guardians of Harmony) and wield a variety of weapon archetypes while facing a variety of unique enemy kinds. Despite its restricted appearance, Soundfall appears to be an outstanding game, one that holds even more promise because of the several other elements we learned about during a preview session with the developers.
Each of Soundfall’s five characters will have their own playstyle, weapon, and unique powers, with each character being unlocked as you go through the game’s five worlds. Similarly, boss bouts involving senior members of the Discord army will be included in the gameplay, with each encounter requiring players to overcome distinct elements. There will also be more Horde missions (one of which we got to play), so if you enjoy being completely swamped by foes and projectiles on-screen, Soundfall will be just up your alley.
Other than that, Drastic Games announced that Soundfall will be supported with free updates after launch, will feature 2-4 online and local cooperative play that scales the difficulty and number of enemies you face depending on how many people are in your party, and will see more musical tracks added down the line thanks to the ingenious importation system that allows players to bring music from their own music libraries into Soundfall, with the game analyzing the track and creating new ones, and will see more musical tracks added down the line thanks to the ingenious import.