I’ve never been a fan of rhythm games, maybe because I lack the musical skill necessary to do well in them and without that there is no point to play that game type. That all changed when I got the chance to demo Soundfall at the PAX Rising booth during PAX West 2018. Soundfall is an action/adventure rhythm dungeon crawler from Drastic Games, a company founded by alumni of Epic Games. The game itself is built on Unreal Engine 4, which is perfect for a studio like Drastic Games that is focused on pushing the bounds of small team, indie, development.
The game utilizes sound for every mechanic of the game and the sounds you must move to, shoot to, and dance to will eventually encompass a multitude of genres, although EDM was the only genre for play during the demo at PAX West – an obvious choice for the fast-paced nature of a convention floor. As a dungeon crawler, the game follows Melody, the game’s protagonist as she travels through the world of Symphonia in search of a way to return home and leave this world where music comes to life. As we progress through the game and fight through dungeons we fight Discord, a darkness moving through the world and threatening everything in its way.
The game itself is procedurally generated, levels, loot, and enemies dynamically react to the music around them. This element of a completely reactive environment is different than other rhythm games that only map pieces of their games to the beat. The dynamic gameplay rewards players who hack and slash, shoot, and dash to the beat of the music and stalls out those who consistently find themselves tapping their foot to the beat of the wrong drum.
Although I usually find the latter annoying in my games, the world of Soundfall is beautifully designed and one where the multiple mechanics mapped to the beat make it for dynamic play in the same way puzzles are. Do I dash? Do I shoot? Do I melee? Finding out how to move through the world and the dungeons have a slight learning curve for the beat challenged but the pay off is there once you get over the curve it’s all exploration, hunting for gear, and fun from there. Using the center bar to track the beat anyone can play this game and pick it up, even if you’re like me.
The game is also multiplayer and will host a roster of diverse playable characters with different backgrounds, a move the studio took when they realized how powerful music is, “Music connects people in ways that are difficult to articulate. It’s been an incredible pleasure working with such an emotionally engaging medium,” said content director Julian Trutmann in the game’s press release.
After speaking with Trutmann at Drastic Games’ booth in the PAX Rising area, his passion for the game was clear, and his the teams vision of using music to explore important messages like the importance of diversity was apparent and his passion was apparent from the moment he put me on the game station to the moment he shook my hand good-bye.
If you’re looking for a game to begin a rhythmic journey with beautiful artwork, engaging mechanics, and immersive sound, look no further than Soundfall. It will be playable later this year at both EGX 2018 and PAX Australia 2018 later this year. The game is set to release in 2019 on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and the Nintendo Switch. To keep tabs on developments with this 4-player and solo musical experience follow the Soundfall team on Twitter.