At the intersection of music and gaming is a budding genre of rhythm-action games like Crypt of the NecroDancer or BPM: Bullets Per Minute, tying sound to player actions as a unique approach to game mechanics. Soundfall, developed by Drastic Games, is an ambitious twist on the rhythm game genre, featuring a looter-shooter premise akin to Diablo. While Soundfall nicely delivers on its promise of exciting, toe-tapping rhythm-action gameplay, it’s a mechanic that quickly becomes stagnant, and the game’s looter-shooter mechanics struggle to pick up the pieces.
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Soundfall opens with a largely forgettable storyline based around the main character, Melody, who finds herself whisked away from the real world and into the lands of Symphonia, the source of all music. A once struggling barista with unrealized musical talent, Melody now takes on the mantle of one of five Guardians of Harmony, each with a distinct musical aesthetic. Through the utilization of their musical skillsets, Melody and her friends must save Symphonia from the Discordians who threaten to destroy the world’s music. Soundfall’s main questline will take players through a varied collection of biomes, all featuring a broad range of music genres that will satiate a wide audience of music listeners.
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While cheery and upbeat, Soundfall’s story is a straightforward premise that is never particularly engaging. At each level’s conclusion, Soundfall splices in kitschy dialogue sequences that, while demonstrating the developer’s love for music thanks to various pop culture references, fail to invest players in the world of Symphonia and its characters. Players should not come to Soundfall for the story, as it does feel like an afterthought and can be bypassed entirely with the game’s Free Play mode. Where Soundfall truly sings is in its visual style and fun rhythm-based mechanics.