Ever since Guitar Hero released, rhythm games have been my forte. Twisting and contorting my hands in ways that I never thought they could, eyes watering for concentrating so long for fear of breaking my note streak. So when I heard that a new rhythm game was coming out, I was excited.
The main purpose of Thumper is to navigate a beetle along a single track through a concoction of amazing worlds. You need to press a button to hit "notes" on the track in conjunction with the music, turning against curved walls, bracing against obstacles, defeating enemies and flying over sets of spikes. The camera sits just behind the beetle, which gives you a great sense of speed, especially as you head into the later levels.
Speaking of levels, each level is divided into segments. After each segment, you're given a a rating of how well you've done and a score. You can usually take one hit (Crashing into an obstacle or missing a turn), you can however, earn your shield back if you lose it. However, sustaining a second hit without this shield in place kill it, forcing you back to the last checkpoint. There is no penalty for this, and you can repeat the segment as many times as you need.
It really is an unmatched rhythm experience. Its combination of intuitive and simple controls, excellent auditory and visual feedback and a compelling depth in movement break new ground in the rhythm genre. It is, however, a difficult game to master on its own, and a general understanding of rhythm is usually what is required to finish the later levels.
Although this seems to be discouraging, it's not. Stages are divided in such a way that improving and practicing is as easy as playing them over and over. Although most rhythm games work this way, Thumper is unique in the sense in that it commands you to memorize short rhythm arrangements that evolve into more complicated patterns, opposed to whole songs.
This means that the process of learning each level very enjoyable and streamlines because you start to develop a feel for a set of rhythms and don't have to remember entire songs.
In VR, the game's visuals are nothing short of amazing, and this really should be the way to play it. In VR, it gives you a better depth of perception, and you can actually see the notes and walls coming a lot easier than without VR.
Although it will most likely be frustrating and difficult for those people who are not used to challenging and grind-intensive gameplay, Thumper is an essential rhythm game for anyone wanting an amazing VR experience, or a unique take on the rhythm genre.