America - Front
America - Back
20th Feb 2018 | 1,216 views
~ Played on PS4 VR, but reviewing it for Switch since it's the only version that exists here. You can blame lazy VGC users (such as myself) for that! (edit: I have played the Switch version since, though)~
I don't think I ever expected to call this one of the best games I've played, but it's certainly one that instantly caught my eye. I never actually heard about it prior to release, so when I randomly saw someone playing this at an event, it was very intriguing. I wanted to try it out as soon as possible, and eventually I did, but it was only years after that I would get the chance to go all the way and beat the game.
And, yeah, it was worth it. Thumper is one of those games where there's nothing out there quite like it, and as such it's really hard to describe exactly how or why it's so good, though it is quite easy to understand when you've played it. Of course the closest definition would be that it's a rhythm game, but it incorporates enough elements from different genres for it to become something unique that isn't just down to following the beat of the music. In fact, it's hard to even call it 'music', because the sound design here is mostly just focused on rhythm and tempo, and it is used in ways that are more interactive, such as bosses or obstacles that require specific actions to be defeated. It's a sort of nirvana-like experience, but it's one that would have never quite taken off if it played it safe.
Which thankfully, it didn't. This game has a serious difficulty curve, and many players have been put off by it, but it is because of this that it begins to truly shine. In later levels, it's amazing just how much faster the music gets and how much more it asks of you, how it almost forces you to use skills you thought were optional, because it's so challenging you'll need them - and it's here that it becomes a very engaging experience, when it demands absolute concentration (and consequently, immersion) from the player, as you slowly get better at understanding and executing the very nuanced techniques the game seamlessly taught you earlier. Ultimately, my biggest surprise was going back and watching videos of the final levels, and being left in complete disbelief by just how fast and impossible they looked, because it was always a doable challenge when I had the controller.
If anything, the only complaint I can have with this game is the "Play+" mode, an extra challenge added later via a free update. It is a genuine attempt at making the game more difficult for those who want it, but it falls flat when it sends you back to the beginning everytime you die - since each level in the game can last for over 20 or 30 minutes, this is very frustrating. Of course, in a way this forces you to really master the stomp mechanic, as that's your only means of recovering shields here, but having no checkpoints at all is still a bit too extreme.
I've not much else to say. It's one of those experiences you'll only understand by playing, and though it might not be for everyone, my time with it left me in constant awe.
(converted to 9.3 out of 10)