There’s an immediate appeal to Terrorhythm’s beautifully stylised visuals and pulsing electronic soundtrack; it’s intoxicating. Feeling like a hybrid of the beautiful, compelling synaesthesia of Rez and – to me, at least – NES/arcade classic Kung Fu/Kung Fu Master, Terrorhythm eventually hits all the right notes, but there’s a very steep learning curve to get over before that happens.
I’m getting ahead of myself, however. Terrorhythm sees you cast in the role of a rebellious citizen in the 25th century, living in a world in which sound itself is illegal.
The tutorial will be your first stop; this will explain that you’ll need to tap the L and/or R buttons in time with the beat of the music, even when no enemies are approaching your character – who remains in the middle of the screen. When the guardians of the silence move towards you, it’s mostly just a case of maintaining the rhythm, but tapping the correct direction of either L or R in order to attack in the direction the enemies are approaching from. There are added complications, such as enemies with different types of shields – and even weapons that can be collected too.
The biggest problem is that, even after you’ve played through the tutorial and been given a rundown of the basic concepts, you still feel as if you’re thrown in at the deep end when you start the game. The tutorial doesn’t adequately cover all of the concepts in enough detail, in my opinion; given that Terrorhythm is such a unique game, it’s tough to pick up on exactly what it wants from you once you start playing the levels.
Though that’s the case, it’s still undeniably addictive in action. The soundtrack is absolutely superb, and it feels great when you’re hitting the bad guys in perfect sync with the music. I must mention also how great the overall visual design is, with an excellent fusion of Eastern and Western influences both archaic and modern. There’s plenty of stages to unlock and a number of challenging difficulty levels, but your will to continue will depend on how well you acclimatise to the unique mechanics and setting.
With a bit more of a helping hand to get started, Terrorhythm could have been a much more accessible experience. As it is, it’s satisfying and addictive – but only once that steep learning curve has been overcome. The developers should be applauded for creating a gorgeous sensory experience that feels pretty unique, however – and in that respect, it’s a resounding success.
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