Soundodger+ Review

Soundodger+ Featured

Soundodger+ Boxart

Developer: Studio Bean
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Platform: PC – Steam

As a longtime music and rhythm games fan I’ve been continually excited by the increasingly creative titles coming out of the genre. It’s not that I disliked the simple rhythmic button pressing or peripheral eras, but there’s a lot of fun in seeing how developers innovate. Soundodger+ takes the concept of bullet hell shooters and connects it to the soundtrack. This results in an exciting and really tough game.

How exactly does Soundodger+ emulate a shooter? With each song, “bullets” will be released in varying patterns. The player is meant to avoid as many as possible (and obtain 100% if they’re really good). Dodging is the primary mechanic and is aided by a slow down function. If things are getting too tough, you can slow down the song/bullets for as long as you need to make it safely through a part. However, this can damage your score at the end of a level.

Soundodger+ Screenshot 1

There are 23 songs that come with the game and 11 of these are brand new for the Steam launch. Each track has bullets perfectly synced to make them all quite the gameplay experience. Although it may seem that bullets are too fast and random to begin with, further play reveals the many patterns they exhibit. Because the soundtrack is so good, it’s easy to simply be caught up with playing those songs over and over again. However, there is another set of additional features in Soundodger+ worth investigating.

Added into the game is the awesome ability to play your own songs. Players can design their own bullet layouts with their music or simply let the game auto generate something. Of course, the best results come from hard work. Right now there is no easy way to browse other players’ tracks, but the developer is hopeful that Steam Workshop Support will arrive in the future. For now, just hang out in the Steam Community to find users already sharing their creations.

The visual aesthetic is incredibly simple but this works in its favor. If there were too much going on then it would clash with the bullets, making players crash into some by accident. It is suggested to play with mouse and that’s due to the many twitchy movements you’ll likely make trying to dodge stuff at the last moment. You can play with a controller or keyboard, but it might be a bit harder.

Soundodger+ Screenshot 2

So, are there any negatives? Of course, although they’re pretty bearable. The biggest one for me is that the song will momentarily speed up if you run into a bullet. This is helpful because it can push you past a difficult part but throws the rhythm out of whack once it slows back down. Similarly, it really jolts you out of the experience of enjoying the music and patterns. Zen mode allows you to hit enemies with no audible repercussions, but it would be nice to have the option for hits to be less distracting in the main mode as well. Other than that, it’s also a bit annoying that half the soundtrack is locked to start. Most can be unlocked by simply playing as many songs as possible, but to unlock the last few requires a player to be highly skilled.

Soundodger+ is an excellent music game because it combines simple but tough gameplay with a fantastic soundtrack. With musicians such as Austin Wintory, Chelsea Howe, and Disasterpiece contributing, it’s really hard to hate the track list (well, it could do with a little less dubstep). And if you do, there’s still always the option to use your own music! The game manages to tap into the core of what makes music and rhythm games fun and succeeds. If you’re on the fence about the game, try out the free Flash version via Adult Swim Games’ site. That might be enough to satisfy you, but bear in mind that only the Steam release allows for custom music. Soundodger+ is simplistic, and yet, one of the most disarmingly beautiful rhythm games I’ve ever played.

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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