If you’ve been around the gaming scene for a while, you’ve probably heard of a thing called “procedural generation.” it’s the type of randomization used to generate your Minecraft worlds, and studio Floppy Club has used this same kind of technology to make a game about music.
The game featured in this Rytmos review, is an indie game I’ve had somewhere on my radar since October of last year when it got shown off, and I was impressed by the concept. Something about music that varied entirely based on your input was appealing, so I checked it out. The only thing I saw wrong up-front is that it’s called Rytmos and not Rythmos; a missed opportunity.
Bottom Line Up-Front
Rytmos is a fun puzzle game that happens to play the music you incidentally create by playing the game. Unfortunately, it’s held back by a few flaws: the music inherently feels a little random and uninteresting. It’s also surprisingly short, only about 3 hours at best.
Square Waves and Square Shapes
The visuals of Rytmos are simple and elegant, and they usually work well. Everything is done with flat colors, basic shapes, and a nice-looking color palette. Everything has this pastel look that can perfectly convey information while being nice to look at.
Much of the visuals might be on the verge of a little too simple for some, but I think, as shown by the final world, Hyperstition, too much detail gets distracting and makes things messy. On the other hand, every system before this one has a clean and splendid look, with this one being the outlier, so the lesson here is ‘less is more.’
Drawing The Line
The gameplay in Rytmos is, I’d say, about 40% of the reason you’d want to buy it, with the other 60% just being to experience the sounds. It mostly plays it straight as a puzzle game, having sound emitters you can hit with your line.
You can’t go back on your line but can cross it in another direction. This makes for a simple, enjoyable puzzle game that tests your knowledge and skill. However, I experienced several stretches where I felt stumped trying to get every emitter.
That is one of the issues, though; the emitters are the only satisfying goal in Rytmos. The game becomes completely trivial if you don’t care about hitting all of them. Unfortunately, I kept accidentally hitting the goal after not getting every emitter because it was easy to do the puzzles normally.
Overall, the game is fun, each new mechanic gave me a new thing to think about, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with most of it. I have only a few gripes, namely the fact that the challenges on each planet are in random order.
This randomization usually only leads to an unsatisfying end to a planet, or an overly complex beginning, making me question why these challenges aren’t just given in a set order.
Rhythm in Rytmos
The defining quality of the game and the reason most people would buy it is the music. So right away, I can say that I was thoroughly impressed by the range of sounds presented in this game.
From synth to 8-bit music to Hawaiian and Ethiopian jazz, this game combines various instruments and styles to assemble a well-rounded package. I especially appreciate System Sato’s Japanese environmental music.
The only significant issue with all of this is inherent with the concept of procedurally generated music in the first place; it doesn’t do anything outstanding with the compositions themselves since they’re made based on your input.
While I enjoyed listening to the vast majority of songs I created while playing, none of them are things I’d put on my phone or even be interested in listening to outside the game. The concept is cool, but my interest and engagement with the songs waned quickly.
The Empty Space Between: Rest for 8 Measures
Perhaps the most prominent thing I was thinking about during my time with Rytmos was what it lacked. There was an immediate lack of settings when I booted up the game, no Borderless Windowed setting, no accessibility options, and no hints system or anything for those who get stuck.
There was no story in Rytmos, though there are some neat animations; nothing implies any plot, not even a basic premise like being an astronaut who has to restore destroyed planets with music. Having no driving force behind a game kind of lowers my want to complete it.
There was no real sense of progression in this game; each planet just felt like a different genre of music and another type of puzzle; I aced the puzzle that was supposed to test me on every single mechanic in the game on my first try, which says it all. Unfortunately, this game is not challenging overall, and there’s no option to up the ante.
Rewinding and Replaying
Even with 100% completion, consistently hitting every emitter, the game only lasted me two and a half hours. Which is a pretty short runtime for the $15 this game is priced at on Steam. There are a few solar systems, each with a few planets; after you’re done with those, the game just ends.
After beating all the levels you were given, there isn’t much to do. I would have liked a level creator or a free-play mode where I could play whatever instruments I wanted with whatever backing I liked. Instead, you can only look back at your created albums or replay the levels. Even if you enjoy doing those, it will only take a few minutes at most.
Alternatives to Rytmos
If you want something similar to Rytmos, there isn’t much to be offered yet; procedurally generated music is pretty new.
- Please Fix The Road is another indie puzzler with a laid-back and chill aesthetic, but it doesn’t have the cool music technology of Rytmos.
- Melatonin is like rhythm heaven but super relaxed. It’s more of a rhythm game, but this might be for you.
- Music95 and Audiosurf both procedurally generate levels based on the music you give them; if you want to play a game to your favorite songs, go for them.
- Sound Shapes for the vita describes itself as equal parts music, art, and 2D platformer. While the level creator may be offline, this game should still be on any music enthusiast’s radar.
I enjoyed my time with Rytmos, but the short runtime and lack of content that allows players to return to the game mean I can’t give it anything more than a 7.5. It feels more like a super polished tech demo than a complete game, and I can’t say you should spend $15 on it. But at least you can try to play Megalovania in it.
- Very fun and easy to pick up and learn.
- Procedurally generated music is a novel concept.
- Playing music along with the backing you created feels lovely to do.
- The game is super short, at just under 3 hours.
- The $15 price tag is steep for a game that lacks content.
- There is almost no replay value.
Questions and Answers
Question: What is Rytmos?
Answer: Rytmos is a puzzle game where the puzzles you solve create music by adding layers of sound.
Question: What Platforms is Rytmos on?
Answer: PC and Nintendo Switch, but it works excellently on Steam Deck.
Question: Is Rytmos a Rhythm Game?
Answer: No, it’s a puzzle game where the puzzles create music.
I played this game from start to finish through Steam on PC, which took only 2.5 hours. I 100% the game, getting every emitter on every planet. Not a single stone was left unturned, and every bit of content was thoroughly enjoyed.