Thumper is a wild ride that is not for the faint hearted. This unique and enigmatic experience revolves around a metallic beetle soaring through a world of pounding beats and psychedelic, yet creepy visuals. The pace is often unrelenting, as you either fly or crash and burn through a variety of levels. Be prepared for a racing heart, high levels of frustration, and an overall hypnotic experience in this unique rhythm trip.
The setting and visual style of Thumper is a mystery all on its own. A creepy, psychedelic, and manic hell is an accurate description as I can come up with. It really is something that needs to be experienced to fully grasp, but even that will leave you befuddled. As you make your way through this abstract world, you regularly encounter bosses of varying shapes and sizes. The particularly chilling ones come in the form of massive and maniacal looking skulls. Thumper has a tremendously vibrant and absorbing graphical style that really makes you want to look inside the minds of the mad scientists that created this wild frenzy.
The sound in Thumper plays a wide reaching and pivotal role. The background music does a phenomenal job of enhancing the frantic tone that is present throughout the game. The music really matches your rhythm as you hurtle through the levels. It is immensely satisfying when you create a chain of beats all of your own as you collide with a fast and furious chain of objects. The sound further adds to the immersiveness of the game through providing audio cues to impending obstacles. Learning these queues and the corresponding response is a significant helping hand. Consequently, this engages your senses and enhances your focus to no end.
The mechanics in Thumper are relatively simple, primarily involving selecting a direction and/or pressing an action button as you go. However, it’s the variety in the obstacles and the unrelenting pace at which they approach that make this game a frantic, yet super fun experience. The constant bombardment on your senses and mashing of controls can get tiresome occasionally, but with such an intense game this is par for the course — just take a break.
The pace of the gameplay, along with corresponding visuals and audio, are really what creates the thrill of Thumper. You won’t find a relaxing gaming experience here, often becoming entranced in a manic frenzy. This focus is what leads you to succeed and really become one with the rhythm of Thumper. You can expect to fail miserably if you become nonchalant.
The game starts off relatively slow, but it’s an understandable tactic, employed in order to give you chance to learn the ropes before the intensity rises. Once Thumper gets going the progression is fairly steady. It introduces several new elements at reasonable intervals then raises the ante with them as they become more familiar. In addition to crashing, flying into and jumping over obstacles, you are required to smash into corners as you glide around them and dodge enemies.
The boss battles are great as well, often requiring you to successfully hit all objectives in order to fire a blast at the mystical being or abstract entity at the end of the track. This leads to the introduction of one of the most satisfying mechanics in any rhythm game, which is the slamming down onto an objective after leaping off the previous one. This, consequently, shoots a beam of light along the track to destroy defenses or damage the boss.
The game does lack any kind of narrative (therefore, we won’t be scoring Thumper on story), but this is not to the detriment of the experience as the gameplay itself is hugely satisfying. The overarching goal of completing each level and destroying the bosses provides enough of a motive to feel fulfilled by your accomplishments in game.
The best moments of Thumper come in the form of feelings familiar to more traditional rhythm games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, but with violent and hysterical twists that this game provides. It’s the thrilling combination of panic and excitement that you get when you face unfathomable odds hurtling towards you. Then, somehow pulling it off by hitting every beat and rhythm. Becoming completely immersed in a trance that’s been crafted from listening, watching and responding with focus and intensity.
Thumper was reviewed on PC with a copy provided by the developer.
Developer: Drool | Publisher: Drool | Genre: RPG | Platform: PC, PS4 | Genre: Action, Indie | PEGI: 7 | Release Date: Oct 10, 2016