The developers at Drool recently announced they were bringing their “rhythm violence” game, Thumper, to Xbox One and Nintendo Switch following a successful launch on PlayStation 4 and PC last year. This news was the perfect excuse to go back and finish what we started in October, which, while tardy, did lead us to encounter a number of new features introduced through excellent (and free) post-launch support.
You guide a hurtling metallic beetle around a linear track suspended in neon nothingness.
Thumper becomes seriously challenging with the introduction of new note types, lane hopping and frequent breakneck corners in its latter half - especially if you’re looking to land S Ranks for the accompanying achievements/trophies - but frequent checkpoints mean you’ll never lose a great deal of progress. The level of difficulty definitely helps drive engagement, but, as it can’t be tweaked, there’s a very real possibility you might not be able to complete the game if you tend to struggle with rhythm games at higher difficulty settings.
As ever, practice makes perfect, and it’s in persistence that you’ll find yourself achieving flow and losing hours in what feels like the blink of an eye. There’s a Rez-like sense of synaesthesia that drags you into the illusive “zone” as your actions produce the addictive audio track, which, in turn, helps dictate your actions. This beat encourages a thrilling game of chicken that, should you choose to risk leaving actions until the last executable moment, offers rewards both aural and tangible (the latter by dishing out more points).
When it’s so easy to play for long sessions, you’d be forgiven for approaching the VR mode with a degree of trepidation as some are subject to discomfort as a direct result. We didn’t experience any problems on that front, in fact, thumb-ache set in first. With no comfort downsides, sticking a headset on is the best way to play in our minds. The 3D display helps with depth perception to make your timings naturally more accurate, while endlessly sprawling stages and giant bosses inspire a sense of awe that’s lacking on the flat display of a TV screen.
There’s a Rez-like sense of synaesthesia that drags you into the illusive “zone” as your actions produce the addictive audio track.
Whichever way you experience it, Thumper plays like an absolute dream, boasting striking visual and audio design all the while. It's demanding level of challenge will keep you coming back, never failing to recapture that euphoric zen-state you can’t help but linger in. Throw in excellent post-launch support that ironed out issues we had with the original release, as well as introducing some very significant upgrades, and Thumper is an easy recommendation for fans of VR and the rhythm genre alike.