In the Indie Megabooth at PAX East this year, there were a ton of games. Only a few constantly had a crowd, and one of them just so happened to be one I had an appointment with. Say hello to Thumper, a rhythm-Hell game for Steam and PlayStation 4/ PlayStation VR. During my appointment, I had the opportunity to play through their demo, which I felt like took 20 minutes to go all the way through it, but I probably could have hit retry at least five more times. So without further adieu, Thumper.
Developed by Drool LLC, comprised of two previous Harmonix employees Brian Gibson and Marc Flury, Thumper is… difficult to explain, in a great way. You control what I can only describe as a metallic beetle who travels down a pathway that has music cues for you to enter button commands on beat. The commands are as simple as hit the X button, hold the X button, and hold the X button while pushing a direction. In the demo, those were the only commands, but as seen in the trailer, it appears that there are multiple tracks you can jump around on. Back to my demo.
The music was a rhythm fueled tribal lover’s dream. Instead of simply hitting the notes as you they play, it is almost presented in a Simon Says style, where you hear the rhythm you’re supposed to play, then you play the rhythm back. It was unique, refreshing, and I absolutely loved it. The first few stages were simply to introduce you to the type of button presses, so it holds your hand for a little bit. That doesn’t last long however. If you mess up the rhythm, you lose a “wing.” If you mess up again, you lose your other “wing.” On the third mistake, you restart that stage over. Upon completing a stage, you receive your wings back. It is a simple, yet unique way to go about lives.
After a few minutes of tutorials, you get placed into your first boss fight. Yes, a boss fight in a rhythm game, how awesome is that?! In the boss battles, you must complete each section perfectly to send an attack down the track. If you mess up one of the presses, the section will repeat after the “attack” release at the end of the phrase. If you fail three times during the fight, you will have to restart. After a few attacks, you continue past the boss, and go through the next rhythm section. The demo kicks off from here, giving multiple commands in succession. It was actually really catchy and addicting. The demo ended with a final boss fight against a crazy looking flying skull named Crakhed. The demo was on PlayStation VR, and it was wild. While I don’t feel like it would take away from the game if you don’t play it with it, it was really neat being able to actually look up and follow the upcoming track that you are getting ready to play on. It was just an experience that I do not have words to describe how awesome it was.
The demo left me wanting, no, needing more. Thumper comes out later this year, and I couldn’t be more excited to get my hands on it again. It is due out for Steam, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR for 2016. No other release windows have been revealed yet. Now we just wait and wait and wait to hear more. If you want to check out gameplay, below is Polygon’s video from Drool LLC’s YouTube channel!