Guitar Hero and Rock Band are pretty much dead and even dance games seem to be slowing their pace. But through indies the music genre lives on, so if you’re needing your music game fix, here’s the best options for you.
5. Beat Hazard Ultra (Developed by ColdBeam Games for the PC, Mac, Linux, PS3, XBLI, iOS and Android)
Beat Hazard Ultra is a dual joystick shooter with levels which are procedurally generated based on the music that players feed into it. The main thing the music impacts is the particle effects of the game, used for the player’s attacks and also for visualisers. The Visualisers exist pretty much entirely to make your life hell, making it harder to see enemy projectiles to dodge when the music really kicks up. There’s a big list of perks and upgrades and bosses to defeat as of the Ultra upgrade to the game, so it’s definitely worth a play!
4. Retro/Grade (Developed by 24 Caret games for PC and PS3)
Released on PC, PS3 and then PC again, Retro/Grade is billed as a reverse side-scrolling shooter, where the main character has caused some kind of horrific event by defeating the final boss and must rewind through time capturing all his old projectiles. The actual gameplay should be quite familiar to fans of music games, it’s not completely dissimilar from Guitar Hero or Rock (and in fact it supports the guitars from each) but the setting allows for some far more interesting scenarios. It also has a totally amazing soundtrack.
3. Sound Shapes (Developed by Queasy Games for the PS3 and PS Vita)
This game is a little borderline for this list, since Sony Santa Monica helped out in getting it onto Vita and PS3. But that can largely be chalked down to Sony’s support for Indie studios rather than the studio themselves not being Indie. Sound Shapes is a musical platformer which builds music based on your actions in the stage. It’s a cool concept that really succeeds because of the fantastic support from a variety of artists such as Deadmau5 and Superbrothers (who in particular added some fantastic Swords and Sworcery style music and art to the game.) Also there’s a fantastically in depth level creator where you can build your own music from scratch!
2. Auditorium (Developed by Cipher Prime for the PC, Mac, iOS, PS3 and PSP)
Auditorium is by far the most beautiful game on this list. The simple art style and the soothing music just blend together perfectly to create one of those games that it’s easy to enjoy even when you’re stuck on a puzzle. Even when you’re messing up the game sounds fantastic and feels like it’s rewarding you for even trying. The gameplay itself involves rerouting streams of light to new locations. Sounds easy? Well it’s not, each level you get given a set number of symbols which can alter the streams in specific ways. Some rotate it, some speed it up, some loop it round and so on. It can take a lot of smarts to finish the whole thing, probably why I got stuck so often.
What can I say about Audiosurf? It’s the oldest game in this list, but it has stood the test of time. Merging puzzle elements to the usual “Collect the object on the beat” gameplay that was popularised by Guitar Hero, Audiosurf is a must have for any fan of music games. Each level is generated based on your own music and every song has its own leaderboard generated when anyone has played it. No matter how obscure the song you play in this game is, odds are there’s at least one other person on the leaderboards for it. And the leaderboards are really what separates it from the rest. They are integrated so well and divided up in a fun way that lets you compete with friends and strangers on the internet on your favourite song. It’s just damn fun.
But if you’ve played all these and are looking towards the future, maybe you should get excited for: