For reasons unknown, the whole music-driven action adventure scene has exploded in recent times; the mixing of age-old tropes with the power of the beat proving to be a bit of a success. Perhaps it’s due to the advancement in technology, or as the skills of developers suddenly start to pay off. Maybe it’s a trend. Whatever, it’s a welcome distraction from other more well trodden paths.
Jumping on those coattails is Soundfall, a game that does a lot right. It’s not by any means perfect, and does tire slightly the more you play, but if you fancy a long running blast through the mysteries of some musical melodies, it pretty much hits the mark.
Sold as a dungeon crawling twin-stick looter-shooter that is powered by the music which drags it along, what Drastic Games and Noodlecake have created certainly deserves some recognition. It’s clever for one, as it whisks you off to the world of Symphonia in hope of saving the land. See, it’s this world which has been hit by a blight, corrupting the lands. You, as a Guardian of Harmony, get the chance to put an end to the troubles, taking on the evil powers of Discord and ultimately try to bring Harmony to the world. In more ways than one.
As a Guardian of Harmony, you find yourself powered by music and in Soundfall you’ll need to work with this, feeling each and every beat of the Metronome as you go about your business. Shooting on the beat brings power, whilst dodging and jumping helps build combos, all as your multiple – unlockable Heroes – try in vain to overpower the evil forces of the land.
It all works really well in the early stages, as foes pop up dependant on the music at hand. Playing – and sounding – differently depending on the biomes of the world map you find yourself in, Soundfall absolutely excels in the musical tastes that are thrown out there. There’s pretty much something for everyone too; fast and hard, slow and serene, and others that just want to immerse you into the delicately dense dance that Soundfall delivers. Whilst the intensity is initially low too, it really allows you to become one with what Drastic Games have created, as you hone your skills and home in on the beat-hitting badassery that you create.
In fact, it’s only been as progress is made and the sheer speed and intensity of the tunes ramp up where we started to fall out of love slightly with Soundfall – it’s about then it just starts to turn into a more generic shooter, one that seems to forget about the whole beat-driven super-powered gameplay that it initially provides.
Switching things back down to lower temperatures has been our personal call, and really Soundfall is neat in how it lets you amend playstyles dependent on your own wishes. That feeds in to the variety of weapons that are on show too, all as your heroes begin to power themselves up, leveling through stages and gathering new abilities. It’s here where the looting aspect comes in, as you make decisions on how to run future forays, poring over stats, working inventories and grabbing new items from the in-game store with the currency you have earnt out in the field. There are a whole ton of weapons, armours and specials to make the most of, multiplied by numerous unlockable heroes who you begin to stumble upon as the story plays out.
That story is fairly decent too, even for someone who usually cares little for being told tales. It brings reason to your adventure and ensures that Soundfall is capable of neatly segueing from biome to biome. Perhaps it’s a bit cheesy at times, and we’d not particularly mind if some of the cut sequences were shorter, less chatty, affairs, but for those looking for it, Soundfall continues to work well. There’s no debate that those scenes are certainly well created, with a ton of love thrown in.
They look great too, but in fact Soundfall as a whole is just as visually impressive as it sounds. Super colourful and highly detailed, running the biomes and firing off shots this way and that, dodging incoming fire and opening up secret areas is all done so in superb style.
Exploring the worlds is encouraged too, with missions and objectives kicking around in the background. But you’ll want to explore too much at your peril; with the tunes in place comes a need to move forth at speed, keeping on track; ending levels just as the backing tracks do so, will see you well rewarded. It does mean there is a more than a decent degree of replayability in Soundfall though and this is certainly a game that you’ll be able to dip in and out of for a decently long time – whether that be for hours-long gaming sessions or as you just wish to take in a quick level full of your favoured tunes.
Multiplayer support gives reason to continue going back to Soundfall, but for us the real joy comes in the less intense moments; those times when Soundfall works best, shooting and dodging as you build combos with each and every beat. As the intensity rises, Soundfall loses some of that initial joy, but should you be on the lookout for a game that tries much in terms of the music, the shooting, the looting and the twin-sticking – pretty much delivering on each and every one of those aspects – Soundfall is worth a beat-driven shot.
Buy Soundfall from the Xbox Store