Terrorhythm Featured Image

Terrorhythm Title Screen

Terrorhythm is a new rhythm game developed and self-published by the indie developer, EvilCoGames. It has been released via Steam Early Access on April 6, 2018. That is a very important distinction. Because you are purchasing the game for $19.99, it might be reasonable to assume that you are getting a complete game. But you should know up front that this game is far from complete, and the Steam Page is very candid about that. That, of course, puts the developer in the difficult position of attracting enough support in the early version of the game to fund the development of the rest of the assets.

Terrorhythm | Rhythm Action
At first glance it looks a little like a side scrolling beat em up.

At its most basic level, this is a rhythm game. If you look at the screen above it might look a lot like a beat em up action game. But you can’t just mash the buttons to win. You have to press the direction button left or right (depending on which side the enemy is on) in time with the beat of the music. At the very top of the screen you can see an EQ representation of the current song’s structure. The song will determine when you have to hit the direction buttons and how quickly enemies appear on the screen. Unfortunately they don’t have controller support yet so you have to use the keyboard keys, but I would imagine that controller support will be forthcoming. There is a little variety in the enemies, some being elites and some having shields, but they still all look very basic so far, with very little difference between them. While writing this preview they did add a new boss type, so it does look like they are trying to correct the same enemy problem.

Terrorhythm | Stages
There were only 5 different backgrounds initially.

There were only 5 different stages in the original version, but they are adding new ones each week. So far they only really seem to be a background for you to play against. There is nothing really special about the stages and even though this mode is labeled “Story”, there is no actual story there. The only real progression in the stages is the difficulty selection, there is no real difference in difficulty between Hard on Stage 1 and Hard on Stage 5. There are more enemies and slightly more difficult enemies when you choose a higher difficulty, but I never really had any problems at any difficulty level. I only ever died once and it had more to do with the song selection than the difficulty level.

Terrorhythm | Custom Songs
Custom songs are what makes this game worth playing for me.

Overall my experience with this game was pretty disappointing, particularly because there were only 2 songs initially. They’ve already added some more, but that is not the long term appeal for me. The long term appeal and redeeming factor, is that you can upload your own songs to play in the stages. However there are some pretty serious limitations with this. The first limitation, which probably won’t be felt by anyone but me, is that there is a pretty tight limit on how long your song can be before the game bugs out. As someone who loves progressive metal and progressive rock that can be a serious restriction, but for others it won’t be as much of an issue. Whats worse for any real fan of music is that so far you can only upload mp3 music files. I tried 4 other music file types and none of them would work. That is a serious problem because this is supposed to be a game that appeals to music fans. But any serious music fan knows that mp3 is pretty much the worst format to save your music in (it reduces the quality of the track quite a bit in order to compress the file down to as small of a size as possible). I may have over 2000 songs on my computer, but less than 50 of them are in mp3 format. That is something that will need to be fixed very quickly.

Terrorhythm | Needs Work
There is potential here, but it’s still very early.

That’s all that there is to this game. Continuing on the negative side, the game is very buggy and crashed back to the desktop many times while I was playing or trying to upload songs. There is no multiplayer, and no story, and very limited variety in every facet. If I was to actually score this game, it would score very low. But that is the issue with Early Access games. They do charge you money, but many of them (this game as a great example) are still very early in development. There is potential here, particularly if you are a serious music nut. But this game has a ways to go before it will feel like that $19.99 is money well spent. You are really paying for the potential of the game more than what you are getting now. Because of that, I would recommend you support it, if the final product is something you are interested in. Without the early adopters, it may never reach the final state. Such is the inherent risk in being a very small developer without a publisher. But there are some good ideas here, so I do hope this small team can see their vision through to the end.

William Haderlie
Born in the 1970's, I've been an avid participant for much of video game history. A lifetime of being the sort of supergeek entrenched in the sciences and mathematics has not curbed my appreciation for the artistry of video games, cinema, and especially literature.