We've been jamming to the beat and slaying forces of Discord in Drastic Games' rhythm-based dungeon crawler.
A few months ago, I had the chance to take a first look at Drastic Games' rhythm-based dungeon crawler Soundfall. During that time, I found myself rather engrossed by the musical gameplay, and became excited for the full launch, which at the time was still planned for spring 2022. Jump to the present and Soundfall has been out for a little while, following a fairly surprising quick launch, and I've spent a bunch of time jamming to the beat and slaying creatures of Discord and now I have some thoughts.
But first, a bit of housekeeping: what exactly is Soundfall? Well, this game revolves around a musical genius who has been transported to the fantastical realm of Symphonia. It's here that we learn that this very genius, known as Melody, has been summoned to Symphonia to help the Composers fight back against the tyrannical and chaotic forces of Discord that are growing ever more powerful. With this being the case, Soundfall asks players to head out on an adventure across the world of Symphonia, using the power of music to blast through hordes of Discord, all to restore harmony back to the land.
It's a title where the storyline, while present, never really feels that important or well-baked into the actual gameplay, as you'll become more immersed and entertained by the desire to improve the strength and power of Melody (and the other four playable Guardians of Harmony) by just cracking on and diving into gameplay. And to this extent, after progressing through a few of the ten available worlds, it becomes pretty clear that the gameplay itself isn't as deep or entertaining as one might have hoped.
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I say this as the main draw is the rhythm-based gameplay, which is fairly well implemented. You have to time your shots and dashes to the beat of the unique soundtrack that is playing over each level, as if you find yourself off-beat, your shots will do less damage and your dashes simply fail. This works well, and is fun and challenging to get right, but it's also pretty much the entire identity of Soundfall, as the variety in characters, weapons, and levels is so basic that it genuinely does feel like you're just doing the same thing - perhaps in a level with a slightly different layout - over and over again.
And this is my biggest issue with Soundfall, because despite offering hundreds of songs (more when factoring in the ability to import songs as well), five playable characters, and over 500 pieces of equipment, it really feels like you've seen the majority of what this game has to offer by the time you reach the third world. The enemies do change slightly, as do their attacks, and the levels become more challenging and rewarding, but a lot of the time, there's an aura of familiarity when loading into each unique level that is quite frankly overpowering and if anything... a little monotonous.
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That's not to say that Soundfall is an inherently bad game in any sense though. It still plays incredibly smoothly, looks visually-striking, and has a core design that drives intrigue, it just struggles to remain an engaging and entertaining product after a bunch of hours. The songs are highlights, and Drastic Games has done well creating such a diverse and upbeat playlist of tracks, so much so that you will find yourself incessantly tapping your feet as you blast through the forces of Discord. It's just a shame that the challenge posed by the forces of Discord never really evolves or develops, and that the level design feels so repeated that it's actually exhausting.
Regardless, Soundfall is still an intriguing product and one that I am happy to have spent time with and played. It doesn't leave me with a bitter taste in my mouth, but at the same time, I'm not really ecstatic or stunned by what I've seen. If you fancy yourself a bit of a melomaniac, this might be the game for you, but otherwise, it might struggle to hold your attention.
6 / 10
Great and broad list of songs. Visually-striking. Plays well. Intriguing concept.
Gameplay becomes tedious and monotonous after a while. Storyline feels unimportant. Upgrading and progression systems feel quite uninspired.