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Thumper

Developer / Publisher: Drool
10 October 2016
Thumper - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.66 / 5.0
0.5
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367 Ratings / 6 Reviews
#815 All-time
#27 for 2016
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Title
best rhythm game, absolutely amazing, nothing compares
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yoitu 2023-10-03T12:22:46Z
2023-10-03T12:22:46Z
›80%
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Thumper showed me I should adjust my attitude when it comes to beating games. The first time I played it ended up being quite stressful; because I felt compelled to beat the game, the challenges it throws at you ended up feeling 300% more bullshit than they actually are and clouded my judgment. When I decided to return for a non-committal playthrough going for S-ranks, I felt no stress about it and was able to assess my experience with the game in a more nuanced way.

My assessment hasn't changed too drastically, however. Thumper, ostensibly a rhythm game, has an incredibly cavalier approach to the concept of rhythm itself. While the individual elements are indeed synchronized to the backing track (which cleverly changes time signature according to the level's number), together they very rarely converge to any discernible pattern. The upbeat and downbeat of the backing track are often disregarded entirely.

Combined with a lack of repetition, all of this makes the forming music feel very arbitrary and chaotic, which feeds into the gameplay feeling the same way; after a point there is no anticipation, only reaction. I found the way the game attempts to assist the player - by providing audible cues exactly one bar ahead - to often clash with the current situation rather than helping; and in later stages the game starts physically distorting the playing field, which compounds the difficulty of parsing information even further.

Still, as unapproachable as Thumper makes itself, in the end it still supplies the primal joy of hitting buttons in time with a beat with mighty visual and aural feedback, and the amazingly polished aesthetic of the game and UI helps offset its oppressive nature. These are the reasons I went back to playing it after having a less than positive initial experience, and this shows the importance of revision.
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alliterativeAlpinist 2021-04-20T17:33:34Z
2021-04-20T17:33:34Z
6.5 /10
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Originally rated 4.5/10 @ 20 Apr 2021; reviewed 3 Feb 2023

The ability to adjust the amplitude of force feedback instead of having an on/off switch would've been nice; maybe it's my specific controller being faulty but the force feedback implementation here caused distracting buzzing in the triggers.

I played with controller, arcade stick and keyboard. Currently keyboard is my interface of choice; I'm not too good with the stick yet, and my controller has lag/dropout due to issues with Bluetooth connectivity.

The fact that it runs incredibly fast is testament to the game's achievements in the visual realm; I really enjoy running it at 240 FPS; although while uncapped the game still caps at 240 FPS for me for some reason.

S-ranking is surprisingly lenient at times, you can afford a mistake or two occasionally. Of course, then there's getting S+...

This game is *literally* polished, I swear like half of the surfaces are chrome
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Psychedelic "rhythm violence" stuns and satisfies
(written oct 16, 2016)

I have an intense love for rhythm games; they’re one of the biggest game genres that challenges your reflex and hand-eye coordination with extremely simple mechanics. Rhythm games are fairly easy for me to get good at, but as someone who can “Superb!” the tenth remix on Rhythm Heaven with my eyes closed, Thumper is an insane challenge that I am determined to get good at.

Thumper is a self-described “rhythm violence” game, created by ex-Harmonix developer Marc Flury, as well as Brian Gibson, the lead bassist for noise-rock band Lightning Bolt. The premise of the game, as ripped from the game’s website: “You are a space beetle. Brave the hellish void and confront a maniacal giant head from the future.”

The game puts the space beetle on an eternal rail, where it can stomp squares of light to the beat, drift against curved walls, ram through bars, and other violent acts against musical elements. Imagine it as Guitar Hero, with only one lane and a character visually inputting all the marks.

All these mechanics give a “heads up” sound while appearing, a-la Rhythm Heaven, but it adds to the crushing plunderphonics that you help the game provide. The backing drone, rail elements appearing, and you destroying them all compile the soundtrack, giving the strongest sense of interaction in a rhythm game I’ve seen in awhile, to the point where it simulates the experience of learning an instrument.

Throughout each level, there are little “solo” sections that put multiple mechanics into a long, sequential string. Doing these solos perfectly triggers a little jingle to say you succeeded and it’s so satisfying to hear. There are even levels to how satisfying the jingle is depending on how well you did the solo.

What’s even more crushing than the game’s soundtrack is it’s difficulty. It’s not unfair, there’s a foreseeable difficulty curve, but by God, is it a curve. Every level is separated into at least twenty, 2-minute long pieces of music, and each level presents a new entity, whether it be an intimidating floating metal or an oncoming skeleton snake, something tries to mess you up while simultaneously adding to the music. How all of this is (no pun intended) composed and presented makes Thumper feel like a game that was only available in underground Japanese arcades.
Thumper is probably the best looking game this year. Graphics are a combination of grimy and clean, muddy and vibrant; everything is shiny and chrome, with gritty yet rich colors poured onto the environment. From a coding perspective, there’s very simple stuff to work with; most of the enemies you fight in Thumper are simple shapes, but drowning them with shine and color that makes it visually mind blowing.

The game’s intensity is added by the camerawork. If you get hit and/or die, the game stops while the camera zooms in and shakes violently, turning the whole game red for a moment, or when you get a hit sent to a boss, the game zooms in on your final note and hits the boss with a heavy bass and shaky visuals, adding way more tension to all the songs.

Of course, Thumper’s main event is its amazing soundtrack. It delivers a barrage of hardcore, brutal music to which I can only categorize as “dark orchestra.” The game samples different types of instruments in every sound, collectively creating an violent orchestral fanfare that delivers hard-hitting, nonstop action. With all this plus a lack of story, Thumper has you playing through the music rather than a music video.
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keublitz 2022-12-10T05:23:07Z
2022-12-10T05:23:07Z
86
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Thumper is a really neat game for the way it feels as if it's all focused on a single, abstract concept and nothing more, that concept being "catharsis". I also think that this concept plays well into a rhythm game such as this where feedback is already an absolutely integral component, in this case simply making attempts to amp it all up while guiding the player through an abstract hellscape with seemingly no end, setting a really cool aesthetic to go with the gameplay. The whole moniker of a "rhythm violence game" is something that I feel is absolutely spot on in some respects but a bit overstated in others with this however. From a visual perspective, the game does an incredible job at sending a constant barrage of lights and obstacles at the player, with the high speed of the game making it feel even more intense as it almost feels as if you're completely incapable of taking a breather before more stuff gets sent your way. My issue actually comes from the audio side of things, as while the audio feedback from the player's actions are wonderfully bassy and have a ton of weight behind them, the music itself feels a bit off, there's a lot of heavy drums, which I love in music and I think it works well for the vibe that Thumper is going for, but it feels mixed weirdly to the point where it can often feel like background noise rather than the backbone off what you're playing the game on. This leads to the rhythms that the player is following to overcome the obstacles in their way sometimes feel entirely different to the soundtrack, and causes this odd disconnect that made the game feel far less satisfying than it really should have.

While this disconnect definitely makes the game feel far less satisfying than it really should by all rights, it's further compounded by the fact that sometimes it barely feels as if there's a rhythm at all, or if there is, it's too complex to have a tangible enough groove to be conducive to a game like this, especially one that is attempting to be so overwhelmingly intense with each individual interaction, to have these more intricate, difficult to grasp sequences feels directly at odds with the game's vision to the point where it can be distracting, especially in later stages where there are these moments combined with an absolutely ludicrous speed that makes it feel more as if the game took the concept of a "rhythm violence game in hell" and shifted its focus towards extreme difficulty rather than its cathartic, meaty feel. The level design is also pretty hit or miss, as while there are a lot of sections which work well in naturally guiding the player through some intense scenarios, there were so many times where the game felt less like a test of anything other than memorisation due to how quickly it would throw things at you in quick succession and then punish you harshly for failing to react to an unreactable situation.

Despite the numerous complains however, it's less that I even dislike the game, as I truly think that it's often an amazing experience that goes above and beyond to fulfill a singular artistic vision with a lot of effort in having every aspect of its design contribute to this one idea, despite its shortcomings in certain elements of its execution. The game is just a touch too inconsistent for me to truly say I love it despite all of its incredible potential, but it's not enough to say that this is anywhere close to bad either. Play it if you want an intense, visceral experience and can deal with a bit of inconsistency and some brutal difficulty.
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Kempokid 2021-12-04T10:31:26Z
2021-12-04T10:31:26Z
3.5
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Jacob Geller already gave a perfect, typically poetic breakdown of what makes this game so good in his video on games that 'save the best for last', so maybe you should just watch that. (Though if you're interested in the game I'd suggest only watching until he actually gets to what comes last, because it is a truly imaginative level that perfectly wraps up a game that didn't really need wrapping up.)

I get the sense that this is a game that's way more impactful if you're actually good at the game - to a point that many people likely aren't at. It takes skill enough just to beat the game, but to try and get high scores or perfect ranks requires a level of skill that transcends this mortal plane. The average person who can beat the game - and by that I mean me, since my repeated 'C' ranks tell me I'm nothing special - are going to find themselves messing up a lot, and I personally dumbed down the difficulty every now and again by purposefully ignoring some obstacles that would probably just kill me and still find result in a mediocre score. (I actually really like that way of incorporating difficulty, though there are some parts of the game that are not remotely forgiving in that regard.) But every now and again, there are some moments where you're finally able to lock into the groove and click with each obstacle, building speed as the music gets tense and colours are flashing all around. Those moments are a thrill, but unless you're great at the game, you won't get a lot of them.

This isn't really a bad thing - I'm thrilled to have accessibility options in a lot of games, but I can also appreciate that some games are mechanically oriented towards a certain type of player, and making concessions for those players might undercut that. (Note that this applies to very few games, and literally no AAA games.) To include an easy mode for this game wouldn't fundamentally be much different than just watching a YouTube video of someone else playing it. But I do think some more concessions could be made, and I think my least favourite thing about this game is how it be a little too visually stimulating sometimes, to the point where it sometimes becomes difficult to see obstacles in front of you. (I'm surprised there's no major seizure warning on this game.) This is a real problem when you get hit the first time in an area, where the screen explodes with the same red colour as the obstacles. You get a decent period of invincibility to help with that, the visuals last past that and you can very quickly get die right after in a tightly-packed area.

Still; it's not as if I don't get why it's like that, and the visuals are a huge part of why this game can be such a thrill. (On that note: another game that'd be great in VR that I'd love to try should I ever have the setup.) It's also obviously a continuation of the visuals Brian Gibson had been doing for Rock Band, elevated to the next level to match the energy he brings to Lightning Bolt. 'Rhythm violence' is an apt descriptor; and on those aims, the game succeeds perfectly.
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Azdiff 2021-05-17T03:34:31Z
2021-05-17T03:34:31Z
3.5
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Thumper is actually the first rhythm game that I ever played (if Glitchwave genre tags are to be trusted), it's not a genre that I specifically looked for and outside of my general niche of RPG and strategy games. Funny enough playing this reminded me more of Celeste than anything else, having to get the right sequence of button mashing and the correct timing.

Thumper is okay, but after a while it starts to feel repetitive even if the difficulty ramps up a little bit. It's the same move left/right, hold A, avoid this, jump there and you repeat that for a whole lot of time. Yes there are more challenging levels that feel satisfying when you finally beat them, but most of time I was just going through the motions and thinking about other stuff while playing (like what I am going to cook for dinner?). I've got pretty terrible scores on the later levels, but it doesn't feel like a game that grips me to get the highest score, it's just not something that appeals to me, or at least in this game it doesn't.

The music has this industrial feel and is pretty essential to the game, and at times as you hit the bumps your sound effects start to match up with the music tracks, it's a cute little effect but the gimmick wears off pretty quickly. There's a lot of light and color in the graphics, but that too wears off quickly as it's always the same thing over and over again.

Not that I hated my time that I spent with Thumper, it was okay/enjoyable but not much more and it didn't grip with excitement which seems to be the reception that many people give to it. I'm not going to dismiss the entire genre based off this, but considering the hype I do was expecting something more impressive. On a sidenote I played this on Stadia (with the controller) and the controls were 100% responsive and there was no felt latency whatsover... not that it's the most hardware demanding game, but lots of people are still skeptical of the service.
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diction 2020-01-01T20:32:26Z
2020-01-01T20:32:26Z
3.0
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Catalog

cread00 Thumper 2024-06-09T15:27:50Z
2024-06-09T15:27:50Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
crapballa Thumper 2024-06-06T02:24:54Z
2024-06-06T02:24:54Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
ggng Thumper 2024-06-01T21:13:52Z
2024-06-01T21:13:52Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
MaestroOak Thumper 2024-05-27T23:28:20Z
2024-05-27T23:28:20Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
CaptainPlasma Thumper 2024-05-26T00:56:19Z
Windows
2024-05-26T00:56:19Z
4.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
thatmusicguy Thumper 2024-05-24T17:07:18Z
2024-05-24T17:07:18Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Nezbie Thumper 2024-05-12T23:27:01Z
2024-05-12T23:27:01Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Azekahh Thumper 2024-04-25T16:05:54Z
2024-04-25T16:05:54Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Foppishcrow Thumper 2024-04-23T18:40:37Z
2024-04-23T18:40:37Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
dandog2142 Thumper 2024-04-21T00:31:57Z
2024-04-21T00:31:57Z
2.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
orchidcnr Thumper 2024-04-16T04:40:12Z
PS4
2024-04-16T04:40:12Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
FirstMate Thumper 2024-03-29T18:10:36Z
2024-03-29T18:10:36Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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Single-player
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  • Previous comments (18) Loading...
  • jonesindiana 2022-07-31 19:12:30.110066+00
    anyone who says this is all about reactions isnt listening to audio cues
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • alliterativeAlpinist 2022-08-10 15:27:05.173253+00
    p cool on an arcade stick
    reply
    • alliterativeAlpinist 2022-08-10 22:48:52.844717+00
      though the lack of force feedback is kinda felt
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  • RawheatC 2022-09-13 22:02:51.151487+00
    There definitely is a rhythm in all of those tracks. Sometimes it gets into unpredictable directions, but despite the complexity, it has a pulse that I can feel out. Now I don't play jazz rhythm or anything but I am able to pick out the overall patterns in the rhythm in most of the tracks.

    Some sections I have to retry to understand the rhythm and pulse, and it ends up feeling like learning a musical segment. I enjoy that aspect of the game for sure. But in the end, when the game gets harder and start demanding more complex inputs, I can't help but feel that brain power and dexterity practice would be better spent in actually practicing an instrument.
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  • _sawdustanddiamonds_ 2023-04-07 02:50:46.705262+00
    just found out that all the music and the art for this was done by the bassist from fucking lightning bolt???
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  • Shinotame 2024-01-15 21:31:16.985207+00
    This game answers the question "what if a noise metal was a game?". Only 1 button + d-pad/analog, mesmerizing visuals, insane soundtrack.

    Also a funny thing that turns it harder in a different way. Normally rhythm games are on a time signature of 4/4, like most popular music.
    Thumper twists this in a crazy way, basically these are the time signatures of the levels ( take this with pinch of salt, I did study music but I am no musician nor audio designer ):
    Level 1: 1/4 or 2/4 ( can't decide here )
    Level 2: 2/4
    Level 3: 3/4
    Level 4: 4/4
    Level 5: 5/8
    Level 6: 6/8
    Level 7: 7/8
    Level 8: No clue here, couldn't really feel it but by following the pattern would be 8/8.
    Level 9: 9/8

    This will make all levels feel very very very different. And some like 7 and especially 9 where you'll have this uncanny feeling because this time signatures don't feel "natural". This compiled with the visuals make this experience 100% unique.

    Also, the ending levels are aggressively perfect.
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