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