Soundfall Preview

Dungeon crawling and music rhythm gameplay come together in Drastic Games’ upcoming title Soundfall. It might seem like an odd pairing but having spent a little while with the starting area this past week, it’s something that really could end up working out quite well.

The concept goes that our character, Melody, has been sucked into a strange world named Symphonia on her way to work. Here, she finds a world that bobs and pulses to a musical beat, with even the trees swaying in time to the rhythm. Naturally, Symphonia is under threat: the evil Discord has returned and is threating to stop the music! And so, she must help defeat them and keep the music playing in order to find her way home.

It’s a light-hearted set up to give purpose to the gameplay, but it’s this gameplay that is going really grab players attention.

As I say, it combines dungeon crawling with rhythm gameplay. The former is fairly self explanatory (kill enemies, grab loot, level up etc), but when mixed with the rhythm it opens the challenge up to a whole new level. Now it’s not just about how we’re smashing enemies in, but when.

Each level is based around a singular song. This informs things like ideal completion time as well as the tempo that we need to keep. At the bottom of the screen in a metronome which helps us keep to this tempo. Using attacks or dodge moves on the beat grants them extra power and a combo meter buffs our score the longer we can keep to the rhythm. Attacking off beat won’t interrupt the combo, but it will significantly reduce our effectiveness and likely let enemies get close enough to hit us (which will reset the combo).

As levels are only a few minutes long, the ideal scenario is to keep one long combo running obviously. This is easier said than done though as it’s easy to get overwhelmed or let old dungeon crawling habits take over, trying to attack as fast as possible and get out of rhythm. By the time I’d reached the end of the demo area I was really struggling to keep time and avoid taking damage.

The opening areas songs that we’ll be playing along to are all pretty decent, which is a good thing considering how important they are to the gameplay! A variety of genres are set to be featured within the games 140+ song library, and these can be modified with several difficulty modes depending on how brave we’re feeling. In the demo we only had access to Warmup and Moderate, but even these early tracks were a challenge just on that second setting, so I dread to think how tough things will be later on.

Drastic Games have kept things easy enough to grasp though so as to help us out. Traversal and combat play out in the traditional twin-stick style, with only a handful of option available to us at a time, at least in these early stages. There isn’t much in the way of having to remember a ton of different buttons or commands, just a couple of attacks and a dodge.

Variety comes in the form of loot drops. Most enemies and crates scattered around will drop currency or health pick-ups, but occasionally we’ll get a new weapon or piece of armour. We can equip or sell off items in between missions and even in this brief experience I ended up with a pretty stacked inventory.

This will no doubt come in handy later on when we reach newer areas or find new enemies, but it’ll also help when playing with friends. Up to four can play on or off line though the online wasn’t a part of this demo and I didn’t have chance to play local play just yet.

I came away from my time with Soundfall pretty impressed. I can already see it’s going to be a hell of a challenge to keep the rhythm once enemy waves and difficulty ramp up, but this small slice was a lot of fun. Combining music rhythm and dungeon crawling seems like a bizarre combo, but if the full game can keep it up then we could be in for a treat.

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Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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