The whole reason Google Indie Play Festival exists is to single out the most promising, innovative, and downright enjoyable indie games on the Play Store.
When a game gets a mention, not least a place among the finalists, you sit up and listen.
Rhythmer_, from indie studio Sixteen Up, is the perfect example of a casual indie game. This clever rhythm-platformer takes an established genre – or rather, two established genres – and refreshes them with ultra-stylish presentation and some innovative gameplay twists.
Your goal is simply to reach the end of each stage by dodging the various walls, spikes, and geometrical shapes that the game throws at you.
In the process you’ll also need to collect gems, since this allows you to unlock new content and modes.
Here are the five reasons we think Rhythmer_ managed to make a splash at Google Indie Play Festival 2022.
Simple Pick-Up-and-Play Controls
The key to a good casual game is simple controls. In fact, you should be able to play pretty much any mobile game with one thumb.
Rhythmer_ absolutely nails this principle. To switch from one side of the line to the other you just tap on the corresponding side of the screen. After that, every tap on that side makes your little ball jump.
There’s a surprising amount of satisfaction to be had in using these simple inputs to steer your ball to safety.
When you hear the term “rhythm game”, a certain kind of music comes to mind. Beat Saber, Thumper, Rez, and countless others all use thumping rock and electro beats, presumably to give you an obvious rhythm to play along with.
Rhythmer_ uses a different approach, with serene piano, guitar, and string tracks where the notes are mostly foreshadowed by the hazards on the screen. This makes for a more instinctive and satisfying experience than your usual rhythm-action fare.
What it’s not, however, is easy. Rhythmer_ is an ultra-demanding game that will draw on all your reserves of patience, concentration, and skill.
It moves at a brisk rate, with hazards flying towards you like shuriken. All the while you’ll need to make sure you’re on the right side of the line, and collecting plenty of gems.
If you don’t pick up enough, you’ll have to complete the entire stage again. Rhythmer_ lets you bank the gems you collected on your previous run, but you’ll almost certainly need to complete each stage several times before you can move on.
It’s brutal stuff – just how we like it.
But there’s a ray of light in the fact that Rhythmer_ doesn’t have random stages.
While a lot of casual skill based games use procedural generation to ensure that every run is unique, Rhythmer_’s stages are entirely predictable. This means you can learn them, just as you can learn a piece of music.
As long as you know how to concentrate, you should be able to memorize the stages and unlock new content.
No Ads or IAPs
It’s rare these days for a developer to eschew the free-to-play orthodoxy that has dominated mobile gaming for the last decade – but it’s always a treat when one does.
While there is a free Lite version of Rhythmer_, it doesn’t contain intrusive ads or lock content behind IAPs. Instead, it’s a limited version of the game with just two stages.
If you like it, you’re welcome to buy the premium version for 99c and enjoy more levels and modes for the price of a candy bar.