Title: Thumper
Genre: Rhythm Action
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Tested) and PC
Release Date: 2016
Developer: Drool
Publisher: Drool

Indie Games and Virtual Reality is the so-called “wave” this generation and boy do they make the perfect marriage for new innovative experiences. With tons of VR games on the show floor this past weekend I had the pleasure during my PAX East 2016 run to first play the indie visual rhythmic experience titled, Thumper on PlayStation VR. The game is developed by the two-man team Brian Gibson (Musician of the band Lightening Bolt & worked with Harmonix), along with Marc Flury (a programmer, who’s worked with Harmonix’s The Beatles: Rock Band and Dance Central project).

During my visit at the booth I had the pleasure to meet both and see how both of their specialties created a hypnotic visual experience that incorporated rhythm. Last time I tested out the PlayStation VR was when it was called by its code name, Project Morpheus, and was an early version without the extra High Definition kick. In addition, I only played demoed showcases and not a full type of game, so this was a treat to finally play an actual game to see how the PlayStation VR would stand up to the other VR experiences. Once Thumper was loaded, I was in total state of awe on the visuals. The graphics were stellar in a tripped out type of way that, I automatically felt as if I was in the world of Tron but in a more transcendent way. The point of view that I tested lets you view from side to side and up and down.

Concept of Thumper

Thumper
PlayStation Magazine showcased the history of the coined rhythm violence title, Thumper with a timeline of its process.

So to dive more into the details of Thumper, it is a quite simple concept that delivers a lot though with the gameplay. You control this metallic type of blob, which is a cool space beetle, on a course that is like a space warp type of roller coaster that you have to traverse through with the help of the sound of the beat. The beetle is on a trying journey towards a maniacal giant head from the future which the enemy you get and try to defeat.

Mechanics / Gameplay

On the Dualshock PS4 controller I was able to control the space beetle with one analog stick and one button, while speeding through some stunning, trippy and treacherous scenery. Each rhythmic hit, crash, and impact is interwoven with an original soundtrack by Brian Gibson, from the band Lightning Bolt.

Experience

Prepare to trip out with a space beetle that’ll make you crave more of its challenges

On the first run you go though a series of a type of tutorial gameplay to get you into the groove of what is going on and try to adapt to each situation. Mind you, I went into this fully oblivious on what the hell was about to happen and I got a whiff of how to adapt to controlling the metallic blob. Throughout the experience of the tutorial I felt a sense of speed to want to move faster without any interruptions. The tutorial pretty much helps you prepare how to react when an obstacle is about to approach, for example boosting through these fiery type of lines that could be an end game to the health of the blob. You also have corners to cut on the course that will notify you when you hear them drop. Also there are energy lights that stream along the course to hit in order to knock down the rest of the course to complete. What is pretty dope and sets itself aside from the rest of the rhythmic type of games is that you must pick up the rhythm to beat the obstacles that are coming your way and defeat a type . It something you do not always have to rely on with the music but you begin to even recognize it the visual patterns which is cool.

Thumper

This game is all about quick reflexes, going fast and even defeating the crazy looking boss. This is by far not your ordinary rhythm game, as you even fight off some wicked looking type of foes. Drool themselves have coined it a rhythm violence game , now this doesn’t mean gore blood and guts but it is an unorthodox type it its genre. The level I was able to reach featured some type of skeletal demon that was raging on the course. In order to defeat it not only do you have to go to the rhythm of the obstacles to get by, but you also have to pay attention to the lights on the highway and time them correctly to shoot like an energy beam to it.
I had a blast playing Thumper and was happy one of my first experiences with the now PlayStation VR. I literally wanted to keep playing it and complete each type of level by learning from my previous mistakes. The one qualm I have as thought with VR is its replay value. VR is shaped to be an experience but should not be like a honeymoon when it comes to the experience. Players should want to keep coming back. Playing Thumper at the Drool PAX East 2016 booth really has upped my confidence that many gamers will enjoy the experience of what Virtual Reality will bring to their video games come this Fall.

Final Verdict

This indie action faced paced craziness should be on your radar for games to get this Fall, especially if you are aiming to be an early adopter of the PlayStation 4. The title is aimed to be on Steam so my guess the Oculus or HTC Vive may be its next VR platforms. I cannot wait to play more !

Drool’s award-winning indie, Thumper is set to release sometime this year on PlayStation VR and Steam. There are no set dates but Thumper may be a launch title for PlayStation VR in October. We’ll keep you posted on any new developments.