Soundfall, from developer Drastic Games and publisher Noodlecake, recently had a surprise launch for PC and consoles. We checked out the PlayStation 4 and 5 versions of the game, which blends twin-stick controls with rhythm-based gameplay and tons of loot.
At its easiest setting, Soundfall can play very much like a standard twin stick shooter, but that’s not what makes this game unique. Nor is the narrative premise, which involves protagonist Melody, a Guardian of Harmony in the world of Symphonia. You see where this is going, right? Your nemesis in the game is Discord, and it’s up to you to defeat it and go back to enjoying a life filled with music. And no, not that Discord.
As mentioned, Soundfall can be played as a regular twin stick shooter, and that’s the core of the game. You’ll also find plenty of loot, which translates to your ability to equip two guys at a time and alternate between them, as well as a chance to pick up and/or purchase other upgrades, like armor. A fairly typical looter-shooter then, except this one takes place inside a music-filled game world where playing to the sound of the beat boosts your performance and combo levels.
Sure, you can lower the difficulty level and get away with not doing that – or work around the fact that your sense of rhythm doesn’t allow for you to do it – but it’s very satisfying to see your bullets do more damage because you fired them at exactly the right moment, or to slash a sword into an enemy right when the beat hits. On the PlayStation, the DualSense controls works fantastically well with this concept too, gently vibrating to the music and letting you feel the moments when the beat hits.
Having great timing isn’t everything though – you’ll still need to pay attention to your loadout as well, and it’s fun to experiment with Soundfall’s large roster of available weapons. An extra dimension gets added when you find others in Symphonica to come and help you – and the game can be played with up to four players in its multiplayer mode as well.
Levels are generally very short, so this is a fast-paced game where a mission is about the length of a song. There’s some diversity in the backdrops of the locations, but in general you’ll find that the core gameplay loop stays the same and get even get a bit repetitive once you settle into a weapon combination that you like. At least in solo play, because things get more fun and frantic once you get others to join you.
Soundfall comes together very well though, and its musical elements really add something unique to the twin-stick looter shooter formula. The soundtrack is varied as well, so you don’t have to worry about it being too heavily into techno beats or some other particular genre either. This may have been a surprise release, but it was definitely a pleasant one.