Thumper - Review
Thumper is one of those games that occupies your mind long after you finish them. It's actually a horror game disguised as a rhythm game, and more roughly a dazzling journey through a visual hell filled with original cosmic entities, punctuated by an absolutely sinister orchestral score. Its grip requiring the use of a single button makes it both accessible while allowing you to perform a ton of maneuvers based on your precision, and all of this is executed with physical brutality and speed. that offer exhilarating violence to each of your actions.
Thumper does a lot with very little, which makes it easy to access but also difficult to master. This alluring combination takes a lot of trying out of you, and this is mainly due to the way its rhythm-based gameplay nuances as the adventure progresses. The first level gives you a clear overview of the most basic game mechanics, and at the same time lays the foundations that will come in handy when the going gets tough during the nine stages of the title.
If you are using a Dualshock 4 controller, all you need to do is press X to make your little chrome space ladybug strike the fluorescent rectangles placed on the track, spaced at very specific intervals so that you grab the right rhythm to hit them more easily . Holding X allows you to speed up and cross dangerous red bars, which produce a satisfying click when you "destroy" them, and the left analog stick lets you dodge obstacles. They also emit a very distinct sound shortly before they appear, and this allows you to anticipate. The fact that certain obstacles sometimes appear at the last moment makes each race more and more hectic, and these sound clues are very useful.
If you miss branches or go straight into these clearly visible obstacles, your little ladybug's shield shatters with a deafening crash of metallic sparks that often fill the screen, preventing you at the same time from predicting what will happen next. . After two crashes you died, but the frequency of checkpoints in each of the proposed levels makes this quantity of life rather generous. Although this did not happen often, I did go so fast on the track that it was then impossible for me to get any clues about the obstacles that presented themselves to me, and the first crash was inevitably followed by a second because of the illegibility of the action on the screen. It was rather annoying when it happened, but I can hardly deny the pleasure it felt at Thumper's devastating visual brutality - a quality that is, however, much more noticeable when you're making turns at the very last moment, or learning to land shock waves to get bonuses.
Thumper is filled with these very nuanced game mechanics, which make using a single button a lot more sophisticated than it first seemed. For turns, you can hold X for as long as you want when following their curve, but pointing the analog stick to the right or left at the right time gets you bonus points for a "perfect turn". And while missing a curve will inevitably halt your flight, making a perfect turn will allow you to recover otherwise inaccessible rings. And the list is still long !
You don't need to know all of this to complete the game, and that's what consequently makes Thumper accessible to any type of player without needing to resort to an adjustable difficulty level. Thus, doing the bare minimum and avoiding the most dangerous obstacles will allow you to successfully cross the 9 levels that make up the game, but if you want to improve and progress to rank S (the game has ranks C, B, A and S), you will have to learn all the intricacies. This greatly enhances its replayability potential, and even after going through different levels for the third or fourth time, I continue to discover new approaches to improving my score on each track. It's nice to see my nickname climb the ranks of the world ranking (obviously rather deserted at the moment), but the real satisfaction undoubtedly comes from the fact of successfully executing each pulse of a sequence in order to be able to appreciate the way my movements match the rhythm of the music perfectly.
As a rhythm game, Thumper is primarily music based, but it is certain noises from your actions that make this audio experience so captivating. Every action in Thumper has an obvious sound signature that underscores your accomplishments: a deep, thudding thud when you successfully hit the pulses scrolling across the screen, a booming squeal when you make a perfect turn, or even a clicking sound. higher and higher for each red bar you destroy.
The serious things really start after the first level (serving as a big tutorial) and the game mechanics allowing you to jump over spiky peaks, fly to collect rings or even change tracks are introduced (these are no exception rule and are achieved with a simple combination of the X key and the left analog stick). At the same time, the sound cues that we have discussed above become much more than simple signals serving as a reward after a nice sequence - they even become necessary for the general rhythm. In this musical context which mixes war percussions, industrial sounds and great orchestral flights, the deaf noises, clicks and squeaks resulting from my actions on the screen punctuate the score, reinforce it and create a certain melodic unity. In his swiftest and most intense passages, I had the feeling that Thumper managed to emulate the satisfaction one can get from playing an instrument, as I hit and hold the notes to the rhythm of his haunting music.
The level of intensity and precision breaks all records during Thumper's boss battles, which are as stimulating as they are visually dazzling. By the way, most of the 9 levels have a mini-boss and a recurring final boss, a sort of burning red skull that gets more and more ugly and distorted each time it takes on a new appearance - and that's it. simply huge with VR. In many ways, Thumper is very much like the horror game.
To fight the bosses, you have to hit perfectly sequences that turn out to be more and more complex and eventually akin to chains of punches adopting green and red hues that burst on the track before a huge fluorescent punch. sends a wave of devastating energy on the enemy. Missing a single hit forces you to continue your chain without being able to benefit from the final attack, and the loop resets so you can try your luck again. Being punished by repetition turns out to be a good compromise, since it allows you to memorize and work on the sequence even when you fail. Bosses eat dandelions by the root after 4 critical hits, but the complexity of the sequences leading to the same hits increases with each level. Seeing the boss explode in a deluge of bones, steel and je ne sais quoi is ultimately a fair reward for the efforts.
Thumper's various bosses are also the culmination of his bizarre imagery, ranging from massive cosmic and geometric shapes beating to the beat of the music to dark water demons. The creepiest boss I faced was an ethereal being akin to an unlikely cross between a jellyfish and a centipede. Its towering size and eel-like movements completely dominated my field of vision as the creature seemed to float and stretch out into the distance, and it was hands down one of the worst monstrosities I have ever had. opportunity to admire in VR. I also fought an evil starfish that seemed to be made up of galaxies and - my other crush - an intimidating and massive machine that sped along the track, performing curves with bewildering agility and speeding through the air in improbable tunnels.
This mix of metallic materials (like chrome and steel) and wiggling organic materials (like those horrid tentacles that often adorn the track) turns this game into something of a one-of-a-kind horror-techno nightmare. If I had to compare Thumper's tunnels of light and its swirling backgrounds, its closest cousin would undoubtedly be the warp scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey. While visiting the Weird Worlds of Thumper, sometimes you feel like you've reached the limits of the universe and see things you shouldn't see. The veil of mystery hanging over this astonishing world is increased tenfold by the use of VR, and you can roam your gaze freely to appreciate an outpouring of color bursting in the distance, or spouting from the runway.
Unfortunately, the game suffers from a certain lack of visual variety when it comes to distinguishing between the different levels without mentioning the speed or the game mechanics, and from small animation problems (such as these tentacles which overhang the track or the inside a tunnel with a sci-fi look that disappears far too quickly from your field of vision). Everything looks even bigger, awesome and bizarre with VR, and it would have been a good idea to be able to look back to see these imposing shapes slowly disappear, and thus have the illusion of plunging into the abyss rather than that feeling of free fall. . In reality, I rarely had the opportunity to scrutinize these environments in detail during moments of sustained action, as the events unfolding right in front of me were explosive enough to monopolize my attention. Note, however, that each level contains some welcome interludes that allowed me to breathe between two phases of action boosted and offered me the chance to admire the oddities that surrounded me without risking the crash.