Double Fine Productions made a rhythm game. I'll repeat that: Double Fine Productions, creators of games like Brutal Legend, The Cave and Psychonauts, has create a rhythm game. Its name is Dropchord and it puts your fingers and reflexes to the test in order to create an endless mix of techno music. But does it succeed in its attempt at aural elation? Or does it drop the ball, as well as the chords?
Dropchord is an extremely simple game that gets more and more complex as you play. You're taught everything you need to know within the first few seconds, as even the menu acts as a bit of a tutorial. While the PC and Mac versions of Dropchord take advantage of Leap Motion and allows you to use your fingers in midair to control the action, you'll have to touch your fingers to the screen in order to play Dropchord on iOS devices. To show you how to activate the beam that acts as your onscreen avatar, the menu prompts you to place two fingers on the screen until the beam connects between both points. Voila! You've taken your first steps into the musical madness that is Dropchord.
After you select Play on the menu by hovering the bar over it, you'll be taken into the main portion of the game that's comprised of 10 songs that seamlessly blend together, level by level. Dropchord makes quick work of showing you the ropes. There are several orbs that appear onscreen, within the main circle. Your job is to pass your beam over these orbs to play notes, all while avoiding red X's that sound like scratches when passed over and take off a chunk of your life bar.
If you hit enough orbs without touching an X, you'll be rewarded with a multiplayer bonus. The more segments you complete without messing up, the higher your score will be at the end, which will then be transferred to your life bar. So the secret is to get a combo going that will keep you in the game for a good while.
Every now and then you'll hit a bonus level and the music will crank up as you rake in the points by passing your beam through easily-accessibly orbs. For me, these are the Dropchord's high points and the only reason to cut a swath through the many different obstacles you'll find.
The visuals are also just as striking as the music, but sometimes the screen gets so busy that you might lose track of what you were doing. Still, it's all very cool to take in and sometimes you just want to get lost in what's happening onscreen without having to worry about matching the rhythm and passing your beam through orbs. Just promise us that you won't take any illicit substances before playing Dropchord. Seriously.
Should you make it through Play mode, you can try your hand (or your fingers, as the case may be), at Full Mix mode, which is basically an endless version of the main game. Dropchord's many songs are looped and mixed together to create a positively zen-like experience for those who are willing to seek it out. You can also look up the Leaderboard to see who in the world is kicking your score's ass, so you can jump back in and try to beat them.
Dropchord may not be the perfect rhythm game, but it has enough style and substance to keep you busy for a good while. Some folks might find that they tire of it after a few days, but rhythm fans who like to perfect their games will find something that they can keep coming back to for days on end.