The 5 Best Rhythm Games To Bop Along To

The best rhythm games around are the ones that don’t just have good gameplay, but also really incorporate the music properly. No matter your persuasion, few things are better in life than music. Whether you’re headbanging to heavy metal or taking in a quiet piano melody, no one can resist a good tune. When it comes to gaming, the right soundtrack can make or break an experience. Of course, I’m not arguing that gameplay doesn’t come first, not at all. But between those plastic periphery fests like Rock Band and breaking out those dance mats in Dance Dance Revolution, rhythm games remain popular.

The best rhythm games

It’s no surprise the indie scene’s packed with some of the best rhythm games, sometimes mashing with other genres or letting you use your own music. So, if you’re looking for some new experiences, I’ve got you covered. While I can’t go over everything, I will give special mention to Rez Infinite, Friday Night Funkin, Audiosurf, Beat Hazard, Before the Echo, Crypt of the Necrodancer, Lumines: Remastered, Just Shapes & Beats, Super Hexagon, and Thumper.

With that out of the way, here are my top 5 recommendations.

Sayonara Wild Hearts

It’s been a year since I played Sayonara Wild Hearts and even now, that soundtrack’s stuck in my head. When I catch myself humming “wild hearts never die, wild hearts never die”, I keep telling myself a second playthrough’s in order. Developed by Simogo, Sayonara’s described as a “pop album video game”, telling the story of a heartbroken young woman looking to restore harmony to her world.

Featuring 23 levels and an energetic soundtrack, each level features different gameplay mechanics, seeing us travel automatically through these surrealistic landscapes. Between motorcycle sequences to taking down mechs, there’s a lot going on and though Sayonara’s influences are clear, it perfectly carves out a unique identity. You can find this one on PC, Switch, Mac, iOS, PS4 and Xbox One. 

Amplitude (2016)

If you’re familiar with rhythm games, Harmonix should be a welcome sight. Having developed Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Fuser and Fantasia: Music Evolved, one of their earliest efforts came back in 2003, developing Amplitude for PS2. Controlling a ship across six tracks, each lane represented a musical instrument, seeing players hit the beats in time with the music to activate them and earn points.

Finding critical success, Harmonix kickstarted a remake over a decade later, bringing us Amplitude (2016). Featuring new songs, cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes, and quality-of-life upgrades, not everyone was taken with this new edition but, to me, the core gameplay had me thoroughly hooked. You can find this one on PS3 and PS4.

BPM: Bullets Per Minute

Genre mixes are always interesting to witness, and BPM: Bullets Per Minute’s the most distinctive entry here. Developed by Awe Interactive, it’s best described as a mix between Doom Eternal and Crypt of the Necrodancer, offering an FPS with rhythm and roguelike elements. Playing as a Valkyrie, our goal is to stop the Underworld’s invasion of Asgard, advancing through four procedurally generated dungeons, each split into their own sub-sections. 

Featuring an intense soundtrack that swings between heavy electro-rock to metal, it provides a great alternative for those after something different, and there are some genuine head-bangers within. Just be warned that it’s significantly challenging, though several accessibility options are included to ease this, like an Auto Rhythm mode. Launched last year on PC, you can find it coming to PS4 and Xbox One next month. 

Beat Saber

There’s no point mincing words here, Beat Saber is VR’s ultimate rhythm game. Replacing plastic instruments for a headset and motion controls, there’s a simple premise within. Controlling two differently coloured sabers, players are presented with coloured blocks, slicing them with the corresponding saber whilst dodging various obstacles. Scoring is based on how well-timed these cuts are, building a multiplier up with consecutive hits. 

While there’s a campaign mode within that features different challenge objectives, this is purely a music game, with no story to be found. Selling over 4 million copies, it’s fair to call Beat Saber VR’s killer app, one that keeps growing through new song updates. We can’t ignore the PC modding community either, who brought it to prominence with custom songs and Twitch/YouTube streams. You can find this on Steam, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest and PSVR. 

Pistol Whip

If Beat Saber is VR’s ultimate rhythm game, Pistol Whip certainly comes a close second. Launched in 2019 by Cloudhead Games, this isn’t a shooter in the normal sense. Yes, you wield a gun through an on-rails level, but your objective is to survive and shoot enemies to a musical beat, awarding a higher score for your sense of rhythm.  Imagine a mix between John Wick and Beat Saber, and you’ll have the right idea.

Initially released with 10 different stages, Cloudhead has given it tremendous post-launch support at no additional cost. Alongside several new levels and further gameplay modifiers, they’ve also introduced two campaigns: the futuristic 2089 update and the wild west-themed Smoke & Thunder. Genuinely, it’s one of the best action games I’ve ever played, and you can find this one on Steam, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest and PSVR.