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[Soundfall] Drop the Baddies to the Beat! (Diablo-esque rhythm looter shooter)

AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened OptimistThe Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
edited May 15 in Games and Technology
This game came pretty much out of no where for me. I guess it's not surprising, then, that it isn't getting much hype? I see videos going back quite a few years, so it's been brewing a bit...

Which is a shame... it has a LOT going for it. Not the least of which is a kickass soundtrack.



What is Soundfall?

Soundfall is a Diablo-esque dual-stick looter-shooter, with a layer of Crypt of the Necrodancer on top. It is developed by Drastic Games, and published by Noodlecake. It can be played 1-4 players.

The basic premise is simple: You load a level, start blasting enemies, and try to make it to the end of the level.

But the rub is: Each level is patterned off of a song! As is.. well.. everything. You have a beat meter, and your weapon does massively more damage if you attack on the beat rather than the off-beat. Other abilities, such as your primary weapon, your dashes, your ultimates, etc... also are boosted if you attack on the beat. If you are off-beat, though, the weapon will basically fizzle - and eventually jam up.

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What's the Story?

Well.. It's an Isekai. I think that's the hot term for it?

Anyways. You play as Melody - an aspiring musician who works as a barista. Your big break is coming up... but suddenly, you get sucked into the world of Symphonia, where all music originates from! This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for your real-world obligations... But it turns out, more is going on. See, the Discordians are trying to disrupt the new music and stop it from entering the world! So you must fight back. You are aided on your journey by other travellers through Symphonia, that have their own personalities and abilities.

Our Heroes:
I personally enjoyed discovering them as I went, so I'll spoil the details:

Melody:
ZcHpZ2ol.jpg

Our Protagonist, as mentioned. She wields an enormous sword, that I think is either a Treble Clef or a microphone. I haven't figured out which yet.

She lacks self-confidence in her ability to create music and to lead.

Her primary is a 3-slash attack, and her ultimate is a spinning rush blade.

Jaxon:
IlG4yNql.jpg

A metalhead, through and through. He uses an Axe... his guitar, naturally. All about the heavy beats.

He's portrayed as fairly dumb, but in reality he's just carefree.

His primary is a charged axe swing that dashes forward, and his ultimate is a stage dive that is a giant belly flop onto enemies.

Lydia:
RGoIO8rl.jpg

A classical musician, who does not like modern music AT ALL. Keep synths and pop away from her. Her weapon is her cello, turned into a bow of long range kick-assitude.

She is fairly aloof, and a loner.

Her primary is her bow, which does a charged attack that can pierce foes. Her ultimate is a long-range volley that hits a wide area.

Brite:
uFbv6mLl.jpg

Melody's little sister. She is, throw and through, a punk rocker. She is also a drummer, so it makes sense her weapon is her drums... which becomes a giant shield.

Brite has a habit of running ahead, charging into situations without thinking about the consequences. She has a streak of wanting to protect people in her.

Her primary has the longest charge of any character. When she uses her shield, she'll first charge forward with an uppercut, then hold out her shield to protect against projectiles. Her Ultimate unleashes an area-effect shield that knocks enemies away while damaging them.

Ky:
wht6Azbl.jpg

Ky is a hell of a DJ. He's all about mixing synths and looking for that perfect sample, that perfect sound. His weapon is his turnstyle... turned into a Scythe.

Nothing will stop him from finding what he wants. If he sets his mind on it, everything falls by the wayside.

His primary is the scythe, which is much quicker than Melody's sword but hits a smaller area. It does pull enemies in towards him, and the third swing will toss the enemies over him and slam them into the ground. His ultimate is tossing his scythe out like a spinning blade of death... but it leaves him EXTREMELY vulnerable.

Gameplay

In essence, you pick a level that you want to play through. based on the XP you have gathered, you play on different difficulty levels. These REALLY affect how hard the game is and how much they throw at you.

Your main weapons are Beat Blasters, various guns that shoot to the beat. Some are single-shot, some are full auto, some fire in a wide spread.

Controls have a few options. You can play the game as a dual-stick shooter , where you move and aim and then use your trigger or face buttons to shoot on the beat. Or you can drop the right-stick and have the auto-aim just lock onto enemies. The game also supports KBAM but I haven't tried playing it that way.

Many things in the game have an "Element," which acts as a weapons triangle like from Fire Emblem:
Bolero is red and represents fire and drums. Enemies hit with it will burn with a DoT effect. Strong versus Minuet, weak vs. Serenade.
Minuet is green and represents life or forest(?) and strings. Enemies hit with it will have their life drained, which heals you. Strong versus Serenade, weak vs. Bolero.
Serenade is blue and represents ice/water and honestly I'm not sure what flavor of instrument. Enemies hit with it will be slowed. Strong versus Bolero, weak vs. Minuet.
Requiem is yellow and represents lightning/light and again not 100% sure on the music type. Enemies hit will have electricity chain off of them. Directly opposes Nocturne.
Nocturne is purple and represents the lack of music / rest measures. Enemies hit will get a timer debuff, and after the timer ends they will explode damage to anything nearby. Directly opposes Requiem.

Each character has 5 equipment slots: Two Beat Blasters that you can switch between during the level, an armor / dash slot, a slot for your primary weapon strength/abilities, and a slot for your "overcharge" ultimate attacks. Blasters and armors can be shared by any character, the others are unique. There are also 4 emote slots.

Equipment is rated on 5 tiers: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, and Legendary. White, green, Blue, Purple, Orange. Pretty typical stuff.

You get better equipment by playing on harder difficulties and by completing longer combo chains.

At the end of every level you get some loot, based on how you did:
Bronze is to beat the level.
Silver is to beat the level before the song loops once. (the song will have a "par" meter on it that will show how much the section you are in should take to complete on average.)
Gold is to beat the level either without dropping your combo at any point during it (which means not getting hit or screwing up timing for too long), OR by doing all your actions on-beat through the entire level.
Platinum is the have a full combo AND all actions on-beat. I've yet to do this.

You also have gold to help you buy better equipment, which you get based on your combo, enemy killing abilities, and breaking down loot you get.

Multiplayer
I haven't done this yet, but this game features both couch co-op and online multiplayer. I suspect things scale to pretty hectic levels when you have 4 players going at things!

The Soundtrack

First off, the soundtrack is excellent. Obviously the BPM of the song affects how fast a level goes. But it also dictates the kind of equipment you find, the biome you fight in, what elements show up... It's all based on the music. And I swear, some levels even have tempo changes where the music gets faster or slower, which really can throw you off on your first playthrough!

You play through roughly 10 songs per biome in the campaign, with a bunch of other songs scattered around as optional. ALL songs in the soundtrack are available to play in freeplay from the start.

But... it also supports importing music! That's right. Because it's all procedural generated, you can just drop your music in. And if it doesn't line up right, the developer does allow you to do custom beat mapping if you are willing to get into Audacity a bit:




So where can I play this?

Pretty much anywhere you want. Switch, Steam, PS4/5, Xbox X|S (and One but they don't have it on their splash pages).

It's $30, which I think is a bit high.. but with it being launch week, a lot of places have it $5 off. And frankly, I could see it going quite a while.

I want to see more of the gameplay!

With it only recently launching, there isn't a TON out there... but I really hope people don't sleep on this.


Developer Deep Dive:


First 40 minutes on the Switch - no commentary, but does go through the intro to the campaign:



The OST (songs that were composed specifically for this game and play as part of the campaign):


A twitch streamer I have not personally heard of playing through their channel's theme song on a biome I haven't gotten to. Based on the damage/intensity, this is still pretty low level.



So! Join us in Symphonia, make all sorts of music puns, and get into the groove!

He/Him
Athenor on
Fencingsax

Posts

  • AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened Optimist The Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
    edited May 14
    As I've said elsewhere.. I think this is one of the only times I've instantly bought a game that dropped the day I learned about it. Looking through things, it appears that it's been in development for a while on Fig, and early builds were shown at other trade shows. But still.. new to me!

    It's not perfect. I wish they did a better job of explaining the UI. When you are slamming through levels in the campaign, you can really see the reused level blocks pretty easily. And the jump from Medium to Challenging difficulty is a bit steep! Also the first boss I fought just.. took... FOREVER. Complete bullet sponge. But I really am enjoying it.

    I think they made some wise music choices in the first area to really get you into things, and then the more complex music starts appearing halfway through. This is a nice touch to get you used to things.

    The style on display is just wicked.


    ... I don't know if I'll ever play it multiplayer. The levels are so short, I'd assume you would want to have a discord lobby or something else going on. I do like the touch that once you've unlocked the end, it "locks in" your completion level so that you can just screw around from there - either using emotes or going back to get chests you may have missed.

    Lydia is my favorite character so far. :) I would use Brite more often, but that slow primary on the shield just... hurts.

    Athenor on
    He/Him
  • eMoandereMoander Registered User regular
    edited May 15
    Not many reviews out, but what is there is pretty positive, so you've convinced me I'm in. Downloading to Xbox now... any word on crossplay or cross-saves?

    Edit:
    Early impressions are that this is pretty awesome but I suck at finding the beat. After failing the first level like four times in a row, the game finally took pity on me and dropped a blue quarterizer that heals on hit and also does more damage on offbeat shots. I’m trying not to take it too personally, but I’m happy to be advancing at least!

    First song slaps by the way; almost makes up for how many times I had to repeat it lol

    eMoander on
    Xbox: Travesty 0214 Switch: 3304-2356-9421 Genshin Impact: 605683619 Battlenet: Travesty#1822 Diablo Immortal: Travesty (Pandemonium)
  • AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened Optimist The Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
    As far as I can tell, there's no cross-play or cross-save mentioned anywhere. Which is a shame, but I also kind of expect that from a smaller developer? Maybe if it catches fire they could add it.

    I will say that the beat tolerance is REALLY tight, and the calibration visualizer isn't the most precise. So if you are having issues with the beat, try adjusting that. There's also an accessibility option to turn on a metronome tick at all times. Finally, if you are going full dual-stick you have to use the triggers, which will activate around 10% pull (if that). You can use the face buttons if you want a more digital input.

    He/Him
  • eMoandereMoander Registered User regular
    Eh, I’m fine accepting that I just don’t have much rhythm naturally.

    I like that the different weapons have very different feels and different secondary effects by damage type. Got a nocturne repeater that has been doing some serious work. In theory the rock paper scissors on the damage types and resists makes sense, but I can’t figure out how to tell what types the enemies are? Maybe I’m just too early in the game for it to matter. Just unlocked the third zone and the step up in intensity is no joke.

    I will say that spending gold for upgrades seems like a really good idea. My usual inclination is to hoard gold forever, presumably because I might need it later, but here it provides some extremely meaningful upgrades since it seems like actual item drops are fairly rare (likely tied to my sucking and getting poor rewards, but still!)

    Xbox: Travesty 0214 Switch: 3304-2356-9421 Genshin Impact: 605683619 Battlenet: Travesty#1822 Diablo Immortal: Travesty (Pandemonium)
  • AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened Optimist The Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
    eMoander wrote: »
    Eh, I’m fine accepting that I just don’t have much rhythm naturally.

    I like that the different weapons have very different feels and different secondary effects by damage type. Got a nocturne repeater that has been doing some serious work. In theory the rock paper scissors on the damage types and resists makes sense, but I can’t figure out how to tell what types the enemies are? Maybe I’m just too early in the game for it to matter. Just unlocked the third zone and the step up in intensity is no joke.

    I will say that spending gold for upgrades seems like a really good idea. My usual inclination is to hoard gold forever, presumably because I might need it later, but here it provides some extremely meaningful upgrades since it seems like actual item drops are fairly rare (likely tied to my sucking and getting poor rewards, but still!)

    You're still too early to see elemental enemies. Anything that's not bright pink has some kind of elemental nature to it.

    And yeah. Actual item drops at the end of a level are tied to how you do. I'd highly recommend taking the time to explore the levels if you aren't beating things within the first loop (which should boost the quality of gear).

    Don't hoard gold, there's no reason to that I can tell. :)

    He/Him
  • AvalonGuardAvalonGuard Registered User regular
    I guess my questions are does the game have sticking power? Depth? How does it actually feel to play? If I want some good ARPG action I have many top tier choices, and for music/rhythm games as well. I think it's certainly a cool idea, though, and if they have a good breadth of music that will certainly give it some inherent worth.

  • eMoandereMoander Registered User regular
    I need to stop relying on minuet so much, it ingraines bad habits and really drops my scores. Got a good nocturne aoe weapon and that is much more fun (and I actually work to keep my chain up). Also didn’t help that the music genres in the third and fourth world weren’t that great imo, but fifth world is back in my sweet spot.

    Xbox: Travesty 0214 Switch: 3304-2356-9421 Genshin Impact: 605683619 Battlenet: Travesty#1822 Diablo Immortal: Travesty (Pandemonium)
    Athenor
  • AvalonGuardAvalonGuard Registered User regular
    I guess my questions are does the game have sticking power? Depth? How does it actually feel to play? If I want some good ARPG action I have many top tier choices, and for music/rhythm games as well. I think it's certainly a cool idea, though, and if they have a good breadth of music that will certainly give it some inherent worth.

    Despite my misgivings I went ahead and bought in. I like it! The Switch version being 30fps was expected but still not optimal; might pick up a better version down the line but hey, portability is worth the downgrade.

    Anyone else have trouble timing the melee attacks? I can shoot reliably m beat but there’s something about the feel of the sword that throws me off.

  • AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened Optimist The Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
    Sorry, got busy the last few days and wasn't able to reply.

    Yes, I have the EXACT same issue. The timing on the sword feels off compared to other weapons. I went to try to re-calibrate for it and didn't exactly get far, so I reverted back to default and just hit the button early... or use other characters who have nicer timing windows. :)

    He/Him
  • AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened Optimist The Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
    New patch! Lots of notes in this one:
    Added a restart level option to the pause menu when playing in single player or local co-op
    Fixed issue that could cause long stalls in online multiplayer and Cityscape levels
    Fixed manual beat map label loading and UI display for songs imported from the same windows drive letter as the game installation directory
    Added an Imported Songs category to the top of the Biome list in Free Play. They will also be listed in the appropriate biome
    Fixed metadata parsing for some MP3s with non-English titles and correctly enable Arabic font for imported songs
    Added a confirmation prompt when trying to remove imported songs and correctly update the Free Play menu UI
    Added language select to the display options shown before starting a new game. It is also accessible from the main options page in the menu
    Added a depth of field toggle to the video options
    Changed FOV scaling to use the window height instead of width, this correctly zooms the camera for ultrawide resolutions like 21:9
    Made Intensity on the World Map only reset to the highlighted location’s default if the player hasn't adjusted it during that session, until they return to the Overworld map
    Minor balance adjustments based on player feedback
    Made health pickups more frequent
    Slight increase to early game health
    Made equipment drop rarity a bit more generous, but pushed Legendary chance down a bit in early and mid levels
    Reduced Banshee boss health
    Fixed a bug that was preventing the final boss from using some of his attacks
    Fixed auto-aim not applying to enemies on pressure plates
    Fixed a spot in Cityscape where players could fall out-of-world
    Fixed an enemy spawn delay that was happening in some Crypt levels
    Fixed enemies occasionally spawning inside of collision in Depths
    Fixed a spot near Forest exit doorways where players could get stuck
    Made the metronome sound option default to "After no recent on beat input" for new players
    Prevent the metronome sound from playing during dialogue and cutscenes
    Fixed incorrect BPM being displayed in the menus for "Toss the Salt"

    NOTE: Some of the new options are missing translations, which will be fixed in a future update

    Oh man, that Banshee health reduction is so needed. That was my biggest complaint about the fight - I figured it out, and then just had to tank her down. Adjusting the health and drop rates is nice too. I need to find a legendary. >.<

    He/Him
    eMoander
  • AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened Optimist The Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
    Jeez.

    Okay, I made it to the last biome... and things suddenly ramped the HELL up. Like, WTF levels.

    it wasn't until I was 3 songs in - a song I died to 3-4 times and eventually had to slow down and complete at around 2 1/2 loops, that I noticed:

    I had just crossed over the difficulty threshold. So naturally rather than being pretty overleveled, I was now severely underleveled for this challenge. Whelp! gonna fix that tomorrow.

    He/Him
  • eMoandereMoander Registered User regular
    Yeah, buffing drop quality would be great so I’m not so reliant on the store. Sucks to just finish with whites and crappy greens 90% of the runs. I’d like to be able to try different guns/builds rather than just running my highest number all the time. More health drops to reduce the temptation to rely solely on minuet also sounds great. I hope they are planning on more songs as DLC but they’d be idiots not to.

    Xbox: Travesty 0214 Switch: 3304-2356-9421 Genshin Impact: 605683619 Battlenet: Travesty#1822 Diablo Immortal: Travesty (Pandemonium)
  • AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened Optimist The Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
    I think it depends on how well it does. No numbers, obviously, but I have a feeling this game isn't generating a lot of buzz (Despite my desire for it to). I wonder if anyone's streaming it. I did see there was a signup for a streamer partnership on their website, so maybe that helps with licensing?

    He/Him
    eMoander
  • BursarBursar Hee Noooo! PDX areaRegistered User regular
    Extra Credits did a 5-hour stream a couple of days ago.

    GNU Terry Pratchett
    3DS FC: 0810-0331-1324 | PSN: Wstfgl | GamerTag: An Evil Plan | Battle.net: FallenIdle#1970
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    Athenor
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