Few things in life are more important than music, and there are even fewer things in life that are more important than music and rhythm video games. Music elicits more emotional responses than any other medium, and it often accomplishes so in just a few minutes. While video games might make us feel bad over time, music is usually far more immediate.
Building video games around music, on the other hand, necessitates a few crucial aspects – gameplay is still paramount, after all, but you wouldn’t play a rhythm game if the soundtrack weren’t up to grade. Consider what would happen if Guitar Hero’s legendary song repertoire were replaced with music you’d never heard of before — it wouldn’t be worth playing.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best rhythm games available, ranging from 2D rogue-likes with a steady beat to lightsaber-wielding VR games to games that can teach you how to play your instrument or allow you to play using your music library – and even a sport where you press one button on the beat in increasingly difficult situations. A little disclaimer: Tetris Impact was considered for the checklist, but it does not appear to focus on rhythm, and thus it is excluded. In any event, Tetris Impact is a game that you should play. Severely.
The following are the top rhythm games for PC:
Saber must be defeated.
Beat Saber has taken virtual reality by storm, helping to get the fledgling technology onto the heads and into the hands of a whole new generation of gamers. Beat Saber is a simple concept: you use two different colored lightsabers (yes, as in Star Wars) to slash blocks of the corresponding color in the way that the game instructs you to – making you feel like a Jedi in full swing (though you do are likely to look a bit foolish to everybody else within the room).
The game’s original soundtrack is fantastic, but the PC version is the only one that allows you to import your tracks – so you can bring Duel of the Fates in if you want to, and why wouldn’t you?
Thumper is a “rhythm violence” sport, making it sound a little hostile. This is due to the soundtrack’s percussion, strong bass drops, and almost terrifying sound effects.
Although we wouldn’t call it oppressive, sending your little beetle protagonist speeding around rails at what appears to be 1,000,000 miles per hour is still a lot of fun, but playing it in VR is arguably even more so.
Whatever way you play, Thumper is the rhythm video games equivalent of a roller coaster that you won’t want to get off of — make sure you use headphones.
The Necrodancer’s Crypt
Crypt of the Necrodancer, a top-down rogue-like with rhythm-based gameplay, may appear to be an unusual match for rhythm-based mechanics, yet creator Brace Yourself Video Games has struck gold with it.
On this dungeon crawl, every movement must be timed to the beat of the music, with completely different adversaries following completely different rhythms. It takes some time to get your head around it, but as an added plus, you can play your entire sport with a dance pad for those who want to work up a sweat.
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock is the third installment in the Guitar Hero series.
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, released in 2007, has a long shelf life thanks to its well-picked soundtrack, including hits from Rage Against The Machine and Slipknot through Kiss and ZZ Prime. While this entry represented a high point in the regular difficulty of the settings, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock still scales well to a wide range of gamers, including easier difficulty levels and slower songs for newbies to get used to before moving on to solo-heavy anthems. The fact that this sport still has a strong Twitch community over a decade after its debut says everything you need to know about its enduring appeal.
There’s no better way to jam out with a group of friends until you’re genuinely in a rock band if you’re willing to put up with the litter of a few plastic devices in your house.
A remastered version of Lumines
Lumines, Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s first appearance on this list, was originally a PSP game remastered in 2018 and released on PC.
Gamers must arrange shapes of various colored blocks that, when gathered together, will likely be erased when a “Time Line” passes across them – with this line set to the musical soundtrack. Clearing rows adds new layers to the sport’s modern music, which is a prize in and of itself.
Lumines: Remastered is that rare puzzle game that is simultaneously amusing, furious, and euphoric – especially as the blocks pile up and you scramble to stay on track.
Audiosurf 2 is the sequel to Audiosurf 1.
Have you ever participated in a rhythm sport and thought to yourself, “Wow, this could be fun if I knew a few of these songs?” If the answer is yes, Audiosurf 2 could be exactly what you’re looking for.
Regardless of the background track, you’ve shot down a track at breakneck speed and given the task of collecting as many pickups as possible without hitting any of the obstacles in your way. Although it isn’t exactly a revolutionary concept, Audiosurf 2 allows you to load your songs and display them in a future motorway of notes. Try not to become too comfortable – there are still obstacles to avoid.
A remastered version of Rocksmith 2014
Rocksmith 2014 Remastered is a re-release of the one-of-a-kind Rocksmith 2014, a sequel to the original Rocksmith game. Nonetheless, are you with us?
Aside from the unwieldy title, Rocksmith 2014 Remastered is a rare find: it’s both entertaining and educational, allowing players to plug in their own devices (guitar and bass) and learn to play various tunes. While Rocksmith doesn’t have the same level of pick-up-and-play accessibility as most rhythm games, you’d be hard-pressed to find a music sport with the same degree of scalability.
When you’ve mastered the game’s content, you can purchase DLC from over a thousand fully licensed tunes, allowing the game to last as long as your burnt fingertips.
Rhythm Physician is the most esoteric of all the rhythm games on this list, with players doling out medicine to patients by, er, hitting the spacebar on the seventh beat of each bar, over and over, despite a barrage of audiovisual distractions.
Rhythm Physician, which bills itself as “the toughest one-button beat game you’ll ever play,” exceeds your expectations in fun and inventive ways, challenging you to push everything out of your mind to focus on the rhythm.
Your display may glitch as you heal patients or that there will be some lag to account for. Your presentation may go blank if you go any higher, requiring you to rely on the beat in your brain. You may need to invest in a metronome for this one.
Rez Infinite is a video game developed by Rez Studios.
Remember the year 2001? No, not the movie, but the twelve months? Rez was released on the original PlayStation, and it featured unique (and never-ending beautiful) wireframe visuals that breathed life into an on-rails shooter/rhythm game mix. After 20 years, PC gamers can finally join the action with the extended Rez Infinite, another excellent rhythm game directed by Tetsuya Mizuguchi.
Each movement in Rez Infinite affects the audio. Using a controller only heightens the impression of synaesthesia — Rez Infinite is all about breaking down the barriers between the senses, and, incredibly, it will even come close to achieving such a lofty goal. Sure, it’s brief and a little pretentious, but it’s also heartbreakingly beautiful from beginning to end.
And that concludes our selection of the top rhythm video games for PC. We like checklist options here at PCGN, so there are plenty more to choose from, like our roundups of the greatest open-world games and the best RPG games on PC. Now, if some bright spark could create a rhythm sport with role-playing mechanics set in a large open environment, we could combine them all into one.