Thumper is described from its creator as a “rhythm violence” game. While I was originally put off by its single button rhythm gameplay, the game unfolds and deepens in ways that I never thought were possible from first glance. There were vistas I took in from its seemingly simplistic railway of bright neon lights. There was substance in the animation and music which ultimately made the game one of the most satisfying games I’ve played for the PSVR.
No exclusive features are to be had in the VR mode that’s included in the game. Thumper’s functionality with PSVR is only contributing towards aesthetics. One could argue that the game, being in 3D, has visuals that bring you in with a more accurate feeling of the course. However, there isn’t any adherent differences in terms of gameplay apart from the better realization of oncoming obstacles. I can’t downplay how simply beautiful the game is in VR, though, and I can’t imagine playing the game in any other way.
However, when describing those aesthetics there’s a lot of it that is inherent to its intensity. You control a beetle that’s sliding down a metallic (and colorful) chute. In VR you feel as if you’re actually moving along with the beetle and due to the intensity, it locks your brain down and helps you focus with the hard-to-master gameplay. The music juxtaposes the visuals in Thumper, creating an assault on the senses with its neon fever dream. That isn’t to say that the game is in any way bad when playing on just the regular PS4, it’ll just be at the cost of something harder and not as immersive.
However, Thumper encourages you to not completely rely on your visuals. By the time you’re trying to go for a perfect run in each area, you’re going to want to be able to anticipate the beats ahead of time. The rhythm sounds are almost akin to Simon Says as eventually you’ll hear in patterns, the beat as how you’re supposed to perform it. In no way does Thumper feel frustrating, but you’ll always feel as if you have room for improvement.
Thumper is one of the more lengthy games for the PSVR. As its gameplay evolves with different obstacles, there’s a feeling of gradual progression that stays consistent throughout the 10 hours it took me to beat the game. Thumper only uses one face button (and eventually one analog stick), but it uses the components in its limited toolbox to deliver gameplay techniques in piecemeal.
Each area has a well designed boss that requires you to attack it with the different beats. I even retried areas multiple times in a row to make sure I could get a perfect run. Areas are mostly linear (as you’re running on a straight path at blazing speeds), so there isn’t much variation, but I also was disappointed to see that the bosses are almost visually identical with each incarnation.
I still haven’t obtained my platinum in Thumper (as playing in short-bursts is the only way I’m able to play the game without getting paranoid), but I assume that it would take around 15 more hours to obtain everything there is. There’s also a pretty competitive leaderboard, so there’s a lot of value in the terms of longevity.
Thumper is one of the considerably longer games on the PSVR, its intricacies and teaching tools make for one of my favorite rhythm experiences to date. While it may seem shallow with preconceived notions, when getting into the meat of the game there’s something that is ultimately fulfilling. With a library that’s mostly full of “experiences,” the PSVR gains a remarkably substantial piece of line-up with Thumper.