ByMarcus O'Shea, writer at
Resident RPG nerd and SoulsBorne fanatic. Can be spotted by their floofy hair.
Marcus O'Shea

There's very few genres as addictive as the rhythm game. It's something about the beat, the feeling of getting into the zone and hitting every note perfectly that creates a unique experience you can't quite find elsewhere in . It feels like the most perfect fusion of the inseparable bond between video games and music.

The 5 Best Rhythm Games (Besides The Obvious Ones)

We're all well acquainted with and and anyone who isn't like 12 has at least seen a picture of a Dance Dance Revolution machine. So rather than bore you with the obvious choices, here's 5 rhythm games you might not have tried or heard of.

1. 'Crypt of the Necrodancer'

  • Developer: Brace Yourself Games
  • Publisher: Klei Entertainment
  • Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems

Crypt of the Necrodancer is one of those genius ideas you wish you'd thought of. Take the basics of a rhythm gameplay and marry it to mechanics and rogue-like level design and you've got one of the most original titles in years.

The gameplay at its core is a simple isometric rogue-like RPG. It's got all the usual features like randomly generated dungeons and perma-death but with one major difference. You can only take actions to the beat of the music. This small, but important alteration changes the fundamental nature of Crypt of the Necrodancer's gameplay to such a huge degree, turning a somewhat staid genre into a pulse-pounding good time.

The music was all composed for the game by Danny Baranowsky and it's pretty awesome. If you're a fan of '80s synthwave music such as Perturbator, Profondo Delle Tenebre and the soundtracks to like every '80s action and horror movie, you'll love this game's music.

Try this if... You want to kill an ogre to the sick beats of '80s synth revival.

2. 'Thumper'

  • Developer: Drool
  • Publisher: Drool
  • Platforms: PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows

Thumper describes itself as a "rhythm violence" game and somehow, that actually feels accurate. The goal of the game is to guide a glowing, chrome beetle through a psychedelic environment that looks like what the director of Hackers imagined cyberspace to be. As you do so, you must avoid threats and hit pads to the mind-expanding primal beat in order to destroy flying tentacled demonic geometry.

No, I did not make any of that up.

Between the visuals, the adrenaline rush of speed and the fact that you can play it in VR, Thumper may be the closest thing to a hallucinogenic drug trip that you can experience without actually taking drugs. That may not sound like a recommendation to some of you, but it totally is.

Try this if... You can't reach your usual LSD dealer at the moment.

3. 'Audiosurf 2'

  • Developers: Dylan Fitterer, Audiosurf, LLC.
  • Publishers: Valve Corporation, Ascaron
  • Platform: Microsoft Windows

Sometime around 2008, the driver of a rocket car from Burnout lost control, crashed through the walls of the game and landed in a copy of Guitar Hero. From the fiery ashes of that calamity Audiosurf was born.

You control a rocket powered vehicle traveling down a track at several hundred miles an hour and must collect colored blocks while avoiding the obstacle blocks that will break your streak. The more blocks you collect in combo, the better your combo multiplier and the higher your score at the end—it's pretty simple, but incredibly addictive.

What sets Audiosurf 2 apart from most other rhythm games is that you can use your own music library as the soundtrack to the game. Not only does this let you experience your favorite songs in a whole new way, but it lets you set your own difficulty by choosing whether you use a fast-paced techno hit or something a bit more spaced out.

Try this if... You want to drive a rocket car through your secret stash of the best hits of The Spice Girls.

4. 'Patapon'

  • Developers: Pyramid, SCE Japan Studio
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Platforms: PSP, PSVita

If I had to pick a game that was simply the oddest on this list, it'd have to be Patapon (though Thumper would definitely be a contender). This PSP/Vita series has a simple, but very unique gameplay premise. You control a tribal group of bizarre-looking cartoon people and must order them to march, defend, attack and take other actions via 'drumming' in time with the beat. Each level involves a series of obstacles and enemies to overcome and there's even boss battles against gigantic creatures.

Along the way you can also upgrade your tribe, giving them new abilities, equipment and leveling up their skills. You can also recruit new members of the tribe with resources gained from previous missions. There's three games in the series, and all three are available on PSN to check out.

Try this if... You want to take your rhythm on the go.

5. 'PaRappa The Rapper 2'

  • Developers: Sony Interactive Entertainment, NanaOn-Sha
  • Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 2

It's the fifteenth anniversary US release of one of the most wonderfully charming rhythm games ever this month, so there was no way it was going to be left off this list. PaRappa The Rapper 2 is the sequel (duh) to the original PaRappa The Rapper, a rap rhythm game about a two dimensional cartoon dog who is in love with a flower and solves all his problems through rap.

Again, I'm not making this up.

The gameplay is fairly simple compared to some of the other games on this list, but it's worth checking out just for the unique aesthetics and awesome old-school funk stylings of the soundtrack.

Try this if... You think helping a ghost make burgers through the power of rap sounds like a good time.

What are your favorite rhythm games? Got any you'd like to see on the list? Let me know in the comments!


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