I’m a big fan of games which use music for more than just background noise. Lately, a lot of independent games have been utilising music as not just the game’s soundtrack, but as one of the key gameplay elements, with the game’s design taking a strong focus around music itself. One such game, is ‘Rush Bros’ a music-based platformer from XYLA Entertainment. In it, players compete against each other via split screen races where the race tracks react to the game’s electronic soundtrack.
Whilst similar to other music-racers such as Audiosurf, Rush Bros distances itself by presenting foot races through obstacle courses. Instead of randomly-generated levels which are based on the game’s music, Rush Bros contains a set of pre-made levels, with the obstacles behaving accordingly to the game’s music tracks. This means that spike pits will thrust, doors will open and close, and platforms will extend and retract all in time with the music as you race. Unfortunately, Rush Bros just isn’t exciting enough to warrant purchasing the game, and is in fact, riddles with bugs and framerate issues.
Visually, Rush Bros is extremely simple, and looks like a cross between Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet and some elements of Tron Legacy. This may sound interesting but in actuality, just looks lazy. The game looks like a flash game, and not a particularly good one. The character animations are also pretty weak, and despite the characters themselves not having a great variety of moves, it would have been nice to see them reacting to the courses’ obstacles more fluidly.
But enough about visuals, because at the end of the day, Rush Bros is about music, isn’t it? Well, sorry to disappoint you, but the music in Rush Bros is honestly pretty boring. Of course, the music in Rush Bros is like all music, and is open to interpretation. What you might like another person might not be able to tolerate. Like the game’s art style, the music in Rush Bros is sub-par, though not from a lack of trying. Sure, it contains the bare minimum requirements of electronic music, but without that “it” factor that successful electronic artists possess, and with an ambitious title such as Rush Bros, nothing can be left to chance. Even though it is an indie game, the music should have been outsourced or at the very least, tested amongst other musicians or gamers first. There would be countless talented musicians dying to be featured in a video game, and the game would have benefited from a more varied soundtrack.
One of the features constantly mentioned in the news and press releases for Rush Bros is the ability to use your own music library within the game. While this is fun for the first few times, the tracks are usually over before the songs even get past their introductions, as races tend to be quite short. I used a variety of songs from my own personal collection of albums and found it simply wasn’t worth it, though I did find that songs with a constantly changing tempo do add an extra challenge to the game, with the obstacles suddenly increasing then decreasing in speed.
To summarise, I can’t imagine it would have taken long to develop Rush Bros, unless it was a particularly small development team. That being said, it really would have only taken a small amount of time to really give the game some polish, and some variety in the gameplay and in it’s soundtrack. It seems like a wasted opportunity to not have a level with some Dubstep, or music with a slower pace but more bass. There could have been unique obstacles such as wormholes or teleporter traps to capitalise on this, but instead, the game is solely comprised of repetitive tracks with an equally repetitive soundtrack.
Another area the game could have used more development time with is in regards to bugs. Every single time I sit down to play rush Bros the opening animation stutters and suffers from horrible framerate issues. And like an old PC if you try to do too much when the game is loading it causes Rush Bros to crash. I have a PC that is capable of playing the latest games and Rush Bros shouldn’t be particularly taxing on a decent PC, so I can’t understand why changing the screen resolution causes the game to crash; it simply shouldn’t occur.
- Simple and occasionally challenging platforming fun. Fans of N+ will enjoy.
- When it works, extremely accessible.
- Repetitive gameplay and soundtrack
- Sub-par visuals and music.
- Very buggy at times.
- No replayability.
It might look like I hated my time with Rush Bros, and at times, I did. I gave it more than a decent go, and time and time again, I simply didn’t have fun. That being said, I do think that if the game receives some patches and expanded content, it will turn into a more enjoyable game. At the time of writing this review there have been listings online for talented musicians to get their music featured in the next Rush Bros addition. Whether that is a sequel or merely some additional content is yet to be seen, but the game can only benefit from some more variety.