Rhythm games are having a bit of a resurgence again, especially in the indie scene, and I’m all for it. It’s hard to find a title that hits all the right notes, though. A good rhythm should ease you into its mechanics and provide enough audio and visual indicators with variety in its tracks. In our Rhythm Sprout review, we take a look at SURT’s musical title featuring an Onion Knight.
Premise and Dialogue
Unlike a lot of gameplay-focused rhythm titles, Rhythm Sprout actually has a story that is set in the Vegetable Kingdom, with its vegetable inhabitants. You play as the titular Sprout, who the King has tasked to take down “King Sugar Daddy”. The game wastes no time in establishing its comedic tone, with tons of pop-culture references, visual gags, and witty dialogue.
Each level starts with one of these story sections where you talk to some new character, and it’s essentially a bit that can be about you, themselves or the current place you’re in. I liked some of these, and I think the vegetable humor works, but it’s when they go outside of it and make jokes about real-world stuff like YouTube videos that I’m a bit taken out by it. I would’ve liked it if they used their premise a bit more to elevate the comedy.
There’s one section where you go to this magical place where everything looks wholesome and relaxing, but everywhere you look, there’s something sinister going on, like how orange juice was made by….juicing oranges, which in the context of this world is all the more hilarious, and sadistic if you think about it.
Either way, it’s nice that the story exists, and I liked most of the visual gags, but it doesn’t always work for me. Thankfully, you only need to see these story segments of the level once, so if the humor doesn’t gel with you, it’s not a huge problem.
Rhythm Sprout’s gameplay isn’t all that complicated to understand, which works in its favor. In each level, you’re essentially walking towards the finish line while notes appear on the ground, and you have to hit the right ones to keep walking and maintain your combo.
It’s a lot of fun with responsive controls and mechanics that are easy to understand. The calibration does a good job of making sure your inputs are read properly. There’s enough variety in tracks that almost every level felt different, especially when played in succession. Things start to pick up pretty quickly, ramping up the challenge with each level.. Even the first actual boss might take you a few tries to defeat. You’re allowed to skip the directional notes, but the actual blue note has to be played. This lets you dodge an incoming attack.
You’re encouraged to replay levels, and I think most of these have an appropriate length and don’t go on for too long. I do wish that restarting a level was a bit faster, though. There are 30 levels to go through, with different modifiers for each, which does increase the replayability quite a bit.
Controls and Visuals Cues
It’s essentially three buttons, which are mapped to directional keys or on the different parts of your controller. I tried every control scheme, but I was most comfortable with a combination of two keyboard presets. Basically, I used the left and right arrow keys for the pink and yellow notes, while “G”, for the blue note. Having all three keys next to each other made it a bit difficult for me because of a few issues.
First, the colors of each note are a bit dull, in my opinion, and can be a bit hard to really read in levels that have a lighter color scheme. I think an additional visual property for these, like the actual mapped key displayed, could’ve been a bit more prominent and would’ve made things easier to digest visually.
Additionally, a bit more space between the notes would’ve gone a long way to distinguish them, sort of like how it’s done in Guitar Hero. Even though those are also represented by colors, every note is in its own line, so you’re always certain which one to hit. Here, each note overlapping itself can be a bit hard to do read, especially when you’re hitting those in succession.
I do wish we could map the controls to the mouse as well. This additional input option would’ve made the title an even more comfortable experience.
Rhythm Sprout looks really nice, and I think the presentation is a highlight. The visuals remind me a lot of the Overcooked titles, and the characters here are expressive and pretty cute. Levels have a lot of variation, too, like beaches, jungles, towns, and snow-filled towns. I do wish the perspective allowed me to look at things a bit more attentively, though, because I’m mostly looking at incoming notes rather than the environments.
The more you play, the more customization items you’ll unlock for the sprout, like their outfit and weapons. It’s a nice incentive to keep playing and doing challenges.
Overall though, I had a fun time with this game, and the additional EX levels will keep me busy for a while. The game has enough content to entertain you for hours, with tons of memorable music in a bunch of different genres. Controls are responsive, though I wish there was more refinement in how the game handles its visual cues. The humor doesn’t always land, but there are enough visual gags here to get a laugh out of you. It’s easy to learn and hard to master, with plenty of challenging bosses to dance with.
What did you think of our Rhythm Sprout Review? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
This review is based on the PC version of Rhythm Sprout. The key was provided by Stride PR and tinyBuild.