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Invector: Rhythm Galaxy Review

A bumpy ride

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The music rhythm genre was once at the top of the gaming world, but has fallen out of favor over the past decade. Still, there are occasionally games that try to keep the genre going and capture the fun of combining music and rhythmic inputs. Whether it's Nerve, Thumper, or The Collider 2, fans have a bit of choice for their arcade reaction time fix. What they lack, however, is the licensed stuff. Other than big companies such as Activision, few have the funds to approach music labels for their song usage.

Invector: Rhythm Galaxy

Around 2015, Swedish studio Hello There Games got a unique break – they partnered with famous music creator Avicii (Tim Bergling) to create a rhythm game, and were able to use his famous music. The game, Invector, made its debut in 2017, but was later expanded and re-released as Avicii Invector, to honor the late musician's memory and add more of his music to the game. It has seemingly performed well enough to now warrant a sequel. Invector: Rhythm Galaxy is a highly similar experience to its predecessor, and this time around the developers were able to find a partnership with Warner Bros Music group, thus once again being able to have a licensed soundtrack.

Players can begin their music adventure by heading into the solo campaign, where they'll visit a series of planets controlling a spaceship on an overhead map. You progress through the planets in a linear fashion, beating one song at a time and then moving on to the next planet. If you're not immediately interested in that, the game does let you simply play most of the game's 40 included songs right off the bat. It's always nice not making players complete the campaign before letting them dive into the music. Sure, there are a few songs that do get unlocked by beating each planet, but they are just a handful. There is also a thin story that runs through the game, in the form of a few character illustrations talking to each other in text boxes about… pure nonsense, to be honest. It's easily ignored.

The songs themselves certainly benefit from the WB partnership. There is decent variety, with tracks from CharliXCX, Paramore, Charlie Puth, Duran Duran, Royal Blood, Disturbed, and others. Still there are a few lesser known artists as well. For the partnership to be beneficial, WB likely hopes that players will discover new music from their catalog, which is fair game. Still, some of the choices are a bit odd, and don't fit the dance-club rhythmic tracks that you'd expect from a game in this genre.

Invector: Rhythm Galaxy

Playing through the songs involves piloting a small spaceship on an abstract 2D surface – think Audiosurf and the other games in the genre mentioned at the top of the review. But where things get interesting - and challenging - is in the variety of inputs that are possible. Players have to hit inputs on the track with good timing, which involves 3 buttons (A, B, left bumper) and the analog stick to change location within the lane or rotate the whole playing field. While a controller may feel like a natural choice, a keyboard also works fine; for some it may be more natural to hit the spacebar rather than the controller bumper for the track-wide notes. It's a control scheme that's certainly a bit unique, and will take time getting used to – even as someone with hundreds of hours across Guitar Hero and DJ Hero, things got dicey quick.

The good news is that the title is fairly forgiving on your timing, and getting early/late hits still count. There is also a built-in calibration option to ensure there is no audio or visual delay. This is all fortunate because the bad news is the game has a rather strange timing system. Rather than time your inputs to when your ship touches them, they are instead targeted for just in front of the ship; so you have to input a little earlier than natural. This is further confirmed by activating an optional visual indicator. Why the developers chose to do it this way is a mystery, and while this won't affect your progress, it may frustrate high-score chasers. To reach high scores, you need to avoid missing inputs, and try to keep the streak going. There is also a boost meter that builds when you hit specific inputs, and activating it maxes out your multiplier.

There are multiple difficulty levels –on Normal, most experienced players in the genre should be able to make it to the final third of the campaign without too many restarts. An easy option is also available, but it's strangely hidden in the UI and also doesn't allow you to track scores on the online leaderboards. You can change the campaign difficulty anytime if you get stuck, which is good because while you start with just needing to hit 75% of the inputs in a song, the final planets require 90% - sure, the idea is that players will be more skilled, but the songs also get more challenging.

Invector: Rhythm Galaxy

And the challenge doesn't always come solely from lack of practice or skill. The rotations of the playing field often throw you for a loop, and the game is full of background special effects that distract from the intensity of the timing required. While the screen effects look decent, it can be too much. The track itself often changes surface type and even introduces gaps – you don't actually have to do any button presses to get over them, but it still can mess with you. The camera also has a habit of zooming in very close and the speed of your forward movement on the track arbitrarily gets slowed down (not always because the song itself slows), which again really messes with your rhythm. And last but certainly not least, the worst effect is the constant bending and distorting of the track on which you are traversing – think Audiosurf, but worse, because you'll often come across such steep track raises that you cannot see any of the incoming inputs, making it near impossible to hit them.

It's worth noting that the phrase "missed inputs" has been used throughout, not missed notes. That's because the inputs that Invector: Rhythm Galaxy asks players to hit don't always align with the music. Hitting the inputs doesn't make any sound, and it sometimes just doesn't "feel" right, especially in non-EDM tracks. Not in terms of timing/audio delay, but rather - what notes of which instrument are we supposedly hitting here?

So while the game is challenging, and not always for the right reasons, it's still decently fun to play in a chaotic sort of way. You get the occasional respites in the form of sections where you simply fly through the air, aiming for hoops to pass through. Making mistakes degrades your ship's shield, and too many misses in a row result in a game over. It's a commonplace mechanic in music games and works fine here. Those looking for a hardcore challenge can try to complete the difficult optional songs in the campaign without the shield regeneration function – meaning you can only make so many mistakes in songs that often reach 4 minutes.

Invector: Rhythm Galaxy

As expected, the game supports global leaderboards for each song and difficulty level (sans easy). Less expected is that you can also tackle the songs with 2 or 4 players together in local competitive multiplayer to see who can get the best score. The title performs without any issues, and the framerate is steady – obviously important for a rhythm game. Loading in and out of songs is very quick. The visuals are decent; it's an abstract art style with not a lot of detail but it works fine for a music game. The UI has been slightly improved from the previous game, but just like the gameplay, the visuals are quite similar.

Invector: Rhythm Galaxy rides on a wave of enthusiasm and hope thanks to its officially licensed soundtrack, a rarity these days. In gameplay, however, the title barely distinguishes itself from its predecessor, and has a slew of off-beat design choices and overwhelming visual effects that often throw your timing for a loop. If you are intrigued by its unique control scheme or the song selection, give it a go, but there are better options out there.

Our ratings for Invector: Rhythm Galaxy on PC out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
Presentation
70
It's a more polished version of the previous game, with decent visuals and effects.
Gameplay
55
A variety of design choices - from placing the timing in front of your ship, to the extreme bending of the track prohibiting the view - make for a frustrating experience beyond the basic requirements of quick reflexes and timing.
Single Player
65
The increasing difficulty of the campaign comes not only from songs, but also arbitrary passing score limit. The song selection may not be to everyone's taste.
Multiplayer
70
Inclusion of competitive local multiplayer is a pleasant surprise. It's basic, but functional.
Performance
(Show PC Specs)
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5700X
GPU: AMD 6700 XT 12GB
RAM: 16GB DDR4
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
PC Specs

85
No issues noted, works fine with either keyboard or a controller.
Overall
60
Invector: Rhythm Galaxy squanders the rare advantage of an officially licensed soundtrack with some strange design choices and unbalanced difficulty that may repel newcomers, while being far too similar to its predecessor to attract returning fans.
Comments
Invector: Rhythm Galaxy
Invector: Rhythm Galaxy box art Platform:
PC
Our Review of Invector: Rhythm Galaxy
60%
Adequate
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Invector: Rhythm Galaxy is ranked #1710 out of 1982 total reviewed games. It is ranked #91 out of 101 games reviewed in 2023.
1710. Invector: Rhythm Galaxy
Screenshots

Invector: Rhythm Galaxy
7 images added 332 days ago
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