LOUD On Planet X is a rhythm game that started life as a Kickstarter project by developer Pop Sandbox, and fortunately managed to pass its funding goal. The game mixes rhythm with lane defence where you have to stop aliens from invading the stage, which features various acts that have been abducted from Earth. These bands and acts include globally known artists like CHVRCHES, HEALTH, and Tegan & Sara as well as smaller but established artists like Lights, Purity Ring, and Shad.
A good rhythm game needs good music to make it worthwhile, and LOUD On Planet X has plenty of that. It does help though if you’re a fan of indie, alternative, and rap music because these are the genres that are represented across the 28 songs on offer in the game. The majority of the music has made me seek out more by the artists involved, though there were a couple of weak songs in the mix. However that’s more down to personal taste than anything wrong with the songs themselves.
The way that LOUD On Planet X works is by having four lanes across which aliens move. On the left hand side is the stage with a speaker in each lane. These speakers fire blasts at the aliens to destroy them, but will only fire if you tap the corresponding button in time to the beat. To help with the timing a pink border pulses around the screen when the time is right, though it doesn’t always feel accurate.
In some songs like Stylin’ by Shad (featuring Saukrates) and Up We Go by LIGHTS the beat is really easy to follow regardless of difficulty, and the pink border flash isn’t really required. On songs like Bodyache by Purity Ring and Closer by Tegan & Sara the beat sounds like it should be easy enough to follow, but at certain moments the game would judge a button press as being too early or too late despite being hit at the same time as the border appearing. This can mean all the difference between destroying an alien or having a speaker get damaged.
The aliens’ aim is to destroy the speakers which are firing on them, which they do by bashing into them. Should a speaker break you can fix it by holding its related button down, but if you fail to do that and it gets hit again then you fail. To help there are different power ups that appear that can help against the aliens, like a bouncer that pushes them back or fan cameras which blind and momentarily stop them.
The thing with these power ups is that they don’t feel vital in most of the songs. On my easy playthrough I didn’t use them once, while on the normal run I used them very sparingly. They only seem to matter on the hard mode, but even then they feel inadequate compared to the number of aliens that appear on screen at once.
There is one powerful power up that can clear the screen of enemies and that is LOUD. The Loud meter fills up as you score points, and once it does you just need to press R2 & L2 to clear the lanes. Again it is only really required on some of the tougher normal difficulty songs and hard mode, and since you have to work for it using Loud is one of the areas where you have to think tactically.
The aliens have different abilities as well. For example The Splitter will turn into two smaller aliens while the Berserker will charge after taking a hit. Each alien type has a different number of eyes too and those indicate how many hits they will take before being destroyed. The aliens spawn rate, and speed, rests on the beat of the song, with more aliens spawning during choruses. The faster a song, like Wet Blanket by METZ, the quicker the aliens will move towards the stage. The fast beat also helps you because you’ll likely get 100% hits on such a song.
This can feel a bit like that the beat doesn’t always matter though, with some hits landing even if it feels off from the rhythm of a song. LOUD On Planet X does advise you play with headphones as well, and after experiencing the game with and without them I would agree. You feel a lot more in tune when there are no other distractions, which helps rack up the points and get the three star rating. I also recommend starting on easy to get to grips with the game before moving on to normal.
LOUD On Planet X’s art style appears basic and minimal but it works well with the overall atmosphere of the game. It can get colourful when you’re doing well but it doesn’t overload you, and the visuals work well in tandem with the music. The bands are represented with minimalist 2d character figures which are varied enough to differentiate between the groups.
LOUD On Planet X is a good rhythm game with a great track listing, but some of the issues within do need fixing. While the beat and button presses do match up in the majority of songs there are some where it all feels out of sync and disjointed. If they’re out of sync then the whole point of the rhythm game is defeated. A longer tutorial to explain parts of the game would also be beneficial too, instead of having tips appear on loading screens. The game won’t reach Guitar Hero levels of success, but if you’re looking for a quick rhythm game fix then LOUD On Planet X may be for you.
Version tested: PS4