Discover a balanced and nutritious musical main course in our Rhythm Sprout review!
Traditional rhythm games have been around for almost as long as videogames themselves, dating all the way back to the ’70s. But it’s thanks to the indie scene that the genre has recently surged in popularity. Small developers have taken traditional rhythm gameplay and injected creativity and charming style unlike those seen in more popular titles. Indie hits like Thumper, the Bit.Trip series, or even the heavily-memed Trombone Champ are perfect examples of indie rhythm games that are pushing the genre forward.
There’s something for everyone in the rhythm genre!
To add to the mix, Surt Games, a small indie team from Norway, have crafted a delicious rhythm experience with Rhythm Sprout: Sick & Bad Sweets. Combining rhythm-based combat with vibrant visuals and downright delightful dialogue, this is an a-maize-ingly unique rhythm game experience unlike any you’ve played. So it’s time to dig in and find out what the sprout is all about in our Rhythm Sprout review!
Rhythm Sprout Review – Story
Before we get stuck into the story, I think it’s important to mention that Rhythm Sprout is one of the most ridiculous, absurd, and hilarious games ever made. Throughout its campaign, it had me grinning from ear-to-ear almost the entire time, snorting in disbelief, or even laughing at its sheer stupidity on multiple occasions. So how exactly can a story about sentient vegetables achieve such humour? Lettuce find out.
You were the Chosen
Set in the glorious vegetable kingdom, you’ll be introduced to the not-so-glorious monarch, King Brock. (He’s a bit of a jerk, really.) For years, Brock has ruled over all vegetables and maintained peace in the kingdom, but after the disappearance of his daughter, hordes of savage sweets have begun appearing around the kingdom, wreaking havoc. They’re led by none other than the infamous master of all sweets: Sugar Daddy! And so King Brock enlists his most faithful servant, Sprout, to embark on a quest.
It’s perfectly okay to commit genocide if the king says you should.
Part onion, part knight, and part candy-murderer, Rhythm Sprout must venture forth from the Vegetable Kingdom into the colourful and sugary lands beyond. Along the way, he’ll encounter a cast of equally colourful characters, all with ridiculous banter and dialogue that make them seem equal parts charming and ridiculous. It’s a simple and highly amusing story that takes multiple unexpected twists and plays out like an absurd fairy tale.
It’s just a jump to the left.
Every interaction during the game is incredibly lighthearted, as it’s clear the devs have wanted to inject as much humour as possible into the game. So if, like myself, you’re a big fan of silliness, the story of Rhythm Sprout will definitely appeal to your sense of humour.
Rhythm Sprout Review – Gameplay
But enough about the ridiculous story – I think you get the picture. How does the gameplay of Rhythm Sprout differ from any traditional rhythm game? After all, you’re just pressing buttons in time with the music, right? That’s technically the premise of Rhythm Sprout, but it does throw in a few extra ingredients to spice things up.
The game is divided into 30 individual levels, each approximately 5 minutes long and accompanied by a segment of story. Most of the levels are designed like an “automatic runner” whereby Sprout progresses along the stage with each successfully timed beat. Requiring only 3 buttons, this starts off simple, but over the course of the game becomes far more challenging with the addition of complex beats and time signatures.
Scattered throughout the game, you’ll also encounter a number of boss fights against both vicious vegetables and sickening sweets. These are easily the highlight of the game, as they offer the most creative gameplay found in Rhythm Sprout. Take a look at the video below for an example – this dance off gets progressively faster and more difficult as the level progresses. Many of these boss levels will push your rhythm skills to their limits.
It just wouldn’t be a rhythm game without a good old-fashioned dance battle.
Finishing the level with an unbroken combo or a high score will award the player with stars, which are used to unlock bonus stages, new costumes, and weapons for Sprout to wield as he boogies down. But don’t be fooled by its charming aesthetic – this game gets brutally difficult. Even seasoned rhythm game pros will need to repeat levels several times, as missing too many blue notes will result in a game over. Thankfully, the devs have added a “Beginner Mode” if needed, and also “EX Modes” that modify the levels for additional challenge.
Rhythm Sprout Review – Visuals
For a game designed and developed by such a small team, Rhythm Sprout’s visuals are incredibly polished. Every single character, level, and environment carries an exaggerated, highly colourful design that feels perfectly suited to the game’s lighthearted nature. It’s a super pleasing visual aesthetic that absolutely pops when played on an OLED TV.
Capsicum with sunglasses!? They’re as cool as a cucumber.
Our Rhythm Sprout review was played specifically on the PlayStation 5, which runs at 4K60fps consistently in its entirety. There were never any framerate dips and this led to perfectly smooth rhythm gameplay, which is essential when mere milliseconds can easily throw off your beat. The game is also available on Nintendo Switch, so we’re genuinely curious as to how it performs on a less powerful platform.
Rhythm Sprout Review – Audio
This is the main dish of any rhythm game – its music. Thankfully Surt games have delivered a hearty meal that’s a delight for your ears! Composed entirely by Rune Kramer Bjerkass, Surt’s in-house composer, every single track throughout Rhythm Sprout will have you addictively tapping your feet to the beat. The most impressive aspect of the music is the sheer variety of genres represented – from synth, classical, drum and bass, heavy metal, all the way through to… elevator music? Just take a listen.
Every song is vastly different and makes for a thrilling and challenging experience throughout individual levels, specifically due to varying tempos and beats. Characters are all voiced with Banjo-Kazooie or Animal Crossing-style jumbled audio, which also seems to suit the silly nature of the game. My only suggestion would be to play Rhythm Sprout with a good set of headphones, as you’ll want to genuinely feel the bass and become attuned to the rhythm of each track.
Overall, the game’s main story mode will take most players around 2 – 3 hours to complete, which may seem like quite a short experience. The real added incentive to replay levels is to unlock additional stars, as achieving a higher combo or flawless score will award the player with a wide variety of cosmetic unlockables. And if you really want to test yourself, switch on some of the EX Modes to speed up levels, mirror the button presses, or randomise them completely.
The unlockable prequel campaign explores Sprout’s spicy back story.
Once the main story is finished, you can also take on the prequel story and challenge levels. But be warned, these are TOUGH as an unripened rockmelon. I consider myself reasonably skilled at rhythm games and was even crushed in defeat by many of these optional stages. So if you’re a rhythm aficionado, you’ll likely get a kick out of these.
Rhythm Sprout is yet another creative rhythm game that proves the indie scene is truly pushing the genre forward. While it’s simple enough for anyone to pick up and play, the game’s difficulty will put even seasoned pros to the test. Boasting a super sleek visual style and an absurd sense of humour, players hungry for a short and sweet rhythm game will be left satisfied by Rhythm Sprout.
So, why should you play Rhythm Sprout?
- Love games with a silly, mad-cap sense of humour.
- Simple gameplay that offers difficulty for all skill levels.
- Super clean and vibrant vegetable visuals.
- Brilliant soundtrack that represents numerous genres.
But why shouldn’t you play Rhythm Sprout?
- Looking for something to play for hours on end? This one is short and sweet.
- You’re completely lacking any sense of rhythm.
A code for Rhythm Sprout: Sick Beats & Bad Sweets on PlayStation 5 was kindly provided by the publisher for the purpose of our Rhythm Sprout review. If you enjoyed this, be sure to follow us on socials and check out more of our reviews too!