If you’ve ever played rhythm games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, I may have a game that you will want to check out. This music rhythm game has you playing as Astrid, a teenage girl who is worried about making something of herself; she loves music and has dreams of playing the guitar and being on stage. The thing is, she doesn’t have a guitar, so at first, she pretends to play the guitar using a broom. A bulletin board labelled “My Road to Fame” and polaroid photos that don’t develop until you complete that song will lead you through all of the milestone moments on Astrid’s quest to become a star.
When the game starts, like Astrid, your first guitar is a broom; this song playthrough acts as a tutorial to show you how to successfully hit the notes. Each side of the screen has three different lines coming from the top, middle, and bottom sides of the screen on both the left and right-hand sides. These six bars resemble a guitar's fretboard, and the notes you have to “catch” are spinning stars coming towards Astrid, who is standing in the middle. To successfully play the note, you need to press the button that is assigned to each of the fretboards: on the left-hand side of your controller using the D-pad, up is for the top bar, left is for the middle, and down is for the bottom line, for the right side of the screen your letter buttons will be used like the D-pad hitting the button that is closest to the oncoming star. If your timing is totally off, you will miss the note, and you will get a red X that is shown at the top of the screen, get three red Xs, and you will have to attempt that song again.
Besides just needing to have good timing when you hit, different kinds of notes will require different actions. Purple stars with a long tail are Whammy Notes; you hold down the button for the duration of that line and, at the same time, move the thumbsticks back and forth on your controller that matches that side of the screen. This will perform a whammy, the faster you move the thumbstick, the faster the reverb sound. Red notes are mash notes where you hit that button as fast as you can; the more you press it, the more points you will get. Depending on your timing, you will get good or perfect points if you catch the star; the more you hit, the more significant your multiplier and the better chance glowing bonus stars will appear, awarding you extra points. When the song is complete, a screen pops up, giving you a grade based on your max streak, combo areas, how many good or perfect notes you hit, and how many times you hit the mash button.
Unlike games like Guitar Hero, the songs you play along with are not popular songs you have heard on the radio before; the music here does not have any vocals, just instrumental rock music. The music was all catchy and fun to play along with, so it didn’t matter that they weren’t songs that I knew. There are 12 “levels” or songs, to play through for Astrid’s story. Once you complete a game playthrough, a bonus song will be unlocked for you to challenge, along with a Free Play option where you can rechallenge any of the songs you have played to get a higher score or to try on a harder difficulty. The first time you are playing through the story, you have the option to play on the easy Chillin’ difficult or the more challenging Skillin’ difficulty. The Grindin’ selection will be unlocked after you finish the story.
Throughout the game, Astrid will unlock four different outfits and “looks”, which are essentially just hairstyles, along with three guitars — well, four if you count the broom as a guitar. The cell-shaded graphics style fits well with the game's feel. It was modern and simplistic which suited Astrid’s character quite well and her story. Being able to customise Astrid’s outfit was an excellent addition that was fun to change depending on your mood, and in Free Play mode you get to select which stage you will play your song in. I thought the bus station where Astrid is busking is a unique addition for a stage that I’ve never seen in a rhythm game.
LOUD probably won’t take you very long to beat unless you have no sense of rhythm; then, it may take you a bit longer, but being able to easily go back to a song and rechallenge it for a higher score adds to the replayability of the game. Especially if you have become quite good at it, the more complex difficulties added to the challenge! I wish more songs were included here, just because they were quite good, and I would love to hear others! Nonetheless, if you enjoy rhythm games, LOUD is a fun title to check out, especially since the display of having six different bars to watch from different directions made it feel different from other music games like this played in the past.
LOUD (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
LOUD is a fun, cell-shaded rhythm game with a catchy instrumental-rock soundtrack that requires a fast reaction time to master! A bit short, but enjoyable the whole time.