Review by Alyx Jones
Edited by Sam Hughes
Publisher: Square Enix Collective
Music: Chipzel, Andre Sobota, Derek Howell & Monomirror
Sound Design: Jordan Fehr & Marco Guardia
Reviewed on: Playstation 4
There has recently been a rise in beat-driven video games with a nightclub aesthetic, that can be played socially at events and with live game music on the rise with chiptune clubs, as well as orchestral performances, we’re seeing the industry grow in new directions every day. Rhythm platformer Octahedron is the latest guest to the party, hitting e-shelves in March, picking up some good reviews, on its way.
Octahedron features a small glowing character with an octahedron as a head, who must journey upwards to make his way back home. The game opens with a small cutscene, with warm analogue synths, setting a chill but slightly mysterious mood as the main character ventures out and discovers a strange floating shape in the woods. This is pretty much the extent of the story, and it feels slightly out of place once we get plunged into the many levels to follow.
The slowly evolving synths of the intro, are replaced with a heavily beat-based soundtrack that is synced with the flashing lightbulbs in the levels, that we must smash in order to release collectable flowers. The lightbulbs give off a satisfying “snare hit” kind of sound, but it doesn’t quite make it’s way into the overall soundtrack. It certainly would have been more satisfying to be pushed more towards smashing the bulbs on a consistent beat, so we as the player, could play a more active part in the soundtrack, as other rhythm games on the market encourage.
A few different composers contributed to the soundtrack, including Chipzel (well known for her work on Super Hexagon), House and Trance producers Andre Sobota and Derek Howell, and Monomirror (of classic trance acts like Flutlicht). Having a variety of composers works well for this game, although with such a large amount of levels, tracks are re-used, so each level doesn’t have an exclusive feel. The atmospheric slowly evolving tracks heard in the intro and level select, feature pads and filtered down arpeggiated patterns, with the addition of high frequency glass-like patterns that add to the mysterious, other-wordly feel of the game.
Chipzel’s music is very pumping and driving, certainly a huge contrast to the chilled, mysterious place where the game starts. Her music suits the grinding nature of gameplay, where the player must repeat challenges again and again when the levels become super-challenging. Chipzel is well known for Chip Music (taking sounds from the sound chips of consoles such as the Game Boy) but adding a modern, club take to the genre.
The 80s, sci-fi visuals, are paired with more modern sound effects that fit the aesthetic and are well mixed to sit alongside the music. The distinguishing of lightbulbs creates a snare hit, and the placing of the platform, a lower end pulse. While they don’t particularly fit the rhythm, as mentioned earlier, the SFX all sound good and are satisfying to trigger every time. Some of the obstacles are synced to the beat such as flashing/rotating cubes and pulsing enemies that move around platforms at regular intervals, but things like when you place your platforms or smash lightbulbs aren’t particularly related to the beat, so it just misses that extra level of gratification typical of rhythm games.
Octahedron is very enjoyable to play and definitely requires time and patience to get through. There may be a few rage-quits to speak of but this glowing, pulsing, platformer holds many hours of fun with a soundtrack to keep you pushing on through the more frustrating levels towards the end.
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The Sound Architect