The best rhythm games combine the audible pleasures of music with challenging gameplay mechanics. One of the more unique genres, rhythm games test your ability to keep up with musical beats using various traditional gameplay mechanics. These games are extra fun to play, but they also help you improve your rhythmic abilities in real-time. Let’s look at some of the best rhythm games with the most unique mechanics and excellent soundtracks.
What Are Rhythm Games?
Rhythm games are music-themed video games that test your ability to follow a rhythm of a song or musical piece. These games require you to take specific actions (i.e., tapping) on objects that appear on the screen along with the beat of the soundtrack. The game rewards you for all presses that you make in time with the pattern/beat.
Rhythm games come in many different shapes, with the same concept but different mechanics. Some games require special equipment to catch visual items, as is the case with most VR games. Meanwhile, other games require simple taps on the keyboard to catch objects that represent the beats of a soundtrack. Still, other games have the player watch, remember, and repeat complex sequences of keys.
Rhythm games are fun to play; they also help improve your auditory-motor skills or your ability to respond to auditory signals with physical movements. To a lesser degree, they also help you to improve your visual-motor skills or your ability to respond to visual input with physical movements.
Most rhythm games can be played by yourself in single-player mode, although some games pit you against an automated opponent. Some games offer multi-player mode, allowing you to compete with other people using the same track in real-time.
15 Best Rhythm Games to Play on PC You Can Play Today
Rhythm games combine two of the most enjoyable things in the world: music and video games. Having said this, you would want a game that excels at both aspects. That is, you would want a game with great music, clever mechanics, and great visuals for the full experience.
While there are hundreds of rhythm games out there, not all can deliver the quality that you might expect from this unique genre. That being said, we scoured the internet to look for some of the best rhythm games. Our list takes into account the quality of game mechanics, visuals, and soundtrack. Here goes our list.
1. Beat Saber
Beat Saber is a highly popular virtual reality (VR) game. The game has you slashing colored cubes with lightsabers to original music in a VR environment. While the concept seems simple enough, many people who have played the game have found it rather difficult to master.
The game mechanics are relatively simple: you need to hold two controllers in your hands, which register as lightsabers. When the music starts playing, you have to slash the blocks with your left and right sabers. An arrow accompanies each block on top to let you know the direction you need to slash them.
A leaderboard keeps track of your score and shows how you compare to your online friends as well as the rest of the world. Each song comes with several difficulty levels for you to choose from.
Since this is a VR game, you will also need to have a VR headset package with a pair of controllers. A few examples of VR kits include HTC Vive, Valve Index, Oculus Rift, Rift S, and WMR. In addition, you will also need a reliable PC and a copy of the game from the Oculus or Steam store. For additional VR game ideas, check out this list of the best VR games on PC.
Thumper is a fast-paced and arcade-inspired game and one of the best rhythm games that you can play on PC. The game has you commandeer a space beetle hurtling along an endless track of lights to confront an evil, cosmic creature.
The tasks within the game come at increasingly more difficult progression. In the beginning, your movement is limited to hitting the lighted spots on a single, high-speed lane. But as the difficulty rises, you will have to perform various actions simultaneously to cover incoming beats across several lanes.
The game will present you with visual cues to guide you through the jumps and turns. However, we need to warn you that the speed at which the beetle travels through the path can be very nerve-racking.
Thumper is available on the Playstation store and can be played on Playstations 4 and 5. Some features available in PS4 may not be available for PS5, in which case you will need to have your system updated to the latest system software.
3. Crypt of the Necrodancer
Crypt of the Necrodancer is a rhythm game with some roguelike fantasy elements, making it one of the best rhythm games for all ages. The roguelike elements of the game are reflected in the mechanics, where a character explores several levels of an underground dungeon.
The objective of the game is to move your character’s board and various levels following the beat of the song. Each character in the game moves in a specific pattern along with the music, and you must uncover the pattern to time your attacks. But there’s a clincher: the game will only accept your input if you perform it in time with the music.
Killing enemies without missing a beat or taking damage will increase the size of your winnings, but the opposite will decrease it. Aside from killing enemies to the beat of the music, you also need to collect items like weapons, armor, and other usable items. The game automatically manages these items for you.
Crypt of the Necrodancer is a multi-platform game that can be played on PCs (Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux). The game has also been adapted for gaming consoles (PS 4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch). Not to mention, a new mobile-based version of the game was just released for Android and IOS.
4. Bullets Per Minute (BPM)
Bullets Per Minute (BPM) is a fun new twist on the classic shooter game, with its roguelike and rhythmic elements. The game has you enter a randomly generated dungeon to slay monsters and collect loot, but your actions have to be in sync with the soundtrack.
All combat-based actions in the game, including firing, reloading, dashing, and using secondary abilities, have to be done in sync with the music. Any combat-based action not performed in sync with the beat will not pull through.
Performing actions on the beat, such as shooting and reloading, increases the score multiplier if enemies are in the room. A rhythm bar appears in the center of the screen and prompts you to the timing of the soundtrack.
Bullets Per Minute (BPM) is available to play on the Steam platform, the GOG Galaxy, PlayStation 4, and Xbox.
5. Friday Night Funkin’
Friday Night Funkin’ is an adorable and lighthearted rhythmic game and one of the best rhythmic games of late. The game has you play as a lovestruck teenager who has to participate in freestyle rhythm battles to earn a kiss from his beloved.
The game mechanics are simple: press the correct directional arrow keys in time with the beats of the music. Aside from participating in song battles, you also have to dodge obstacles to collect coins as well as collect food for your health.
The game has a single campaign mode with ten different levels and three randomly selected songs each. The patterns and songs get progressively more complex as you progress through the levels.
A few years ago, the developers updated the game when they removed the free play mode and added a new opponent called the Dancing Robot. They also added new dance moves to make the game more interesting.
Friday Night Funkin’ is an independent game available for PC and Android platforms. The game has a website where you can purchase and download either version of the game.
6. Sequence Storm
Sequence Storm is a story-driven rhythm game that tests your ability to keep in rhythm within a racetrack environment. The game has you play as Elijah Gale, a down-on-his-luck engineer who becomes a digital racecar driver known as a “daemon.”
The game has you accomplish increasingly complicated maneuvers to keep your vehicle in sync with the beat. For example, you will only have to drive straight to hit single-lane notes in the beginning. But soon, the lane diverges into a maximum of four lanes with alternating beats.
The game is backed by original retro electronic beats, which makes for an enjoyable listening experience. There’s also a good variation in the beats, with some tunes leaning more into ta futuristic vibe while others have an 80s vibe.
Sequence Storm is playable on PC platforms, including Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux.
7. Sayonara Wild Hearts
Sayonara Wild Hearts is an action-based rhythm game released back in 2019. The game takes you through a story-based plot involving a heartbroken woman who transforms into a masked heroine and fights creatures in a surreal alternate world.
The game is pretty extensive, with twenty-three levels in total, and each level has a unique set of mechanics. Nonetheless, the game objective remains the same: to pass through hearts in the surreal alternate world to earn points while avoiding obstacles along the way.
Sayonara Wild Hearts is playable on PC with Microsoft Windows devices as well as macOS and iOS devices. It’s also playable on gaming consoles, including Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.
8. Dance of Fire and Ice
Dance of Fire and Ice is a deceptively simple yet difficult game that requires intense concentration to master. The game has you synchronize the movements of two orbiting planets as they move along intricate patterns on the screen.
The game mechanics mimic planetary motion. There are two unnamed planets; one is stationary while the other revolves around the first orb. The player has to press a key to freeze the orbiting orb before it completes a revolution. Doing so locks the orbiting planet into place while causing the other planet to revolve around it in turn.
Whichever planet is currently orbiting, it must not make a full revolution around the stationary planet. Otherwise, the two planets will crash together, stopping the game. The same will happen if you are around the stationary planet or if the player delivers inaccurate taps.
The game has several levels or “worlds” that consist of several stages. The different stages consist of several tutorials and one boss stage for that particular level. You can skip the tutorials but need to pass the boss stage to progress to the next level. The boss stages usually have the most intricate patterns and fastest rhythms.
Dance of Ice and Fire is available for PC (Windows and Mac) well as mobile devices (Android and iOS).
Osu is an anime-style rhythm game where players are expected to perform different tasks to match the beat of the music being played. The game is based on the original iNiS rhythm game titled Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. The game has its mascot called Pippi, a pink and black-haired girl.
Osu has four game modes (Osu, Taiko, Catch, and Mania), each having a different mechanics. Osu is the default mode and involves tapping on circles and holding onto sliders and spinners. Taiko simulates the process of a real drum, where players have to tap on differently-colored circles.
In Catch, you have to catch the different varieties of fruits falling from the top of the screen, and you must catch them to the beat of the music. Finally, Mania has players tap on different keys on the keyboard to match the cadence of lights along multiple lanes on the screen.
Osu is available for download on their official website. There are versions for both PC and mobile (Android and IOS).
10. DJ Max Online
DJMAX Online is a rhythm action game and the first in a lineup of rhythm games from DJMAX. The game makes use of traditional rhythm game mechanics that require you to tap on certain keys to match the bars and beats of the song.
There are two key modes to choose from the five-key lane and the seven-key lanes. The former comes up with a maximum of two notes for the player to click at one time, while the latter comes up with a maximum of four keys to click at one time.
In addition to key modes, the game has four game modes: free, ranking, course, and DJ Battle. The free mode allows the user to play any song that they’ve unlocked. On the other hand, the ranking mode has players play through three randomly-selected songs.
Course mode allows the player to choose a lineup of songs to play, often with a score requirement. The DJ Battle mode allows players to compete with other players online in a one-on-one to one-to-five battle.
The game keeps track of the accuracy of each line of notes and grants the player a combo for each line of notes they get correctly. Players can also upgrade to a premium level to gain access to more songs and courses.
DJMAX Online was initially a web-based platform exclusively available to Windows PC users. However, the game has since expanded to be available to PS4 and PS5 users.
11. Spin Rhythm
Spin Rhythm is a highly engaging rhythm game with cleverly-crafted yet simple game mechanics. The low learning curve of this game makes it one of the best rhythm games to play on your own.
The game has you control a spinning wheel with colored bars, and the objective is to match the bars with cascading notes. The notes are in sync with the beats of the song, and the patterns become progressively more complex as you advance in the game.
The game incorporates different types of notes that represent different instruments on any given track. There are large blue, green, and red bars, sometimes accompanied by blue, green, and red circles that you need to hit. There are also slanting line bars that you need to track using the wheel.
Spinning discs make the game a lot more interesting and divert from the typical click and slide mechanics. In particular, this rhythm game can be played using a standard gamepad, but even then, the game still keeps you at the edge of your seat.
Spin Rhythm is available for download on the Steam platform and can be played via PC (Windows and Mac) and Nintendo Switch.
Vetronom is a retro-style rhythm game that uses a lego-like playing field and modern tunes to create a nostalgic gaming environment. The game has you play a cube maneuvering a labyrinth-like environment that shifts along to an electronic synth soundtrack.
Like other navigational games, the path ahead of you isn’t stable. Some parts of the floor appear and disappear while spikes rise and fall along with the stationary parts. The moveable elements on the floor and spikes move in sync with the beat of the music. The objective is to move along with the music to navigate the path without falling or stumbling into a hazard.
There are several sections in the game, with each section containing several levels with its theme. The initial set of levels does a great job of familiarizing the player with the game’s basic rules. Nonetheless, the puzzles get progressively trickier and the music more complex as your level increases.
Case in point, more advanced sections obscure the cube from the player’s view, prompting them to time their movements solely with auditory cues. Not to worry, though, since a bright red circle always marks the target destination to keep you on track.
Vectronom is downloadable through most online gaming stores and can be played on Nintendo Switch and Windows and macOS computers.
13. Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
Bit.Trip made waves with their critically acclaimed and IGF award-winning running rhythmic game, Runner. Now, the developer has returned with another retro-style running game called Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien.
The game has you play as a green, pickle-shaped anthropomorphic character called Commander Video. The Nefarious Timbletot’s nemesis has trapped you in an alternate dimension with collapsing structures.
The game has your character running endlessly through a myriad of obstacles. These obstacles include pits, robots, projectiles, and walls. These obstacles will have you jump, slide, block, and kick with precise timing. Make a single mistake and the game will send you right back to the beginning of the level.
Each level takes you through progressively more difficult patterns and increasingly complex tracks. This progression sweeps you up in action, taking you along an increasingly brisk momentum. Should you find the pacing of the game too easy or too difficult for your tastes, you can always adjust the difficulty level to find the right fit.
Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is currently available for download on the PlayStation Network and the Xbox Live Marketplace. It’s also available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux via Steam, and the Wii U eShop.
MUSYNX is another rhythm game that uses a classic gameplay model taking after the DJMAX series. This game has one of the more extensive song libraries on the list, with hundreds of pieces spanning multiple genres. In addition, these pieces were created by various artists from China, Taiwan, and Japan.
Like other rhythm games, the game consists of a vertical track divided into several lanes. Colorful blocks cascade from the top to the bottom of the tracks, and your objective is to catch the blocks before they reach the bottom.
Each track has a corresponding button on your keyboard or controller. The player must press the right moment to match the color of the blocks before it reaches the line at the bottom. Players can use a touchscreen instead of a keyboard on other supported platforms for input.
There are two gameplay modes available. The first comes with four lanes of blocks, while the other has six lanes of blocks. In addition to the two gameplay modes, you also have three levels of difficulty, which determines the speed at which the blocks appear on the screen.
MUSYNX is available to play on PC (Windows and Mac) and game controllers such as Vita, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.
15. Muse Dash
Muse Dash is a Japanese-made rhythm game with cute graphics, a nostalgic soundtrack, and simple mechanics. The developers originally released the game as a mobile app, and it received overwhelmingly positive reviews from all over the world.
Each level consists of a single song. Each song comes with trophies to unlock, leaderboards to make your mark on, and three difficulty levels to suit your style. You need to complete a certain number of songs to level up, which, in turn, opens up new songs for you to play.
Muse Dash has a very simple two-button control scope and side-scrolling mechanics. One button hits objects on the ground while the other launches you upwards to hit elevated objects. Aside from horizontally-lined objects, you will also need to avoid certain obstacles and trail stars with tails.
The game has fifty song titles in its library, and nearly all of these sound like they could come from anime titles. However, in truth, these songs come from a variety of genres such as pop, classical, trance, Vocaloid, R&B, and more.
Muse Dash is available to play on multiple platforms, including PC (Windows and Mac), and mobile devices (Android). It’s also available via Steam and other online stores to play on controllers like Nintendo Switch.
What Do You Need to Play a Rhythm Game?
Rhythm games are normally played using a basic PC with a keyboard. However, some games can be played with a touchscreen, such as on a tablet or mobile phone, a handheld controller, or special controllers. To clarify, special controllers are game-specific devices made to look like real instruments, such as guitars, drums, and maracas. These controllers provide direct input to the game through a physical connection with the computer or device running the game.
In addition to these devices, you would also need a pair of headphones to play rhythm games. Headphones help to ensure that you’re hearing the rhythm clearly and without interruption, and it prevents you from disturbing other people while playing the game. Check out some great headphones from our list of the best surround-sound headphones for audiophiles and the best noise-canceling earbuds.
Final Thoughts on the Best Rhythm Games to Play on PC You Can Play Today
And there you have it, our compilation of the very best rhythm games that you can play on your PC and other platforms. The games on this list are the closest to offering the perfect balance between challenging gameplay and excellent music. Not only that, but they also offer some of the best visually stunning and engaging visuals that technology can offer.
But more importantly, these games integrate rhythmic elements with traditional elements like role-playing, roguelike exploration, anime, and so on. This helps to break down barriers between gaming genres, offering unique experiences. We certainly look forward to seeing more games from other genres incorporating rhythmic elements shortly.