At the end of the year, various outlets talk about the best games to come out in that particular year. Xbox Enthusiast plans on making GOTY lists as well, but the staff also decided to take a look at some underrated games or “hidden gems” that Xbox One owners may have overlooked. Over the next few days, be on the lookout as we will be highlighting a handful of excellent, but not necessarily well known titles.
Alright, this is sort of cheating, but Thumper initially launched in 2016. If you only own an Xbox console, this fantastic rhythm/action/anxiety filled game came to the platform on August 18th. For those unaware of the title, Thumper puts players in control of a space beetle trying to defeat various creatures that stand in its way.
Thumper perfectly embraces the “simple to pick up, difficult to master” mentality. Players are placed on a track and must navigate through obstacles to complete a segment. There are nine levels in the game, with each of them adding a more substantial amount of sections to complete. While the game initially starts off relatively easy, it quickly becomes an excruciating experience full of stress, panic, fear, but an overall sense of accomplishment after conquering a particularly tricky section.
In the early stages, our space beetle only needs to tap the “A” Button when hovering over blue squares on the track. There are rails that players must grind against to keep the momentum going. As you progress to later levels, more obstacles are added to try and destroy your beetle. There are spikes you have to fly over, weapons you have to “slam down” on to attack enemies, and more tracks are even added to the playing field. When this happens, you have to switch lanes with the use of the left analog stick.
The speed and intensity increase after each section. To make matters worse, each additional gameplay element made me stressed out. Despite having a lot of fun, I occasionally started to sweat because of nervousness. I died countless times, but each death only brought more motivation to conquer the obstacle that took me out. The visuals are stunning, especially with the Xbox One X enhanced patch, and the audio is fantastic, which is especially great since the game relies on the score and sound effects to create an atmospheric game
I’ve played Thumper for many hours and found it tough to put it down. Despite the fact that the difficulty is brutal, Thumper provides a rewarding experience, unlike most games that were released on Xbox this year. After completing each section, the game gives you a grade based on your combos and efficiency. I would always try for an S rank, but level three and four became so complicated, that my average grade usually ended up being a “B.” The game is instantly replayable and rarely outstays its welcome. The quest to unlock all the achievements and earn an S rank in every level is a steep path, but the result is worth it.
Thumper is a unique take on the rhythm genre. If you have a surround sound system, that would be the ideal way to play, but if you don’t, definitely use a great headset. Between the flashy visuals and powerful audio elements, as well as tight and responsive controls, Thumper is a wonderful hidden gem that will please fans of the genre. Get ready to panic, scream (it’s a good thing. Trust me.), and blast your way through some of the tensest and rewarding levels in the past few years. Thumper will definitely get your adrenaline pumping.