Every time I passed by tinyBuild’s carnival booth at PAX East 2022, I’d hear the thumping music of Rhythm Sprout and would stop for a few moments to watch people play before heading to my next appointment. Eventually, I had some free time and simply couldn’t resist, so I decided to wait in line for a chance to play the game myself.
By waiting in line, I was able to observe the people in front of me to get a feel for the game before my turn rolled around. With this, I found that watching someone play Rhythm Sprout is almost as fun as playing it yourself. This is because visually, Rhythm Sprout is incredibly charming and full of bright, colorful characters including the game’s protagonist, an intrepid little onion named Sprout.
As Sprout, you’ll have to step to the beat in order to take out the “Bad Sweets” army of the aptly named King Sugar Daddy. Yes, his name is King Sugar Daddy. The game is full of self-aware jokes and fun dialogue that help encourage you to keep playing even when you’re struggling in a level, or two. Or all of them.
And you’ll almost certainly struggle at first — unless you’re a rhythm game master — as Rhythm Sprout is surprisingly, but also intentionally, difficult. I consider myself a master at Tetris and as such, fancy I have some quick reflexes, but there were moments during my time with Rhythm Sprout where I really struggled.
The struggle comes not only from needing precise timing, but also how the game keeps you on your toes pacing wise. In Rhythm Sprout, the core gameplay centers on pressing buttons associated with an assortment of colorful bars (pink, yellow, blue).
Once the bar reaches the designated area at the bottom of the screen in a Guitar Hero sort of way you’ll press it, and the goal is to not miss the prompt entirely, while also getting the timing down perfect in order to maximize the points you earn.
Each level has a points goal, and at the end, you’ll see whether the points you racked up meet, exceed, or fall short of that goal. When the bars are spread out, it’s easy to plan your moves and get a feel for the rhythm of the song. However, when the game starts picking up the pace and smashing these bars closer and closer together, there’s very little time between each one to keep up with the beat.
Furthermore, if you mess up during these sections, you’re in for a tricky time when it comes to getting yourself back on track. It sounds punishing, but I loved this about the game as I’m fairly competitive, so I can easily see myself sinking an exorbitant amount of time into Rhythm Sprout when the full game is released in order to complete every level perfectly.
Fortunately for me and others looking to master the flow of Rhythm Sprout, a demo of the game is available on Steam with three playable levels. This includes the beach level I played at PAX East, which I’m especially happy about as that’s the level I struggled with the most, and the one that I really want to master.
In closing, if you love games like Beat Saber, Guitar Hero, Crypt of the NecroDancer, etc., and you’re looking to have your skills put to the ultimate test, you owe it to yourself to check out the Rhythm Sprout demo on Steam. It’ll make your palms sweaty, knees weak, arms heavy, mom’s spaghetti in the best ways possible.
If you find yourself addicted to the charm and challenge of Rhythm Sprout, it’s also worthwhile to add the game to your Steam Wishlist so you can keep up with things like release date announcements. You can also follow Rhythm Sprout on Twitter.
These impressions are based on an in-person demo played at PAX East 2022, and the demo available on Steam. Rhythm Sprout currently has no set release date, but when it’s released, it will be available on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch.