Upon starting the game, you’re given a quick tutorial to get you familiar with the basics, for all the first time players. The mechanics learned here will be the foundation of how the game is played going forward. If you’re not a stranger to the rhythm genre, you will have no problem grasping the concept, and before you know it you’ll be throwing out combinations of wall jumps, dashes, and more. With each action, you will essentially be making a song of your own. If you aren’t able to find the rhythm, you’ll be unable to perform the action you are trying to pull off. In no time, you’ll instinctively be bobbing your head or tapping your foot to the beat to stay on time. The game has garnered recognition, earning a bevy of awards, including “Best Soundtrack “Ping” Award 2015 of french games”, “Official selection for IndieMegaBooth at Gamescom,” and “Official selection for The MIX at E3” back in June.
Not five minutes into the game I was already asking myself what exactly it was that was so familiar. It wasn’t the simple time signatures or the platforming–it was all the elements of the litany of rhythm games I’ve played over the years. Sometimes genres can become stagnant and developers try to find new ways to evolve. For me, Inside My Radio successfully evoked similar feelings of various games in the genre. Sound Shapes is likely the most obvious one, but I also got vibes of Rez, Mad Maestro, and even a little bit of that Bemani flare. The more you play, the more confident you will feel in bringing your own personality to a song, while also effortlessly zipping through basic platforms and level design.
When all goes according to plan, it really can be a special experience. Timing a wall jump to an air dash just right to get past that difficult section not only sounds good, but it’s also visually impressive. The environment often reacts to the decisions you make. This could be a simple stage light in the background lighting in sync with your rhythms, or it could result in the entire scene changing to match the music. When all the elements align, it can make you feel as if you are the maestro of not just song, but rather an experience as it unfolds around you.
The visuals at times can be a treat to look at. The explosion of colors and various styles of art can synergize just right with the tone of the player-controlled soundtrack. Other times, however, I felt as if they were uninspired. The main character design is bright and stands out in the colorful world, but his design never quite fits his “character,” if you can call it that. The game attempts to include a narrative of sorts but, being completely honest, I was lost from the very beginning. Not only was the timing of the “story” out of order, none of it made much sense either. I also never really bought that any of these designs (blocks?) were alive. The characters’ faces take away from the situation as the designs are somewhat generic and never changing. What also didn’t help were the forced internet culture jokes scattered throughout. There were more than a few “meme” references, which to me is far beyond played out at this point, and left me wanting to skip past any of the dialog. This is in stark contrast to Thomas Was Alone, which somehow evoked emotions from a few colors and geometric shapes.
After all the comparisons and how expansive the rhythm genre has become, Inside My Radio had some really lofty expectations to overcome. The result? It’s OK. While I mentioned above the game compares favorably to others in the genre, it doesn’t mean it’s as good as its peers. The game borrows from so many others in the field, and while each component adds its own little charm, it never feels more than a sample version of those other games, and you’d be better off playing those. That’s not to say this game isn’t worth experiencing. If you’re a fan of the other games mentioned, then it’s probably worth a shot. The campaign is incredibly quick, never really overstaying its welcome. On top of that, for those who would want more, there’s a time attack mode that will put you to the test and require you to perfect the various techniques used throughout the game. If you have $14.99 to spare, and are in the market for a game to relax with and enjoy for PS4, this one might just be for you.