DISCLAIMER: Rhyme Storm was provided to us for free for the purpose of review.
UPDATE 05/01/21: Well folks, if any of you still harboured doubts about the extent of my awesome power, quash them. Shove them deep down until you can’t feel them anymore, because my reach knows no bounds. A mere four days after my initial review of Rhyme Storm was published, Flip Rhythm released their first major update of the game, assuaging many of my concerns. Coincidence? Please! Sure, some naysayers might claim that an update like this takes longer than four days to build, and Flip Rhythm have obviously been planning this for some time. But I know the truth. Flip Rhythm is working hard to appease me, and soon the rest of the rap world will too. Look for the updates in bold to find out more.
In October, Flip Rhythm made the game Rhyme Storm available for Early Access on Steam. Last week, I downloaded the game – a rhythm-based, casual bit of fun in the vein of Guitar Hero, but with rapping. And now I’m the world’s greatest rapper.
I’m sure you have plenty of questions. But first, let’s get one thing straight. I’m not going to rap in this review. Not because I can’t rap, but because the rhymes I spit are so sick they’ll blow your mind to smithereens. So if you’re here for that, don’t waste your time. But if you want to hear more about Rhyme Storm, and my journey towards becoming, as the kids say, “the MVP OG MC OAP” then read on!
Question One: “Will Rhyme Storm Really Make Me an MC?”
Probably not. The thing is, when I started playing Rhyme Storm, I was already brimming with raw, untapped rapping potential. I’d already watched a bootleg recording of Hamilton. Twice. The sculptor Michelangelo once famously said that David already existed in the stone, he simply needed to cut away the excess rock. In the same way, Rhyme Storm was simply the catalyst I needed to unlock the power I had inside of me all along.
But you probably don’t have that power, reader. Rhyme Storm won’t make you into a star. I mean, sure, there’s a sense of progression. You have the option of starting out in Freeflow Mode, where you pick a beat and the game’s AI randomly generates lines for you mumble into your microphone. And sure, you’ll probably get a bit of a thrill as your scores increase. Your confidence might grow and you might even start adlibbing a little, seeing how many extra words you can throw in and stay in time.
And yeah, okay, sure, you might get good enough to move onto the Off the Dome Mode, where the game generates colour-coded rhyme words for you to hit on the beat, and you fill in the blanks either side yourself. But this is “easy to learn, hard to master” stuff. It’ll probably take you hours of playtime before you feel like you’ve gotten everything out of the game. Unless you’re me, of course. But you’re not me, are you? No one’s me. Except me, I mean. Wait, I should write that down.
Question Two: “Will Rhyme Storm Make Me Look Cool?”
Oh, Jesus Christ no! Don’t get me wrong, Rhyme Storm looks cool. It’s got these sleek, hypnotic visuals that pulse and change colours with the beat in response to your performance. But that’s not going to fix, well…you.
The game gives you the choice of imitating such famous rappers as Shakespeare, Nostradamus or Edgar Allen Poe. Or you can select from an ever-changing list of AI-generated topics like Single Dads Vs Dinosaurs or Zombies at the Bank. And let me tell you now, straight up, only I can pull off a subject as dumb as that. The random combinations are fun, but they can start to feel a bit “same-y” after a while. The lyrics are kept vague enough that sometimes I forget whether the vampires I’m rapping about are supposed to be camping or in high school. That’s why I’m going to switch to rapping about, like, the government and stuff. Look out for my upcoming album Martians Vs Brexit in the new year.
[UPDATE: Okay, see, this is what I mean. I make the teeniest complaint about the AI-generated topics getting stale, and what does Flip Rhythm do? They revamp the AI to make the randomly generated lyrics more coherent, and add a selection of new subjects! Not to mention a search function, so if you explicitly want to rap about Martians, you can. They’ve also added some new beats, including lo-fi beats, to further increase variety. Probably the most exciting new feature is the ability to upload your own custom beats into the game (provided you know the BPM). I didn’t even have to ask for that. That’s how badly Flip Rhythm wants to impress me.]
There’s also a “hype man” who chimes in to comment on your performance. He’s supposed to cheer and yell about how great you’re doing, but mine mostly says stuff like “Dude, use the words on the screen!” or “You are failing at rapping!”. I don’t know why Flip Rhythm would program the hype man to feel jealousy, but that’s clearly what they’ve done.
[UPDATE: This one I feel a smidge mean about. Clearly, Flip Rhythm have had a little ‘talk’ with the hype man. He’s…quieter now. More subdued. He offers more encouragement, holds back his sharpest criticisms. I’m not saying it isn’t an improvement, just that it isn’t like him. Someone has put the fear of Kai into the hype man. In fact, I’ve been told that if I want, I can shut him up for good. Technically what the development notes said was that I can adjust his volume, but I know what they meant. Who knew my newfound fame would carry such heavy responsibility?]
For all you mere mortals, Rhyme Storm will probably join the ranks of games like Rock Band or SingStar. The kind of game you break out at a party to trick all your guests into embarrassing themselves, whilst you secretly record them for blackmailing purposes. There’s no multiplayer mode yet, but the developers are planning to include one with the official release – as well as a ton of new topics, a VR mode, new challenges and a ton of other stuff. Once they do, Rhyme Storm will be a great way to have hours of fun with your family and friends. Just don’t even think about going up against me, because I’ll crush you like a bug.
Question Three: “Does it Run Well?”
Hmm. I’m too famous to deal with tech stuff these days, so I’ll let my roadie answer that one.
“We had a little trouble setting up the game. Sometimes Kai would fail a song two seconds in. No one can be that bad, right? At first, we thought maybe the game couldn’t understand Scottish accents, but Kai’s “American” accent is so painful I had to beg them to stop. Then Kai kept insisting there was something wrong with the microphone. The “settings” button doesn’t actually do anything in the game right now, it’s just window dressing. So technically I couldn’t prove Kai wrong. We tried three different microphones before they admitted maybe the problem was that they were ‘too good’ and it was ‘confusing the game’.
When I tried playing, my scores were crazy inconsistent from one round to the next, so maybe there’s something to Kai’s theory that the game was malfunctioning. Or maybe listening to Kai too many times has permanently damaged my sense of rhythm. The game also crashed the desktop a couple of times. I think maybe it was just trying to save itself.
Also, I’m Kai’s roommate. I don’t think they know what a roadie is.”
[UPDATE: On a happier note, Flip Rhythm were even kind enough to throw a bone to my woefully incompetent roadie! They’ve got that pesky “settings” button working, so you can choose between full-screen or windowed mode and adjust various volume settings, including for poor old hype man mentioned above. The menu also includes a link to a troubleshooting page in case you’re having microphone trouble like I was. Last of all, the scoring system has been updated so now even my roadie can get a decent score most of the time! Flip Rhythm really didn’t have to do that, but it’s a nice thought.]
Question Four: “Should I get Rhyme Storm?”
If you’re thinking of buying Rhyme Storm to follow me into the big leagues, you can forget it pal. But if you’re looking for something dumb, fun and totally unique, and you don’t mind the odd moment of technical confusion (my roadie wasn’t kidding about us trying three different mics), I’d say pick it up now. If the developers deliver on half of what they’ve promised for the full release, you won’t regret it.
[UPDATE: This first update has already provided some major and exciting improvements. So I reiterate: if you’re tempted to try Rhyme Storm, do it.]
Question Five: “Will You Perform at my Son’s Birthday Party?”
Depends. Will there be a buffet?