Disclaimer: This review is considerably lengthy. The abridged version is: buy it. I have been obsessed with this game for the past few days and that train, much like the space beetle you play as, is not stopping anytime soon. If you’re interested in reading about how I believe Thumper applies play conditioning, minimalism and cosmic horror to create a brilliant game filled with gorgeous graphics, an intense score and absurd replay value – go ahead!

This strange game is an incredibly satisfying trifecta of psychedelic art, rhythm-based play and horror tension. Seriously, somehow developers Drool have managed to make a game described as, a space beetle travelling through the void, a uniquely terrifying and intense experience. I want to focus the majority of my review on a concept I think Thumper executes brilliantly. It’s a term known as play conditioning, and it’s not mine – I first heard its use by film and games essayist Hbomberguy. He coined the term vis-à-vis Thumper; so, with this in mind, I believe it to be intellectually honest for me to present his argument given that I will proceed to apply, expand and comment on it.

Real player with 69.5 hrs in game

Read More: Best Music Difficult Games.

I understand that hearing “rhythm violence” or “rhythm horror” might be a bit concerning or confusing, so I am going to try to explain it. It is incredibly difficult to know what this game means by those things without trying it.

This game has no gore, no jumpscares, no typical horror tropes, no dismemberment, etc. What Thumper does is give you a feeling of tension and sheer adrenaline. Everything builds up to different points and then releases that tension, thus giving you that feeling of “dread” and adrenaline.

Real player with 63.8 hrs in game

Thumper on Steam