Music games can provide some of the most fun in all of gaming because music is something everyone can enjoy. Add in gameplay mechanics like puzzles, shooting, dancing, or the use of electric instruments that can be played with a group of friends, and you’ve got a genre that easily becomes a house favorite. While the music genre is not as clear-cut as it used to be – remember when it was basically “Do you want to play Guitar Hero or Rock Band?” – there are many more creative renditions of these experiences, so the scene has never been better than now. However, with the abundance of options now afforded to fans of music games, picking out the one to play can be tough. This list has you covered, though. Here are ten great music games – listed in no particular order – you’ll have a great time jamming in.
Harmonix’s Fuser is perhaps the most musical game on this list because you’re creating new music while playing. It puts you behind the DJ booth of your own character who’s attempting to climb the ranks of electronic festivals. What’s more is that you’re not just hitting notes to the beat of a song like you might in the studio’s more famous music game, Guitar Hero, but rather, it’s you that’s creating the song. You can splice drums from one track with keys from another. Continue to build your song by adding in some guitar, maybe, and when you’re ready, drop in a vocal track – boom, you’ve made a wild remix that the judgmental crowd hopefully enjoys. Fuser is currently the closest we’ll get to becoming a DJ without, you know, actually becoming a DJ. | Our Review
Rock Band 4
Rock Band was the natural evolution of where Guitar Hero took music games, and while the latter eventually tried to replicate the full band setup, it just didn’t work as well as the former. Harmonix continued to develop its Rock Band series alongside other music games, and it eventually led us to the fourth game in the franchise, released in 2015. It’s just as good as you remember it, too. Thanks to new-gen backward compatibility, it’s still wholly playable on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 consoles. However, tracking down the electric instruments won’t be as easy as we wish it were. You and up to three friends can still take on drums, vocals, bass, and guitar and play popular songs well into the night, becoming the highway stars you always were. | Our Review
Cadence of Hyrule
Deviating from the more “you create a song by playing to a beat” formula of many music games, Cadence of Hyrule is a crossover of The Legend of Zelda and Crypt of the Necrodancer. Like the game it’s based on, this Nintendo-influenced sequel sees Crypt’s main character, Cadence, transported to Hyrule by the Triforce, tasked with awakening a sleeping Link and Zelda. To do that, Cadence must navigate a strangely music-driven Hyrule while attacking enemies in her path, all to the tune of amazingly-remixed Zelda songs. Not only is the game filled with fun takes on melodies we all know and love, but it’s downright fun, and it looks beautiful, too. What’s better is that you don’t need to play Crypt of the Necrodancer; just hop in with a semblance of love for Koji Kondo’s classic Zelda score and prepare for a good time. | Our Review
There’s no music game that makes you feel as cool as Beat Saber does. Not only is it a Guitar Hero-like rhythm game, but a lightsaber simulator, too. Okay, maybe Beat Saber developer Beat Games wouldn’t describe it as a lightsaber simulator but like, come on, you’re hitting neon blocks with a large light sword, and it feels very Star Wars meets Tron. It’s an absolute blast too. Beat Games’ original tracks are upbeat and hype as hell, and it doesn’t hurt that Beat Saber kind of tricks you into a small workout while playing. Add in some tracks from real-world artists like Linkin Park, Panic! At The Disco, Timbaland, and more, not to mention the custom song possibilities that arise when playing on PC, and Beat Saber is easily one of the best music games released in years. | Our Review
Rez Infinite is a 2015 standalone expansion to the original Rez, first released in 2001. It comes with the original game, of course. Still, it features a new level called Area X, so not only are you getting one of the best music/rail-shooter hybrid games ever made, but you’re getting brand new content developed in the same world first hacked into on PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast. The entire experience is playable in PSVR, too, which makes the open cyberspace of Infinite’s Area X all the better. If you want neon lights, electric music, and an addictive gameplay loop that begs you to give it one more try for a new high score, you can’t go wrong with Rez Infinite.
Tetris Effect is perhaps more well-known for being one of the best puzzle games ever made, if not one of the best Tetris games at that. However, it’s also uniquely positioned in the music genre because every tetromino flip and drop is attached to a note that further escalates a gradually evolving song playing throughout a stage. In one stage, you’re building a crescendo of drums. In another, the tetrominoes represent key piano touches that create a symphony of metropolitan jazz. And don’t forget the more emotional songs like “Connected (Yours Forever)” that quickly transition from “oh, this is a fun neon Tetris stage” to “I’m crying a lot while playing Tetris???” If you haven’t yet played Tetris Effect, it’s pretty much available everywhere (we highly recommend playing it in VR if you can) and is an absolute must-play for fans of the music genre. | Our Review
Thumper asks a question not asked before in the music genre: what if a rhythm game was terrifying? Released in 2016, Thumper feels more like a dystopian hunt where you’re the prey and a violent, moving song is the predator, and in doing so, it places a special emphasis on the beat behind each track. Relying mainly on a suite of percussion instruments rather than vocals and pop tunes you might find in other music games, Thumper sees a metal beetle race along a track, like an on-rails shooter. However, simply surviving requires fast reflexes and close attention to tempo. Thumper is not for the faint of heart – it’s downright stressful – but if you’re looking for a unique spin on the rhythm-based music game, it’s worth your time. Play it in VR for an especially heart-racing experience. | Our Review
BPM: Bullets Per Minute
What if a rhythm music game was also an action FPS? Sounds great, right? What if it was also a roguelike? Even better. That’s exactly what BPM: Bullets Per Minute is, and it’s one of the most unique shooter experiences out there. It plays out like any other heavy metal-influenced shooter a la Doom or Quake, but instead of firing guns wildly, you have to time your shots to what is essentially an on-screen metronome. You’ll be doing this while traversing through hellish castles and landscapes inspired by Norse mythology, all while your screen is drenched in warm colors like orange and red. It’s as stressful as it sounds – as if these fast-paced shooters weren’t stressful enough – but if you’re up for the challenge, you’re in for one of the most rewarding rhythm-based games in the music genre.
Yet another rhythm music game from Harmonix, Audica is a unique take on what the studio is best known for. Instead of playing with a guitar in your hand, you’ll be holding VR controllers that translate to a blue and orange gun within your headset. That’s because Audica is a rhythm FPS. Opting to go a more ethereal sci-fi route versus its more hellacious brethren, Audica feels like a shooter version of Beat Saber. As colorful squares and diamonds line up on-screen, you must pull the trigger to the beat of the music. In doing so, you’ll create colorful lines of rhythm that explode on screen, and similar to other neon rhythm games, it’s hard not to be obsessed with it.
Just Dance 2022
If you’ve played a Just Dance game before, the 2022 iteration isn’t doing anything dramatically different from the standard formula. Sure, it includes an updated tracklist, but it’s the same feel-good dance game it’s always been. What makes it different from others in the genre is that Just Dance emphasizes the fun and excitement of dancing to a tune rather than focusing on staying on beat to get a high score or advance to a new level. If you want to play a music game that doesn’t involve guns, lightsabers, or puzzles, then Just Dance 2022 has you covered.
What games on this list do you enjoy? What games would you add that aren’t currently listed? Let us know in the comments below and if you enjoyed this list, be sure to check out our other recent genre lists by hitting the “List of Lists” hub below!
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