I'm a big fan of the classic rhythm games - stepmania, osu! and the like. The games that get you immersed in the music and entwined with the beat. I could never get into audiosurf because the obstacles were on the beat, which meant you had to move out of time with the music - for me this breaks the definition of rhythm game.
And I love bullet hell; played Perfect Cherry Blossom to death (which incidentally, had great music). So how does Soundodger+ stack up?
Well, the bullet hell falls short at times. In a traditional shooter you have to focus on (a) dodging and (b) being in the right position to shoot your enemy(s). Here there's no shooting, just dodging -- which I have no problem with in theory, but in practice I found some levels had large periods of time where no bullets would come my way. I had a safe spot and with no other pressure to reposition I just sat still - which didn't make for very engaging gameplay. Other levels were better, including homing missiles to keep me on my toes.
How about the rhythm? Well, there's two things that absolutely kill
the rhythm of whatever song is playing. The first is the slow motion ability which you invoke via the left mouse button. This slows down the music aswell of course, and for me the effect simply doesn't work. The second occurs whenever you get hit - everything speeds up for a short time which has a hugely jarring effect on the music. I'm not suggesting death should be fun, but in a rhythm game the music makes the game
, and if you kill my enjoyment of the music you kill my enjoyment of the game. Fortunately you can simply avoid activating slow motion, and there's an option ("Easy listening") to disable the speedup when you get hit. So while I don't think these are worthwhile features, I don't hold them against the game as a whole.
Soundodger does a pretty good job of matching the song's energy, both in pre-made levels and the auto-generated mode (when you plug your own music in). But it suffers from the same issue I had with audiosurf - it doesn't encourage me to move with
the beat, or draw me into the music. Yes the level is generated from the music, but the gameplay
that emerges is on a totally different beat. As such I can't recommend it as a rhythm game.