Even though indie rock and gaming have never seemed synonymous, the hip rock genre has been a valued part of gaming for the past decade or so. In the mid-early aughts, racing games like Burnout and Need for Speed honed in on the rapidly-emerging genre and featured great bands like The Futureheads, Maximo Park, LCD Soundsystem and many more. Before music blogs become ubiquitous, these games were the first exposure many had to these bands’ sonic bliss. Although indie music has stuck around in racing and sports games, it feels like indie rock is finally starting to infiltrate gaming in all genres in the past year. Last year saw the soundtracks of Life Is Strange and Tales from the Borderlands rely heavily on bands like alt-J, Jungle, The Rapture and more and now Pop Sandbox has created a game around the indie music scene itself.
If you haven’t assumed so already, LOUD on Planet X is indeed a rhythm game, but it’s not simply a typical Guitar Hero-esque title with indie music thrown in. The game centers around a horrifying race of aliens invading earth and trying to stop the sweet sounds of rock any way they can. With no other options, these bands have to keep on rocking to stop the waves of alien invaders.
Even though the game comes from a small (fittingly) indie studio called Pop Sandbox that has only created a couple mobile games, they’ve been able to attract an incredibly impressive roster of indie artists hailing from their country of Canada and around the world. Bands featured include Tegan and Sara, Fucked Up, Purity Ring, Metric and many more. Instead of merely featuring their music, all of the bands are fully represented via adorable animated versions of themselves. All of the instruments and line-ups are accurate — Metric has Emily Hanes rocking away on vocals and Purity Ring sees Corin Roddick hitting his bizarre tree-like instrument. Even the way the bands moves is accurate, with Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham randomly stripping during performances and jumping around the stage, for instance.
The gameplay itself is simple. The blob aliens try to encroach the stage from one of four rows and are blasted away by tapping each row on the quarter note of the beat. Even though it sounds like it’d be easy, constantly staying on beat and managing the rows quickly becomes challenging and requires perfection during harder stages. Once everything is going right, though, it’s a cool feeling that really lets you participate with this great music.
LOUD on Planet X is due out in April for PlayStation 4, Steam, iOS and Android. We demoed the game on an iPad and it felt like the natural console for it — it seems like it would be difficult to play without a touchscreen, but we won’t pass judgement until next month. The game isn’t priced yet, but will be under twenty dollars. And if you need any more incentive to buy it, there are three exciting bands that many gamers will know and love that just signed onto the project. We can’t tell you who they are yet, but seriously, be excited.