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Headbangers: Rhythm Royale review

Review – Headbangers: Rhythm Royale is Like a Musical Fall Guys

There just aren’t enough music rhythm games starring pigeons. Clearly, developer Glee-Cheese Studios felt the same way, and has released Headbangers: Rhythm Royale out into the world. Both a music rhythm game and a multiplayer battle royale, it pits you against 29 other players to see who can be the pigeon with the most rhythm. It’s delightful, it’s ridiculous, and it’s a great deal of fun.

One game of Headbangers: Rhythm Royale is made up of multiple rounds, with a number of players getting weeded out at the end of each. Starting out with 30 players, by the time you reach the final round only five players will remain. At that point, it becomes sudden death: a single mistake will get you kicked out.

Each round is made up of a randomly-selected minigame. They’re all different – some more enjoyable than others – but all boil down to pressing buttons in time. There’s a table football-inspired round where you need to push a button at the right time to score a goal, another where you need to shoot the right keys on a piano, and another where you need to correctly identify the musical instruments that are being played. Others will see you repeating rhythms, pushing the right notes or following the movements of an on-screen character.

There are more than 20 minigames altogether, and you don’t get to choose what comes up. It means you may end up playing the same minigames regularly, while some you’ve never seen. It’s a shame that there’s no way to try them all out, even if it’s just against AI pigeon competitors.

Headbangers: Rhythm Royale review

There are AI opponents in Headbangers: Rhythm Royale, which is a relief. Of course, an online game lives and dies on its playerbase, and being a battle royale game, you need 30 players before you can start a game. Thankfully, if your lobby doesn’t fill within a couple of minutes, any empty player spaces will be filled in by bots.

While playing against bots isn’t the most challenging, they’re not completely useless: we’ve never had a problem getting to the final round, but in that sudden death finale we’ve still had to be at the top of our pigeon-rhythm game to come out on top. Ultimately, we’re just glad they’re there: it means Headbangers: Rhythm Royale can live on even if its player base dwindles.

We hope that, at least for the foreseeable future, Headbangers maintains a healthy player count, however. It deserves to: this is a colourful, joyful game that’s simply a delight to play. It’s a very fun twist on the battle royale genre, testing your reflexes and listening skills rather than how dirty your competitive play can be.

Headbangers: Rhythm Royale review

Saying that, there’s still a bit of room for dirty play here: players can grab power-ups and items as they play. Some of those will give them an advantage, maybe making the minigame easier for them for a short time, or even giving them a free pass to make a mistake. Others will affect other players, putting distractions on screen and making it harder to concentrate. Think of them like pick-ups in a karting game: a pain in the butt, but part of the fun.

One of our favourite things about Headbangers: Rhythm Royale are the brilliant costumes you can unlock and dress your pigeon in. Some items you’ll unlock simply by playing; others can be purchased with an in-game currency you’ll earn over time. It’s important to note there are no microtransactions here: it’s an in-game economy only. The more you play, the more you’ll unlock: it’s as simple as that. Dress up your pigeon as an 80s rocker, as a fly, or even as a Worm. Yes, it’s a game published by Team17: of course there’s a reference to Worms here.

Colourful, ridiculous and great fun, we’ve had a whale pigeon of a time with Headbangers: Rhythm Royale. Giving a musical twist the battle royale genre works surprisingly well, making a multiplayer game that’s more accessible than most – even if you’re not super competitive. We do wish there was a way to play locally – this would make an excellent local party game – but the inclusion of bots means the game can stay alive even if its playerbase dwindles. We hope it doesn’t, though.

Headbangers: Rhythm Royale Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Headbangers: Rhythm Royale is based on the PS5 version of the game, via a code provided by the publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.

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