We don’t really get that many rhythm games when you think about it. There are some that are really great and are understandably a lot of people’s general favorites, like Rez, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Audiosurf, and Thumper. And I think the reason for this relative scarcity is simple: it’s so damn hard to make a good rhythm game. So you can imagine my excitement when a new one that arrived just before the end of the year caught my eye.
Melatonin is a different kind of rhythm game that doesn’t necessarily require you to travel through an abstract environment to physically reach a destination at the end of a route. Developed by a one-man band, the game explores the life of a young, drifting average citizen, via a spontaneous nap, through his dreams and waking life.
The first thing you’ll notice is the inviting, cozy play aesthetic of the soft pastel tones that make up Melatonin’s color scheme. The game is divided into five chapters, each of which lets you visit inner worlds centered around an activity (like going to the gym or using dating apps) or a theme (like work and money). The simple tutorial is followed by a helpful practice mode before beginning each level. This is handy as it changes the speed and even specific keys you need to press to time the beat. I’ve ramped up the various accessibility settings to make life easier.
Your character plays out his life in these different dreams. For example, you compete against a muscular version of yourself at the gym and need to time your button presses over the center circle to perform a proper bicep curl. If you are dreaming of dating, the right timing will ensure that you can swipe the poop and robot emjois off the screen while sending likes to the profiles represented by the cuter love heart emojis. One of my favorite (and hardest) levels is where you’re forced to grab coins that are raining down from the sky while sitting on an inflated piggy bank. Indeed, it is a magnificent nightmare display of trickle-down economics, in contrast to the reality of our current social utopia.
These different levels feel like they are speaking to each of us in different ways, as if addressing those fears and ailments that piss us off in our daily lives. The game ends up feeling oddly uplifting after you’ve finished each chapter.
It’s funny how we’ve turned our hopes and dreams into meme language when we talk about wanting to “manifest” such goals these days. I always think of one old BBC Horizon documentary about dreams, and how they are literally a way for us to hone our skills and get better. When everything is falling apart around us, it’s hard to grasp the importance of our literal dreams and the value of sleep. It takes a certain vulnerability to admit that you’re human and want something better for yourself, whether it’s a new career goal, a relationship, or the end of a particular concern. Melatonin reminds us of this and feels special. In the new year, it’s time to manifest.
https://www.eurogamer.net/games-of-2022-melatonin-was-the-best-chance-to-manifest Games of 2022: Melatonin was the best chance to manifest