I’m not sure how many Invector titles it’ll take before Hello There Games realise that the franchise doesn’t need context. We don’t need a bolted-on campaign to lend an air of forced authenticity to proceedings. It felt weird enough in Aviici Invector when we had to intercut our stirring tribute to the late, great Aviici with a dull yarn about a space pilot looking for chocolate, and now in Invector: Rhythm Galaxy, we’re doing something just as pointless for the sake of a “campaign”.
The “story” this time around is just as boring and unexciting, with a bunch of teen or teen-adjacent space pilots on a journey through multiple galaxies while listening to cool songs and playing playground games. Within just a few levels I was rolling my eyes and jabbing the “skip dialogue” button, because I just feel this stuff was getting in the way of the actual gameplay, which in itself is pretty damn good.
By now, if you’ve played any Invector game then you know the drill. You have a spacecraft that flies along a fairly narrow space corridor, and you gather speed by hitting button prompts as you pass over them. At the lowest difficulty you’ll need to worry about LB, A and sliding the left stick to and from to shift left and right, while occasionally hitting the left trigger to boost when the meter is full.
At higher levels it increases the score threshold needed to pass a level, and adds new buttons into the mix. The jump from Casual to Normal still feels almost abusively steep, though, and even on the former setting the game will occasionally throw a sudden curveball your way, such as changing the mission parameters for one seemingly random level.
It’s a beautiful game though, even if you don’t really get to enjoy a lot of it because it’s whistling at such a speed. The colours are stunning, each environment carefully crafted to deliver a sense of pulse-pounding speed, as though you really are blasting through a cosmos of light and colour.
Obviously, though, it’s the soundtrack that makes the difference. With 40 tracks to fly to, there’s a superb selection of songs from Royal Blood to Tina Turner, few of which are repeated to the point of annoyance. Free-form single and multiplayer modes allow you to experience any song you’ve already unlocked as many times as you like, too. You can also extend the lifetime of the game by jumping into the multiplayer and challenging others to beat your score.
Invector: Rhythm Galaxy plays wonderfully well. It’s smooth and responsive, although it could use a little more rumble in the feedback. I played a lot of it on Steam Deck, where it looks beautiful, by the way, and it was smooth here as it is on PC. There is a sense here though that the series has kind of run its course. If you’re a fan of the genre and franchise then you may well advocate for more of the same each time, but the truth is that if you’ve played an Invector game before then you’ve kind of played this already. The songs may be different, but the gameplay is almost unchanged.
Controlling your spacecraft through floating rings, and hitting jumps and boosters just right still feels incredibly satisfying, but we’ve definitely done it before. It also feels weirdly anachronistic that one of the very best experiences that Rhythm Galaxy has to offer is playing a level over Tina Turner’s “The Best “, a song released way back in 1989.
Ultimately, Invector: Rhythm Galaxy is a very good rhythm game, of a calibre befitting a studio that has been making them for as long as Hello There Games has, but it’s also very safe and very familiar, doing little to freshen up proceedings besides adding an uncomfortably out-of-place narrative. There are some great tracks here, and it’s certainly beautiful to look at, but there’s not a lot here to really get your blood pumping.
Some great songs
Campaign "story" is boring
Sudden difficulty spikes
Adds nothing new to the formula