Avicii Invector makes for a great rhythm-action game and also a fitting, psychedelic memorial for the Swedish musician — if only he could have played it.
Like the best rhythm-action games, Avicii Invector makes you appreciate music; not just its head-bopping effect, but its construction and artistry. A transporting, mesmeric title with its fair share of poignancy, both in its trippy high-speed galactic aesthetic and how it immortalizes Swedish electronic DJ Tim Bergling, this is a fine bit of work with the added bonus of its sales helping to support the Tim Bergling Foundation. Now you can aid those with mental health issues while also revisiting your messiest nights out, during which no doubt all manner of atrocities were committed to some of the pulsing hits collected here.
There are 25 of those hits, grouped into themed worlds with psychedelic morphing environments, and across three well-balanced difficulties, the player navigates the breaks, builds and drops through an intuitive rhythm-action system with real staying power. Piloting a spaceship corralled along tracks and occasionally through the stratosphere, players match the relevant buttons on their keyboard or gamepad while hopping merrily either laterally or dimensionally to hit them all. A blend of two track types — 2D, in which you change lanes side-to-side, and 3D, in which you tip the triangular tunnel onto its appropriate side — and the occasional laidback jaunt through floating targets, keeps each song varied and challenging.
This system, its mechanical pleasures aside, gives shape to Avicii Invector‘s tracklist, allowing you to appreciate the build to a heavy drop and then wallow in its aftermath as you zoom through pulsating neon backdrops. That feeling of being drunk and near-delirious is evoked almost constantly and builds to trance-like crescendos, an effect exacerbated by the game’s equivalent of Guitar Hero‘s Star Power, which sets your little craft off on rocket thrusters as fireworks detonate in the sky. It’s quite something.
Less noteworthy, and thankfully cropping up only your first time through the tracks, is a disposable “story” told in hand-drawn interstitials that feels slightly ill-fitting for a game so resolutely about sound and motion. That first time through will take a couple of hours should you only play each song once, though the desire to revisit your favorites with a better knowledge of their layout might prove too much for many. Higher difficulties add additional face buttons to match and less signposting when it comes to flipping your ship around the track, and to me, the challenge seems designed to be tackled in its logical order — easy through to medium through to hard, starting from the top of the tracklist and working your way down each time. Concepts are introduced gradually in earlier worlds before they test you in earnest later; anyone skipping around might find the lurch in difficulty to be overwhelming — better-known hits clustered in the late-game should be seen as more of a reward for mastering the tracks until that point, not an enticing challenge out of the gate.
Still, these are very minor quibbles. Overall, Avicii Invector is an excellent rhythm-action game as addictive and compelling as the best of them and deserves to be played on its artistic merits alone. But the total package is a breathless memorial for an iconic figure in contemporary music, designed not just to eulogize him but to continue his art and his values through its appreciation for the hits and the sharing of its revenue. This is a can’t-miss release for fans of the genre or Avicii, and a strong recommendation for everyone else too.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.