Rhythm Doctor hits all the right notes
You! Intern! Glad you’re here. I’m really pressed for time so I’ll be brief — this hospital is understaffed and overworked. We have a whole lotta patients suffering from chest pains and heart conditions with few providers to give them the time and care they need, so we’ve launched a new remote defibrillation internship program where interns such as yourself can administer treatments from home. How? By pressing a button on the seventh beat to defib their hearts. Got it? Good — smash that button and treat those patients!
Such is the life of the healthcare providers (and interns!) in Rhythm Doctor, a unique pixel art rhythm game where you “heal patients by defibrillating in time to their heartbeats.” Currently being developed and self-published by Malaysian/Peruvian dev team 7th Beat Games, Rhythm Doctor channels the genre giants like Rhythm Heaven while still creating something entirely its own. Although it’s still in Early Access, Rhythm Doctor already has over 12,000 positive reviews, receiving the highly coveted “Overwhelmingly Positive” rating on Steam for its catchy tunes, fun gameplay, and humanizing storyline.
Rhythm Doctor has players taking on the role of themselves, the newest (only?) intern in the hospital’s experimental Rhythm Doctor program. Due to the staff shortage, some resourceful doctors have put together a remote program that allows stand-in providers like you to treat patients with heart conditions. This means that you’ll be pressing a button to defibrillate their hearts and get it beating to a proper rhythm. Pressing a single button at the right time seems simple enough, but patients aren’t a monolith — each one will need specialized care and treatment to solve their issues. Think you have what it takes, intern?
First thing’s first — this is a damn good rhythm game. I couldn’t stop thinking about Rhythm Heaven in the sense that the gameplay itself is simplistic in concept but challenging in practice. Oh sure, you might be able to press the space bar on the seventh beat each time on the first level, but what happens later on when there’s an atypical beat? What about when the tempo speeds up and slows down? Multiple patients at once? How about when the game changes into windowed mode and dances around your computer monitors (yeah that was a delightful trip)? The mechanics of pressing a button may not change, but everything else about Rhythm Doctor can and likely will.
Weaving between levels is Rhythm Doctor’s storyline, which will hit close to home for anyone who has worked in healthcare. Tired, overworked doctors grab a protein bar and a power nap for a 20 minute lunch before quickly making their rounds, feeling like they never have enough time to truly see their patients. Their patients, on the other hand, are doing their best to rest and recover, but without getting the proper attention feel slightly neglected.
Meanwhile, those who don’t work in a hospital setting use their sub-par observational skills to perpetuate half-truths about providers, sowing discord where none needed to be. As I watched the full-on musical in one of the boss levels play out this exhausting scene, I got flashbacks to my days working in healthcare; I have a strong suspicion that someone on 7th Beat’s team worked in a similar setting, as everything is just perfectly on the nose when it comes to how these organizations work and how providers, patients, and politicians feel.
As for the music, Rhythm Doctor provides a plethora of sick beats married perfectly to their respective levels. From techno to jazz, from lofi to musicals, Rhythm Doctor’s OST has a wide variety of genres that’ll be sure to please just about anyone. One of my favorites was the glitch-hop level with the Japanese flute instrumentals, although I did really enjoy the pacing of the jazzy coffee shop conversational level. And with each level featuring a sort of music video to complement the audio, Rhythm Doctor is a genuine feast for the eyes and ears.
If I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t have a single complaint for Rhythm Doctor — this game is creativity on steroids. If it wasn’t still in Early Access, I’d easily give Rhythm Doctor a perfect score without hesitation, and there are over 12,000 people on Steam who would readily agree with me. If you loved Rhythm Heaven, you have to get Rhythm Doctor. If you’re wondering if there are any good rhythm games still being made, you have to get Rhythm Doctor. If you’re looking for something that takes risks and plays along with players, you have to get Rhythm Doctor. If you just want a good game, you have to get Rhythm Doctor. So… you know. Get Rhythm Doctor, Stat!
Be sure to check out Rhythm Doctor on Steam today!