Move to the beat.
Inside My Radio is an indie platformer that tasks players with falling in rhythm to the soundtrack that accompanies each level. The brief journey takes three separate characters through multiple levels in mostly left-to-right fashion.
Each character features their own general sound, from disco to electronic and reggae/dub. Now, there’s a tune to each level too, and that can be fiddled with in certain segments. Generally speaking, this whole tale of action within a boombox is affected by the sound players hear when they play.
Because, and this is the nifty thing about Inside My Radio, aside from left to right movement, all actions in the game must be performed to the beat. If you want to jump, dash, slam or interact, you have to listen to the music played in the background and hit the beat in order to do it.
It’s actually both easier and harder than it sounds. If you crank the tunes and boast at least a moderately decent sense of rhythm, you’ll be able to pick up on the aural cues and zip through whole stages at a time without making too many errors.
If you’re not really hearing or landing actions to the rhythm, the game can be exceptionally difficult. Moments of error will stack up and you’ll find yourself missing move after move. It’s not really a problem in the early goings of the adventure, but after around an hour of play, you’ll find scenarios where missing one too many beats will get you killed.
That said, you’re almost always a quick checkpoint away, so don’t fret too much about the challenge here. Inside My Radio will never really get tough, aside from the stupid final bossfight, but more on that in a bit. If you can’t seem to find the rhythm, pressing the right bumper on a gamepad will pull up a rhythm helper that shows when, exactly, you should hit.
One would assume that a game that centers itself so squarely around the presence of rhythm and sound would pack an incredible soundtrack. I don’t want to suggest that Inside My Radio’s tunes are bad. They’re serviceable with flashes of greatness here and there, but they don’t necessarily shine the way one would assume they should. I was expecting to be scouring the internet for an OST link after I finished this game. I’m not doing that here, and that’s sort of a bummer.
When the music is hitting the right notes and the level design hits moments of quick brilliance and interesting puzzles, Inside My Radio is at its absolute best. You will find yourself hit those “in the zone” sections a few times, and they constantly drew a smile from me during play. There are moments in each level that are either far too simple or a bit slow, but when the action picks up and the game moves quickly, it’s a blast.
As for the story and length, don’t expect much. There’s a cute little tale here that works just fine, and the characters share a few moments of dialogue exchange throughout, but the 90 minute affair never really sings. Unlike the novelty of the gameplay and the excellence of certain level and tune sections, the story just sort of is.
The game itself is, like I said, short. It all wraps up with a boss battle that feels like it was ripped from the filler section of a licensed game from the '90s. Spikes (in this case hot balls of what appears to be lava) rain from the ceiling as you dodge back and forth. It just felt out of place, and it required no understanding of rhythm which runs against the point of the game. It was just such a weird choice to have this final act of a three-part boss fight as the culmination of a short and otherwise compelling game. It stuck out.
As length is an issue, I was hoping we’d see some sort of NewGame+ mode here. Perhaps the developers could have created the same game over again but with a beat running 1.5x or 2x the speed. That sounds intense and awesome.
As it stands now, Inside My Radio is a really novel concept that’s fun and great for the majority of its play. I give the game this: It never overstays its welcome. It’s too bad that it’s so short, though. I was having fun right up until that last boss battle, and I wanted more.