There are rhythm games, there are runners — and then there are rhythm runners. This mash-up of two favourite genres is still rare in the big wide world of mobile gaming; you’ve got Streetboy, Record Run and Steven Universe: Soundtrack Attack, but few others. Throwing its headphones into the ring is Run the Beat, first-prize winner of the Big Indie Pitch Berlin 2019. This new rhythm runner from Mousetrap Games will test your timing and charm your socks off. Here are three reasons to pick it up and play.

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Engaging gameplay

In Run the Beat, you control Noty — a cute purple-furred creature chasing after the wizard who stole its treasured golden headphones. Throughout each of the 31 levels, you must jump, somersault, roll, swipe — and even turn invisible — to dodge or destroy obstacles in your way. Obstacles are synchronised to the soundtrack of the level, so as you dash across the side-scrolling 2D stages, timing is everything. The music itself is an enjoyable mix of famous hits from artists like Lady Gaga, Aretha Franklin, and Boney M, as well as original songs, and every new level you unlock comes with a different track to run to. Levels are strewn with gold coins that, among other things, can be swapped for amusing outfits; dress Noty up as everything from a top-hatted, cane-swinging gent to a James Bond-style spy. On top of unlocking levels and skins, Run the Beat keeps you engaged by encouraging you to beat your top scores and to complete the mini-quests for more rewards.

Appealing visuals

While Noty bounding about with its tongue out is an enjoyable sight, there is a lot more to admire about Run the Beat’s visuals. The levels all share a hand-painted look and are set within otherworldly environments; at times it feels as though you’re running through a children’s pop-up book. There are loads of fun, surreal details dotted about the backgrounds, from giant fish and floating boats to wonky houses and bemused sea gulls. Despite being 2D, there’s also a sense of depth to the levels thanks to different layers in the foreground and background. All this adds up to a game that has its own distinctive visual appeal.

Varying difficulties

Difficulty is an essential part of the replay value in games such as this. Run the Beat allows you to make things as easy or hard for Noty and yourself as you like, with five different difficulty levels: easy, normal, hard, very hard and mayhem. Although you’ll probably have to replay tougher levels several times to complete them, regular checkpoints mean you won’t have to restart every time, and they help to benchmark your progress. There are also two main gameplay modes: Arcade Mode and Chill Mode. Arcade Mode features colourful on-screen indicators prompting you to perform certain moves to the beat, and scores you — or punishes you — based on how accurate your timing is. You can then rack up combos with successive perfect hits, and your final score will give you a leaderboard ranking. Chill Mode dispenses with the indicators and scores, letting you enjoy a more relaxed playthrough.

Sound good? Then chase down that wizard and retrieve Noty’s headphones — on the beat, of course. You can download Run the Beat for free on Android and iOS now.