The best PC rhythm games of 2021 combine satisfying gameplay with an outstanding music selection and plenty of atmospheric visuals.
In this list, we’ll highlight the best rhythm games on PC. From rhythm fighters to roguelikes to VR experiences and everything in between, you’ll soon discover just how diverse and unique the rhythm genre can be.
Lastly, we’ll be updating this list with new titles in the future, so make sure to check back and let us know if we missed any games!
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Friday Night Funkin’
One of the most popular rhythm games of 2021 so far has been Friday Night Funkin’, which draws inspiration from cult classics like Dance Dance Revolution and PaRappa the Rapper.
Additionally, the game’s art style has a distinct early-2000s Flash game aesthetic, which isn’t too surprising when you factor in it was created by Newgrounds members.
It revolves around a character named Boyfriend who’s tasked with defeating various characters in singing contests in order to date Girlfriend.
Battles are represented in-game as separate weeks, and each one incorporates unique themes and flavors of music.
No Straight Roads
No Straight Roads is a rhythm game in which you play as members of an indie rock band looking to save their town from an evil EDM group known as No Straight Roads.
Swapping between Mayday and Zuke, you’ll utilize both characters’ unique music-based weapons and attacks while exploring the eight distinct levels that make up Vinyl City.
Played from a third-person POV, the game features a rhythm-based combat system in which enemies attack to the beat of the music.
Throughout the story, you’ll encounter a variety of giant boss battles that present unique music-based challenges and unlock a skill tree to become stronger.
Developer: 7th Beat Games
Arguably the weirdest entry on this list, Rhythm Doctor is another rhythm game with an interesting premise.
You play as a doctor treating sick patients by tapping the spacebar on the seventh beat of every line; do this repeatedly until the treatment is complete, and the patient has been cured.
Meanwhile, a barrage of increasingly trippy visual and audio effects floods the screen, making it challenging to concentrate on your timing.
These can vary from the screen glitching up to even going completely blank, forcing you to keep track of the count in your head.
Rhythm game aficionados will already be familiar with Thumper‘s pulse-pounding soundtrack, which emphasizes heavy bass drops and a great deal of percussion.
In it, you control a small space beetle protagonist as they zip their way through gorgeous visualized tracks at blistering speeds.
The game includes nine levels of what it calls “rhythm hell,” each with its own dedicated song track complimented by intense, psychedelic visuals.
It’s a solid rhythm game recommendation that’s best experienced in VR.
While there are an exhaustive amount of anime-themed rhythm games, not many are as polished and genuinely fun to play as Muse Dash.
Presented as a side-scrolling platformer, the game sees you controlling one of three charismatic heroines as they parkour their way through vibrant 2D levels in tune with the music.
The game’s soundtrack consists of 30+ upbeat and catchy pop-tracks that match up perfectly with the action on-screen.
This is a great deal when you consider Muse Dash’s relatively low price point, especially if you’re able to catch it on sale.
Developer: Echo Games
Rhythm Fighter is another 2D side-scrolling title that manages to shake things up by combining rhythm-based gameplay with roguelike and fighting game elements.
Each run sees you exploring sprawling levels where you’ll have to defeat enemies in tune with the beat, in addition to walking, rolling, and using special abilities.
The game features a wide array of heroes to play as, each with their own quirks that help keep gameplay exciting.
Additionally, heroes can be further customized with different weapons and skills in the form of beat cards, which are earned by progressing in the game.
Lumines: Remastered is a well-executed update of the classic rhythm puzzle game from the early 2000s.
It’s best described as a music-based Tetris where the goal is to align different colored blocks and form clusters that get cleared once a “timeline” passes.
As rows are removed, new instruments get layered onto the song track being played, adding complexity while also rewarding the player with a fuller sound.
Since the timeline’s behavior is affected by the song currently being played, the level of difficulty can vary greatly.
Developers: Monstars Inc., Resonair
Supporting both traditional gamepad controls and VR headsets, Rez Infinite is a fantastic PC port of the Dreamcast/PS2 rhythm-based rail shooter.
Part remake, part sequel, the game features fully remastered versions of Areas 1-5 from the original Rez along with a brand-new experimental stage called Area X.
Additionally, improvements have been made in regards to graphics and audio, with Rez Infinite supporting higher resolutions and 3D audio.
Aside from belonging to the limited “rhythm shooter” subgenre, Rez has always stood out for its bombastic soundtrack, which is comprised of hard-hitting techno beats that twist and warp throughout each level.
Just Shapes & Beats
Developer: Berzerk Studio
Just Shapes & Beats offers a minimalist approach to rhythm games that somehow still manages to include everything you could want in a rhythm game.
The rules can be broken down as simple as this: avoid shapes, move in tune with the beat, and prepare to lose A LOT.
Due to its bullet-hell design, the game keeps things moving at a consistently fast pace, so staying focused is an absolute must.
It ranks pretty high in terms of stage selection, including 35 hand-crafted levels and tracks from 20+ chiptune/EDM artists.
Sayonara Wild Hearts
Sayonara Wild Hearts is as much a visual delight as it is an auditory one, chronicling the life of a brokenhearted young woman who gets transported to a dreamy world filled with divine heroes and villains.
Broken up into 23 levels, the game sees you guiding the woman through surrealistic landscapes as she collects hearts, avoids obstacles, and battles enemies.
Each level introduces new mechanics ranging from quick-time events to shooting enemies with a bow and arrow.
Wild Hearts’ soundtrack is primarily inspired by pop and synth-wave music, creating a consistent high-energy attitude that’s also reflected through gameplay.
Crypt of the Necrodancer
Developer: Brace Yourself Games
Before releasing their Zelda-inspired spin-off Cadence of Hyrule, Brace Yourself Games had struck gold with their top-down roguelike Crypt of the Necrodancer.
The game is responsible for marrying dungeon crawling with rhythm-based mechanics to deliver a satisfying and rewarding experience.
It’s also a lot more difficult to master than you may think; every action has to be performed in sync with the beat, and some enemies will follow a separate beat that differs from the player’s.
This calls for plenty of mental gymnastics as you try to adjust your movement to match that of your opponent’s; composer Danny Baranowsky created the game’s soundtrack, and there’s a built-in feature that lets you import your own music.
Spin Rhythm XD
Developer: Super Spin Digital
Out of all the entries on this list, Spin Rhythm XD is the only one to incorporate a more traditional lane-based design, something that was a lot more prevalent during the arcade era.
The main objective in Spin Rhythm XD is to match colors and beats by spinning, tapping, and flicking an on-screen wheel throughout hand-made levels with multiple difficulty options.
The game boasts a wide range of controller options, including mouse and keyboard, gamepad, and even physical MIDI DJ turntables.
There are over 40 tracks included in the base game, and you can create custom levels using your favorite songs.
Developer: Beat Games
While it may be exclusive to VR, we would be remiss not to include Beat Saber on this list, especially the PC version.
Described as a “sword-slashing rhythm game,” it sees you using dual-wield virtual sabers to slice through red and blue-colored cubes that appear in tune with the music.
Landing consecutive hits builds up a score multiplier that’s maintained by dodging incoming obstacles that appear throughout the lanes in front of you.
If you’ve ever gotten a chance to play Beat Saber, then you’ll know how great it is for working up a sweat; there’s a lot of physical movement involved with cutting through those virtual blocks, and it’s hard not to get carried away in the heat of the moment.
Developer: RobTop Games
Geometry Dash is a classic rhythm-based platformer that’s been around for a while and is still worth mentioning in 2021.
Nothing too fancy here, just simple yet addictive gameplay, tight controls, and a ton of well-designed levels complimented by a great soundtrack.
The game has come a long way over the years and now features a level editor, more character customization options, and new obstacles/hazards to incorporate into your own stages.
It’s one of those games that look like it would get boring very quickly but ends up sinking its hooks into you after just a few levels.