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Melatonin Review

Dream a little dream

Did you know that melatonin is a hormone created by the brain in response to darkness, in turn playing a role in your sleep patterns? Well you do now, and though it doesn’t have much of an effect on its namesake Melatonin, created by David Huynh, the game itself does explore the concept of dreamy landscapes and unusual thoughts when the brain is at rest. The results are a rhythm game that doesn’t follow the rules of the genre and offers one of the most accessible in the process.

Melatonin introduces a seemingly hard-worked, troubled young adult on their couch, and the various dreams that come to them at night. Each dream is a different part of their life, from work to money, food to social media, and each plays out through a rhythm game that requires but a few keyboard or button inputs to interact at the right time with the on-screen prompts. It certainly sounds traditional when you put it like that, but when compared to the many other games out there that test your timing and patience, Melatonin focuses on chill beats and a kind flow that can be easily picked up and played.

Each of the five chapters introduces new mechanics, but it never becomes overly complex in its execution. You either press or hold an input at the right time based on the beat, with a three-star rating determining your result by the end and the option of practising if you need it. The better your rating, the quicker you’ll unlock hard mode for every level along with the finale of each chapter that cleverly blends the levels together into one.

Kinda obvious which one was my favourite level

Some levels clicked with me more than others. One had me timing a laser pistol on alien invaders within a virtual reality space, another had me watering plants at a much slower pace. There’s a nice mix of ideas all told, with none of them ever feeling like the same thing twice as they cleverly mix up the tempo when it’s needed. It’s actually refreshing to play a rhythm game that doesn’t infuriate when you just miss out on a high score, and I didn’t have to touch the settings to ensure my timing was right, something I find myself constantly adjusting in other games.

Melatonin isn’t an overly long experience, it took me but a few short hours to unlock every level and complete hard mode on the majority of them. However, as with all rhythm games, the challenge comes in mastering each level and unlocking everything within, and if that’s your thing then Melatonin will hold plenty for you. More importantly, a heavy emphasis has been placed on accessibility, meaning no matter your level of skill you’ll have an option available to you to make things as easy or as hard as you want, such as showing or hiding the on-screen prompts or adding an easier to follow audio cue.

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There’s also an included level editor that allows you to go back into any existing stage and create your own beat based on the included soundtrack and available interactions. It’s a nice touch, though for now there doesn’t seem to be a way to share your results easily with other players, which seems like a missed opportunity. There are also no leaderboards to compete with others online, though that’s clearly not Melatonin’s intention to do so which is perfectly fine. It’s less about the fight and more the vibes.

Every stage cleverly reflects the pitfalls of life

Final Thoughts

Combined with its almost calming visual presence and an enjoyable, easy listening score, Melatonin stands out from the pack as the complete opposite to the likes of Metal: Hellsinger. You won’t be playing it for hours on end, but it’s the kind of game you can sit back and relax to for a little while, and maybe pass the time away after a bad day. It’s designed with everyone in mind, making it the most accessible rhythm game on the market and then some.

Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher

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Melatonin Review
Chill to the vibes
Melatonin is a short but kind experience, a hint of melancholy and a splash of retro vibes. It’s less about the challenge (though it's there for those who seek it) and more about chilling out to some cool tracks across some fun levels, with accessibility that should be applauded.
The Good
Clean, enjoyable visual style
Excellent musical vibes
One of the most accessible rhythm games out there
As easy or as challenging as you want
The Bad
It's a short experience that goes by almost too quickly
Level editor lacks some key features
8.5
Get Around It
  • Half Asleep
  • Half Asleep
  • PC
  • December 16, 2022

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
Melatonin Review
Chill to the vibes
Melatonin is a short but kind experience, a hint of melancholy and a splash of retro vibes. It’s less about the challenge (though it’s there for those who seek it) and more about chilling out to some cool tracks across some fun levels, with accessibility that should be applauded.
The Good
Clean, enjoyable visual style
Excellent musical vibes
One of the most accessible rhythm games out there
As easy or as challenging as you want
The Bad
It’s a short experience that goes by almost too quickly
Level editor lacks some key features
8.5
Get Around It
Written By Mark Isaacson

Known on the internet as Kartanym, Mark has been in and out of the gaming scene since what feels like forever, growing up on Nintendo and evolving through the advent of PC first person shooters, PlayStation and virtual reality. He'll try anything at least once and considers himself the one true king of Tetris by politely ignoring the world records.

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