Melatonin is a stylish indie rhythm game with many great levels, but which are the best?
The Rock Band era may have been the best time for rhythm games, but games like Beat Saber and Metal: Hellsinger keep the genre alive with new ideas and fun gameplay. Melatonin is much smaller, but its lo-fi beats and dream-like levels make it a great option if you’d rather relax than be on the edge of your seat.
Melatonin’s levels are all based on the things we think about, and you have to play rhythm-based minigames to get to the next ones. You can play these short stages over and over on different levels, but some are much more fun than others and are worth going back to even after the credits roll.
Melatonin has many levels where you only need to press one button, but some of the harder ones can use up to three at once. In the second part, there is a minigame called “Dating.” It is one of the first to use different sounds to tell you when to press one of two buttons in time with the music.
The main goal of relationship is to find out if the relationship profile that comes up on your screen is good or bad by swiping left or right on it. When the screen goes away, it’s even harder to figure out which button to push because you can’t see any hints.
Before you go to sleep or in your dreams, it’s not always fun to think about your past, and even the main character in Melatonin would rather burn away the memories than think about them. The Past is one of the last levels you’ll unlock, and instead of asking you to press a lot of buttons, it asks you to hold down just one for a certain amount of time.
This depends on how big the picture is that flashes in the dream. There are three different sizes, and you only have a second to decide which one to burn. The Past might seem hard at first, but once you play it a few times and get a feel for its speed and structure, it becomes a lot of fun.
Shopping is one of the first levels you’ll play in Melatonin’s first part, and you might go back to it more often than other levels. It has one of the simpler ideas: things fall into boxes to the beat of the music, and you have to repeat the pattern. However, it is still hard enough to keep you interested.
The hardest part of Shopping is learning how to time things right. It doesn’t leave much room for mistakes, and the pattern changes so often that you have to be ready for anything. Shopping is a game that you’ll want to play until you get a perfect score once you know what to expect.
Melatonin starts off with steps about relaxing things like scrolling through your phone and buying stuff, but as you get closer to the end, it starts to talk about deeper things like the mind and how things work. Time is one of these last stages, and it will test how well you know when and for how long to hold down a button.
Time may seem like a lot at first, just like The Past did. In different places in front of you, portals open up that throw clocks at you or between each other. It’s hard to figure out how far away an opening is and how long it takes to swing your bat. You might mess up the first few times, but once you get the hang of it, Time is one of the best stages for letting your mind wander.
Melatonin is often compared to Rhythm Heaven, and the Exercise level is a great example of how similar the two games are. This stage is in the second part of the game. Like Dating, you’ll need to use at least two buttons to pass it.
Exercise is like Shopping in that you have to watch a pattern and then repeat it in time with the music. The main character’s ripped dream self will lift either the left, the right, or both dumbbells. You have to remember the order and do it yourself when the camera changes.
Most of the time, it’s not fun to dream about work, especially if you wake up and have to go to your real job right away. Even the main character in Melatonin has these dreams, which are much more fun than they should be because they have a beat to them.
Work is another stage where you have to press one of two buttons or both of them at the same time when you hear a certain sound. Work starts out pretty easy, but once the camera starts to pan over an endless maze of pink-hooded workers who make it hard to focus, it quickly gets harder. Work is a lot easier and more fun thanks to some visual hints.
Food is probably the first level you’ll play in Melatonin, and it does a great job of teaching you how to play and setting the tone for the rest of the game. The idea is simple: tap a button when a pizza slice, burger, or donut comes flying at you.
Before the food gets to your mouth, all you have to do is press a button. The speed and path of the things depend on the animation of the box they are in. To make things even more interesting, a group of clouds will sometimes block your view, so you’ll have to rely on sounds and small visual cues to know when to open your mouth for a tasty bite.
In our dreams, the newest and most expensive technology is sometimes easier to get than it is in real life. The main character of Melatonin dreams of having a fancy-looking VR headset. Tech shows up in the first story. When a monster shows up on the screen, you have to tap a button.
Tech is not like the other levels in the beginning of Melatonin, where you have to remember patterns. Instead, it tests your reflexes. After a robot, zombie, or alien jumps at you, you only have a second to tap a button to shoot it away, and the deeper you go into a level, the faster they come.
Melatonin has a lot of stages that feel like they could only be in Slope Game, but Stress is one of the few that feels like a high-quality action scene. Instead of using Tinder or shopping for new clothes, the main character must quickly jump from ladder to ladder to escape an exploding volcano.
One of the last stages in Melatonin is called “Stress,” and it will put most of what you’ve learned so far to the test. As the hero climbs away from the rising lava, you will have to press one of three buttons to make the protagonist move left, right, or forward to the beat of the epic background music.
Melatonin is mostly about how you feel, and what could be more relaxing than driving across a strange planet to a chill song? Some stages, like Stress and Food, might keep you on your toes, but The Future gives you a feeling of happiness that lets you get into a zen state of mind as you play it.
Even though The Future is one of the game’s last levels, it almost feels like a break after you’ve played some of Melatonin’s hardest minigames. The goal is simple: get rid of the things coming at you by tapping one or two buttons at once, depending on where they are on the screen. Near the end of the level, they will try to trick you, but as soon as you start bopping your head to the beat of “The Future,” it becomes one of the most fun levels in Melatonin.