The best rhythm games to prove you can keep the beat

Sayonara Wild Hearts - best rhythm games
(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

When it comes to the best rhythm games, hitting every note is crucial. Not only in the literal sense, of course, but these games need to achieve a pitch-perfect balance of catchy songs and fun gameplay mechanics. Some of these games combine elements of the best roguelikes with the best FPS games, but all of them offer something different in the realm of musical rhythm games.

Whether you're looking for classics like Guitar Hero or newer offerings, this list has plenty to keep you going if you love rocking out with virtual instruments. If you've ever spent hours in your friend's basement, strumming away at a plastic guitar on a Nintendo Wii, then you're going to love this list. Who knows, maybe you're a real0life musician looking to give it a go in the video game realm, too? 

Whatever your tastes may be, here are ten of the best rhythm games to have you rocking out on your own or with some friends.

10.  Crypt of the Necrodancer 

Crypt of the Necrodancer

(Image credit: Brace Yourself Games)

Developers: Brace Yourself Games, Blitworks
Platforms: iOS, Android, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch

A roguelike rhythm game, you say? Yup, it's Crypt of the Necrodancer, a beat-matching dungeon crawler set to an original soundtrack full of earworms. Move your character to the beat of the song that's playing, and suffer the consequences (impaired movement) when you miss a beat. Some players even import their own music or hook up a dance pad instead of using traditional controls to really up the ante. Crypto of the Necrodancer is a brilliantly unique take on the rhythm game that is a must-play for anyone interested in the genre. 

9. Thumper


(Image credit: Drool)

Developer: Drool
Platforms: iOS, Android, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch, Oculus

Thumper is incredibly cool. Billed as a "rhythm violence game," Thumper has you guiding a beetle-like creature along tracks that take you through bizarre worlds. Press buttons to hit "notes" that pop up along the track in time with the background music while also avoiding obstacles (like spikes, ouch) and defeating enemies along the way. You can take one hit, but if you take a second, you'll start over from the last checkpoint, so you'll need to be on point with Thumper. This game is full of creepy cosmic entities and other horrors, and the sinister score only adds to the unease. This is a horror rhythm game, so prepare yourself.  

8. Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory 

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch

Kingdom Hearts fans will love Melody of Memory, a rhythmic action game that offers both single and multiplayer gameplay. Press buttons along with the beat, with misses affecting your health. The game will end if it runs out, so keep an eye on those beats. You can level up health and attack powers, with every character having a ranged and melee attack. The story campaign takes you through the Kingdom Hearts story so far, with players completing songs and then facing an enemy from the original game that the song is based on. Melody of Memory is a fun romp through the Kingdom Hearts series full of iconic Disney songs - what more could you ask for? 

7. Rock Band series

Rock Band 3

(Image credit: Harmonix)

Developers: Harmonix, EA Mobile
Platforms: iOS, Android, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Nintendo DS

Rock Band takes the Guitar Hero formula and applies it to an entire four-piece band, giving you a chance to play the drums, bass, and guitar, and drop some vocals for some rocking music. There's nothing quite like getting your friends together to do raucous covers of Paramore until the wee hours of the morning, your mom banging on the floor to get you to shut up. A Rock Band set is kinda hard to find right now, and you can't buy songs in the store anymore, but its legacy will never be forgotten.  

6. Dance Dance Revolution series 

Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA 2

(Image credit: Konami)

Developer: Konami
Platforms: PS2, Xbox, Nintendo Wii

Everybody loves a little DDR, whether you're playing on a crinkly plastic fold-up mat in your basement or on the impressive arcade version in your local Dave and Buster's. Dance Dance Revolution is an iconic entry in the rhythm game genre, offering players across the globe a chance to get a serious workout in while they game. I don't know how much actual dancing you're doing when you play Dance Dance Revolution, as you're really timing footsteps with the falling arrows on-screen, but you'll certainly break a sweat. With a great selection of music to choose from, DDR is always a good time - if you can still find it to play. 

5. Fuser


(Image credit: Harmonix)

Developer: Harmonix
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC

If you've ever gone to a music festival, looked up at the effortlessly cool DJ mixing music that has thousands of people dancing, and said "I wanna be that," then Fuser is for you. With an extensive music selection that you can add to with in-game purchases, Fuser gives you all the tools to become a sick DJ. This isn't like DJ Hero, which came with a plastic turntable that required you to hit colored buttons on time to a beat. Instead, Fuser gives you four on-screen turntables that you can drop records onto, seamlessly mixing a 50 Cent beat with an Evanescence chorus. Timing your additions to a downbeat will hype up the audience even more, as will pulling records at the right time. It's all about feeding off the crowd and keeping up with the beat - Fuser is an absolute blast. 

4. Beat Saber

Beat Saber

(Image credit: Beat Games)

Developer: Beat Games
Platforms: PS4, PC, Oculus

Beat Saber is a fantastic VR rhythm game that basically lets you be a Jedi at a rave - and who doesn't want to be that? In Beat Saber, you'll slash the beats from some of the best bops out there as they fly towards you in a futuristic cyberpunk world. Beat Saber has some seriously great beats in it, and developer Beat Games just keeps adding more: you can slash the beats of songs from Panic! at the Disco, Lady Gaga, Green Day, BTS, and more. 

3. Metal: Hellsinger

Metal: Hellsinger gameplay

(Image credit: The Outsiders)

Developer: The Outsiders
Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X, PS5, PS4, Xbox One

This is one for everyone who enjoys listening to some loud, energetic metal while playing FPS games. Hack and slash your way through Satan's damned legions, performing actions to the beat as you're accompanied all the while by a unique soundtrack, featuring performances by vocalists from Arch Enemy, Lorna Shore, and Lamb of God to name a few. Not only is it a great test of how well you can stick to a beat, but you'll deal even more damage for your rhythmic demon-slaying than you will for just shooting stuff with reckless abandon. Equal parts one of the best rhythm games and an adrenaline-pumping horde shooter, raise your horns and get stuck into Metal: Hellsinger.

2. Sayonara Wild Hearts

Sayonara Wild Hearts

(Image credit: Simogo)

Developer: Simogo
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, iOS, Mac, PC, Nintendo Switch

Sayonara Wild Hearts is as fun as it is beautiful, with music that will stay in your head long after you stop playing. With a beautiful story about heartbreak and the power of following your heart, you'll step into the neon-soaked world with the beautiful notes of Claire de Lune welcoming you, before you jump into an action rhythm game that will entrance you. Sayonara Wild Hearts tasks you with weaving a motorcycle through 24 levels, gathering hearts as you weave in and out of lanes and hit quick time events that sync up with the incredible music. Good luck putting this one down.  

1. Guitar Hero series

Guitar Hero

(Image credit: Activision)

Developer: Harmonix
Platforms: PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PC, Mac

It's hard to top the Guitar Hero series, which revolutionized the rhythm game and made it so popular it spawned tons of copycat games. Guitar Hero lets you be exactly that: a guitar hero with a plastic guitar, playing to a crowd that will cheer wildly when you successfully play "notes," but will boo you off the stage if you miss too many chords. All of Guitar Hero's iterations let you create your own rockstar persona with customizable outfits and looks, and each game seemed to get better and better music. The cultural conversation around successfully completing some of its most difficult songs (Through the Fire and Flames, anyone) made talented Guitar Hero players the stuff of legend. And although it's gone the same way as Rock Band, a new Guitar Hero game was discussed as part of Microsoft's Activision-Blizzard purchase. Perhaps my dreams of being a rockstar aren't dead yet… 

If you're looking for more, check out the best stealth games and the best shooter games.

Alyssa Mercante

Alyssa Mercante is an editor and features writer at GamesRadar based out of Brooklyn, NY. Prior to entering the industry, she got her Masters's degree in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Newcastle University with a dissertation focusing on contemporary indie games. She spends most of her time playing competitive shooters and in-depth RPGs and was recently on a PAX Panel about the best bars in video games. In her spare time Alyssa rescues cats, practices her Italian, and plays soccer.

With contributions from