Have you tried… finding your rhythm across dreamy levels in Melatonin?

(Image credit: Half Asleep)

Whenever I play a rhythm game, I fall into what can only be described as a flow state. The world around me slips away for a spell, and my attention is entirely focused on hitting the right button at just the right time. I think that's why I've always gravitated towards them over the years, but I've also always enjoyed how creative and challenging some of the best rhythm games can be. So as soon as I clapped eyes on Melatonin from developer Half Asleep, I just knew I had to try it out. 

With its soft-hued pastel colors and imaginative hand-drawn levels, Melatonin is a beautiful rhythm game that's easy to pick up and play. Across five chapters set in the subconscious, each night plays host to a different array of dreams that creatively explore aspects of the main character's life. Featuring engaging animations and music you can't help but bop your head to, every level offers up a unique rhythm-based challenge that captures the feeling or subject it represents. Offering up 20 levels to complete, different modes to try out, and plenty of accessibility options that allow you to tailor your experience, there's a lot to love about Half Asleep's delightfully detailed rhythm gem.  

Practice makes perfect  

In Melatonin, every level will present you with a practice phase to allow you to learn and get to grips with the visual cues and sounds of the dream. The practice mode guides you with a timing circle and metronome, and the key inputs show on screen so you can see how to perfectly time when to hit the right button, which on the Switch shifts between the A or shoulder buttons throughout the levels. Once you've gotten a feel for the rhythm, you can then move onto the scored mode which removes the guiding features -  you now have to look out for and listen to the cues you heard in the practice round to hit the button perfectly in time with the beat. 

Once you've conquered the standard scoring mode, you also have the option of hard mode, which can change up the speed and intensity of inputs. The dreams do get progressively more challenging, so practicing really is key. Happily, though, if you find yourself struggling, Half Asleep makes it clear up front that you can enable the guiding features during all modes in the accessibility settings. I myself greatly appreciated having the option to have the visual and audio assists on when I found any dream a little too challenging. Other settings also help to tailor the experience further, such as the easy scoring option which reduces the amount your score gets penalized for hitting a button too late or early. It's great to see accessible features included and it made my time with Melatonin all that more enjoyable.

Stuff dreams are made of


(Image credit: Half Asleep)

The dream levels themselves offer lots of variety, with every single one presenting a different challenge and theme. The first dream, for example, revolves around food. Sitting on a flying chair with a fork and knife in hand, I listen out for the musical cue and watch the animation of a pizza box as it gets closer to me to time when to hit the button. Successfully doing so at just the right moment sees the main character get a mouthful of pizza which fires out of the box in time to the music. At the end of a level you'll earn yourself a score with stars that are needed to unlock the final dream in a chapter. 

The last level creatively combines sections from all of the dreams within the chapter. It's a great little challenge to end on each time, and just reiterates how much each dream varies. From a dream about dating that sees me swiping left and right on a smartphone, to jumping across different ladders to outrun rising lava in a level about stress, there are so many memorable rhythm challenges to discover in Melatonin. And if you've ever fancied putting together your own rhythm game, each dream has a level editor option so you can put together your own challenge. 

With catchy music, imaginative levels, helpful settings, and a lovely art style, Melatonin is well worth a try - especially if you're fan of rhythm games.

Melatonin is out now on PC and Nintendo Switch. 

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.