(content warning: mention of suicide.)
My tastes in music are… rather eclectic. If you’ve ever been a longtime reader of the site, you’ve probably had me write about some of the weirdest stuff and sometimes finding good stuff in them. I end up picking up soundtracks a lot because of the licensed music. Hell, while I may not talk about it a lot on the site here, I really enjoy rhythm games. So when I saw a rhythm game based on one of the most notable EDM artists out there, I had to give it a try, even if I never heard of him before playing it.
Avicii Invector is a rhythm game developed by Hello There Productions, a small developer based out of Gothenburg, Sweden. Originally released in 2017 on the PS4 as simply Invector, the game was updated and re-released in 2019 to more prominently feature the artist whose music was used in it, Avicii. Avicii is the stage name of Tim Bergling, a Swedish EDM musician who was a major worldwide success, releasing two major albums and a few EPs in his lifetime.
Tragically, Avicii committed suicide in 2018 at the young age of 28. In the years that followed, there’s been work released posthumously, an Avicii museum in Stockholm, Sweden, and his family launching The Tim Bergling Foundation, a mental health/suicide awareness charity, in his honor.
I grabbed this game on a cheap discount on Fanatical, a digital discount storefront. Since I’m a fan of rhythm games – glancing at the hundreds of dollars I’ve spent on Rock Band and Guitar Hero stuff over the past decade – I figured I could probably enjoy this game even with only knowing Avicii as “a guy who has a game dedicated to his music.”
The story is rather barebones: A female ship pilot has to send things to various planets, while blasting the songs of Avicii to get from planet to planet. These cutscenes play every few songs, and while they’re mostly non-contextual, they bring a bit of life to the game’s overall feel. After all, if you’re a rhythm game, you either play it super-serious like a Rock Band or you go full over-the-top like a good chunk of the Guitar Hero games did, so for Hello There Games to go for the latter route is a wise call.
Avicii Invector plays rather simply: Press buttons in time with the music for points and to build a combo. While most of the time you’ll be pressing the face buttons, sometimes you’ll also need to hit either shoulder button for lines that are on the track. Changing lanes is handled with the left stick. Higher difficulties add more buttons to press and a lot more lane shifting, which can be quite disorienting if you’re not used to it. Much like most modern rhythm games, if one hits enough notes, they can activate a booster with the triggers which doubles score for a brief time.
While I’m used to games like Rock Band where it’s less about timing and more about making sure you hit the notes, Avicii Invector takes its cues from games like Dance Dance Revolution, where hitting notes right on time gets more points and a bigger combo. This took a bit for me to get used to, but thankfully the timing seems to be rather generous, even with that little gameplay quirk.
In addition, there’s occasionally segments where the note highway changes from a triangle shape to a flat surface, or sometimes will leave the highway completely to a maneuvering the ship into circles to get more points and keep up your combo. This may remind some of you of certain other games where you fly into rings, but it’s a nice deviation from the rhythm gameplay.
Once the song is completed, the player receives a rank – C to S+ – and a score. If one hits 75% of the notes, they passed the song. Passing all the songs in the tier regardless of difficulty will move the player onto the next planet, where more songs await.
For most of my playthrough, I alternated between Easy and Medium, depending on the song’s tempo. It took a bit for me to get used to the rhythm in this game, as I am a bit rusty when it comes to rhythm games. Hell, I always struggled with a lot of harder songs in Guitar Hero games, so some of the middle-tier of songs on Medium started kicking my butt rather quickly, with rapidly-shifting lanes and having to balance between pressing A, X and B alongside the shoulder buttons rather quickly. After a while, I went back to Easy just so I couldn’t get too frustrated and actually finish the rest of the game.
In addition to the ramped up challenge, there are moments where the game put notes on different lanes without warning you, thus I would lose combo as I wasn’t on the right lane to press that button in time. I really wish they gave you the option to hit the button at any angle, or at least made it easier to tell if you needed to shift lanes. Thankfully this is only a problem when the highway is a triangle, as mentioned earlier.
Now, admittedly I don’t follow EDM that closely. EDM is a genre that often feels too pulse-pounding and intense for my tastes. At times, it feels like I have to be under the influence to really enjoy it, and that’s not really my thing. But I don’t hate EDM as a music genre. It’s one of those genres that I’d probably enjoy if I gave it a proper listen. Hell, if someone gave me a good primer on the genre, I’d probably get hooked on it pretty quick, if this game’s soundtrack is any indication.
I thought since Avicii was an EDM musician, the music was gonna be incredibly fast and intense for a rhythm game, but I was proven wrong. Hello There Games struck a good balance between slow songs to get into the groove of things, to quick songs that really get your fingers going on the tough parts. A majority of Avicii’s work is done with featured artists singing the songs – which seems to be fairly common for this genre – so it got me not just introduced to Avicii, but the work of the artists he collaborated with. It’s pretty solid music, all things considered. I never really heard of Avicii before playing this game, and even as someone who was only vaguely familiar with him and his work, I ended up really enjoying the music selection.
Outside of that, there isn’t a whole lot else to mention. There’s local multiplayer where you play songs against each other head to head. There’s a handful of bonus songs. There’s DLC featuring additional songs, as per the norm for this genre. Admittedly, rhythm games are kinda hard to write about as they’re very much a genre that necessitates playing them to really appreciate it.
Hello There Games is still around, and they aren’t done with the Invector concept. While doing some research for this article, I found out that they recently released a sequel: Invector: Rhythm Galaxy. Despite the more generic title, this one features a myriad of tunes licensed from Warner Music Group. I’m glad they got to expand this beyond Avicii, because we’re kinda overdue for new rhythm games these days that aren’t throwbacks or clones of older games. They’ve also released another Avicii rhythm game, Beat Legend: Avicii, for mobile devices. Maybe that’s worth writing a bit about sometime.
Avicii Invector is a pretty good rhythm game. A fun, flashy experience set to the music of a musician we lost way too soon. I’d say this ranks up high in terms of band-focused rhythm games, like The Beatles: Rock Band or Guitar Hero: Metallica. It’s a great way to enjoy Avicii’s work, and it’s also great for those who never heard of him before this. It’s definitely worth checking out.
It’s usually twenty dollars on Steam, but it goes on sale fairly often, but even at full price it’s a fun experience. While I played it on Steam, the game is available on every major platform: PS4, Switch, Xbox One, hell it was even on Google Stadia before that got shut down early in 2023. A lot of these platforms had the game released as Avicii Invector: Encore Edition, which bundles the DLC alongside the main campaign.
So now that I’ve learned about Avicii and his music… is there other EDM music I should get into? Is there an “EDM 101” playlist somewhere? I may not be super into the genre, but I definitely wanna hear more than like, Avicii, or deadmau5, or… ugh, Skrillex…
Like all my other articles, this was available on Patreon a few days earlier. You can check my Patreon here, but I’d recommend donating to a mental health/suicide awareness charity if you can. We need to be able to talk more openly about our mental health. You deserve to be heard. You deserve to be here.