Games I play: Theatrhythm: Final Bar Line

Theatrhythm: Final Bar Line is a rhythm game with RPG elements and technically the fourth Theatrhythm game. Originally thriving on 3DS with two Final Fantasy entries and one Japan-only Dragon Quest entry, it came as quite a surprise when Final Bar Line was announced for Nintendo Switch. A very happy surprise.

The core gameplay is pressing buttons and moving control sticks in time with the music, much like any rhythm game. In its transition from the 3DS to Switch, the controls are now controller-based rather than utilizing the touch screen but amazingly it might actually be better this way. Where Theatrhythm sets itself apart from other rhythm games is twofold: it has music from the Final Fantasy-series and you play as a party of characters that have abilities, fight enemies, and gain experience and loot.

That’s all it takes to bring this game from good to amazing. If you’ve ever played a Final Fantasy game or two—and I sure have—Theatrhythm is a huge serving of amazing fan service wrapped in rewarding gameplay.

Things I liked:

  • Truly amazing music and a very wide selection of it.
  • Tons of playable characters from across the Final Fantasy-series. It’s like the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate of Final Fantasy.
  • Tight controls and very clear input prompts.
  • Several difficulty levels that actually feel different and rewarding.
  • Deeper-than-you-think RPG elements with leveling, loot, and skills.
  • Experimenting with your party and skill set-up is required to meet certain objectives.
  • A very intuitive way to adjust the timing based on any controller or TV input lag.

Things I didn’t like:

  • There’s a good amount of non-Final Fantasy content available as DLC and it’s not cheap.

All in all, Theatrhythm: Final Bar Line is probably the best rhythm game I’ve ever played. I still return to it long after having completed every song on Expert difficulty and a good handful on Ultimate difficulty. I really can’t recommend it enough. Of course I say this as both a Final Fantasy fan and lover of video game music. But then again… who isn’t?