Melatonin is a rhythm game about dreams and reality merging together. Each level embodies your thoughts, like video games, social media, shopping, eating, and all the other mundane made magical. Developed and published by Half Asleep, the game uses animations and sound cues to keep you on beat without any intimidating overlays or interfaces. Harmonize through a variety of dreamy levels containing surprising challenges, hand-drawn art, and vibrant music.
The first thing to note when you look at Melatonin is easily the gorgeous hand-drawn art. With dream-like purples and pinks, each level is a unique, fanciful take on the more banal pieces of life. A true dream, don’t let the sleepy and cozy state make you think it’s easy. With gorgeous sound design and music, Melatonin will keep you awake, tapping your foot, and pushing to clear each level with a higher score.
While I only got to play through four of the unique levels in the PAX West 2022 demo, I’m excited to see what else is in store. This is especially true because of how difficult and fun the closing level of the demo was, which brought together multiple rhythms and animations that you played through into one.
My only issue with the demo, particularly for the time I got to play, was the tutorial. Now, while the inclusion of a tutorial for each level of the demo, as well as encouragement to try the tutorial again if you’re struggling, is welcomed, it’s not the easiest to map onto gameplay. As someone who struggles with the game type, the tutorial did more to confuse than help me.
The tutorial features a button that enters a circle at the rhythm you have to keep. However, that visualization isn’t a one-to-one equivalent to the level itself. The circle and the button get replaced by items dropping onto platforms that you swipe your credit card to, keeping the beat. The tutorial visualization is replaced with progressing on tablet screens as likes and comments show up in the background.
That said, this is just one small gripe with Melatonin that I only noticed because of how much I wanted to play and get good at the game. I wanted to learn more, and with only a short amount of time to play, the hard visual shift from the tutorial to the actual level made it hard to get any of my bearings. However, I would be remiss not to mention that the moment I got home from PAX West, I downloaded the Steam demo in order to get more time with the game.
Melatonin is one to watch. Creative in both aesthetic, sound, and gameplay, Melatonin is a stunning game that, despite its difficulty, made me want to keep leaning in and playing.
Melatonin is scheduled to release late 2022 on PC via Steam.