Headbangers: Rhythm Royale pigeons with earphones

Headbangers: Rhythm Royale Review

Game: Headbangers: Rhythm Royale
Genre: Party, Action
System: Steam (Windows) (also on Xbox, PS4 and Nintendo Switch)
Developer|Publisher: Glee-Cheese Studio | Team 17
Controller Support: Yes
Price: US $17.99 | UK £14.99 | EU 17,99
Release Date: October 31st, 2023

Review code provided with many thanks to Press Engine.

Headbangers: Rhythm Royale, Pigeon Game of the Year

Headbangers: Rhythm Royale is a party game focusing on music and rhythm mini-games. Think Fall Guys, but more pressing buttons to the beat and then platforming. Thirty pigeons enter, but only one can be proclaimed the master headbanger. With a light-hearted sense of humour and friendly presentation, this is probably the best music rhythm game featuring pigeons you’ll find.

Headbangers has no story to speak of; you play a humble pigeon with a keen interest in funky jams. The presentation of Headbangers is warm-hearted. A colourful 3D art style with silly pigeons which can be dressed up in various outfits as time passes.

What stood out from the start is if you tilt the analogue stick in any direction it will move the pigeon’s head accompanied with a funny noise, which will likely bug the real human in the same room as you. Or maybe that’s just me. You can mess around with this during the main menu, loading into a game and even during mini-games themselves. A positive and upbeat soundtrack accompanies the light-hearted feel of the experience. I wouldn’t say that the score was memorable, but how the game plays about with sound, from the silly vocals from the pigeons to bouncy beats, certainly put me in a good mood when playing.

Headbangers: Rhythm Royale pigeons repeating the actions on screen
Press to the beat

Enter the Music Arena

When you play a round of Headbangers: Rhythm Royale, you are matched with 29 other random humans (or pigeons) online. AI pigeons will fill the void if the numbers can’t be filled up. Since I live in the UK, I found a game would generally be populated fully with human characters when playing in the evening. But during the day, I often found rooms would struggle to fill more than 50%. That’s also with cross-play enabled. 

You’ll play up to four rounds of games, which are randomly selected. Several pigeons will be eliminated with each game until only five remain for a finale. Before a mini-game begins the loading screen will give you a quick tutorial to explain how to play. Even when you enter a mini-game, you’re often given a short period of time to play around with the controls to get your bearings, which is very helpful.

Press to the Beat

The gameplay is easy to pick up. A controller is advised, but you can enjoy the game with the keyboard. Keep in mind having a good memory of the face buttons will serve you well with this title. All games are rhythm-based, requiring just the face buttons and sometimes the analogue stick and controller triggers.

Mini-games come in a variety of forms. Examples include entering button prompts in the correct order, a bit like Guitar Hero and mimicking the actions of another pigeon as quickly as possible. One I quite liked is where you try to take a photo of a dolphin at the right time as it ascends towards the sun. It’s easy to start as you can visually see the dolphin, but as the difficulty increases, you need to rely on your ears more than your eyes.

Each game breaks you in gently, but before you know it, things speed up. If you have a sharp eye, you are able to acquire power-ups in the level by pressing a trigger button when an item box flies past the screen. These powerups may make things harder for other players with distractions or make the mini-game a lot easier for you with extra assistance. 

Headbangers: Rhythm Royale pigeons on stage
This stand-up show is not what I expected.

Difficulty felt very mixed. All games are easy to pick up, but the difficulty can really ramp up to the absurd. This is a game that requires quick reflexes and button presses to really get ahead of the competition. I’m not sure the balance is there to suit the more casual crowd. Still, I was able to get the final round on one play, and it didn’t take too long to load into another game. I will commend it for trying something different from the usual battle royal formula of combat. Theoretically, you can enjoy this with just one hand while you attempt to sip a coffee with the other.               

Dress Up

As for rewards and progression, it’s all about the cosmetics. In every game, you acquire bread currency, which you can use to unlock various funky items like hats, glasses and tops. Whole outfits can be unlocked by fulfilling mini objectives. You don’t need to be a champion to unlock new items. More cosmetics are available as paid DLC. To my delight, the game has no paid battle pass, reminding me of better times of another battle royale game where people fall over.             

Headbangers: Rhythm Royale pigeon smashing water melons
Use your head

Conclusion: Pigeon Pie

Headbangers: Rhythm Royale is a positive and upbeat take on the battle royale formula, which I liked. I wasn’t very good at it, but I enjoyed its humorous pigeon presentation and family-friendly feel. Unlike several battle royale games, I appreciated the game currently has no battle pass, just DLC for cosmetic outfits. This is much more appealing to gamers like me who just want to dip in and out of the experience occasionally and not treat the game like a second job.

Like many battle royale titles, the novelty of the experience wears off once you have repeated the same mini-games repeatedly. The game is currently on season 2 which gives the impression the developers are continuing to support it. As it stands now, it’s good. But time will tell if its fan base will last in a competitive genre.

Final Verdict: I Like it

I like it

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