Amplitude is the video game version of a concept album, albeit one with frenetic beat-rhythm action and a lurid color scheme.
Its makers, the musical specialists at Harmonix, want to frame the game as a story, a journey, a narrative that has been strung together with songs. It's a controller-based beat-rhythm game, so the player creates the songs, and therefore the story, by hitting notes at the right time, while zooming along multiple lanes of multicolored movement.
Unlike the concept albums of old, it will be difficult to enjoy this one's intricacies and subliminal majesties while blissed out on mind-altering substances. As I found during a demo earlier this week, the game takes a lot of concentration.
Team members at Harmonix describe it as "a passion project," and you really have to take them at face value on this. Amplitude is based on a 2003 PlayStation 2 game of the same name, that failed to deliver a commercial return. In the intervening years, rhythm games have come and, spectacularly, they've gone. The game brand is owned by Sony and so it is a platform exclusive.
In a Kickstarter campaign, created to help fund development, Amplitude hit its target of $750,000 mainly due to the sterling efforts of mega-fans.
And yet, this is just the sort of game that deserves to be published. It's niche, for sure, but when it arrives in 2015 it will be priced at just $20. All the music in the game is original, and, yes, it is a neat idea to try to tell a freaky story about a scientist's synapses around electronic music.
I suspect the game's big value will come through couch multiplayer, which tests the individual player's skills, musicality and callous desire to stitch up rivals via Mario Kart-style bogies.
Amplitude will be released in 2015 for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.