Android Central Verdict
Rotaeno shoots for the stars with its revolutionary control scheme. If you thought rhythm games had already reached the limits of imagination, you're wrong.
+ Excellent, inventive gameplay
+ Challenging but doable
+ Nice variety of songs and genres
+ Adorable main characters and intriguing story
Occasional login issues
Controls often need to be recalibrated
Additional song packs can get pricey
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It's no secret that rhythm games are my favorite genre on mobile, so you can imagine how jazzed I was to get early access to Rotaeno for Android — a revolutionary new rhythm game that places rotary controls at its core.
From Dream Engine Games and X.D. Network (the folks behind beloved action RPG, ICEY), playing Rotaeno feels like a step toward something greater. Like playing DDR or Beat Saber for the first time, Rotaeno's imaginative approach to mobile rhythm gaming feels like the first swell of a new wave in the genre.
Not only is Rotaeno a great game in its own right, but I can't wait to see what other developers might do with this concept now that it's out there.
Let's discuss the game's most obvious hook first: the gameplay. Most rhythm games, even Dance Dance Revolution and Beat Saber, follow a fairly standard formula. Commands flow in one direction toward the player and must be executed at a specific time, usually overlapping a judgment line to determine if your hit was perfect, good, missed, etc.
So how would rotation mechanics in a rhythm game even work? Easy! The judgment line gets wrapped into a judgment circle. Notes fly from the center of the screen outward toward the judgment circle and you have to rotate your screen to ensure that the notes fall within a certain area on the line to be considered a successful hit.
There are basically two "baskets" at the left and right of the circle. Some notes just need to be tapped or held anywhere along the judgment circle, but others must be caught within the baskets to be properly executed. As notes fly toward the circle in different directions, you have to keep rotating your phone to maintain alignment with the judgment circle.
|Developer||Dream Engine Games|
|Game Size||Varies with device|
|Release Date||May 30, 2022|
There are also these awesome rotate notes, which require jerking your phone in a quick left or right rotation to pull off. These are usually layered into the more impactful beats of songs, so it feels totally rad to successfully execute them.
It also presents a certain level of danger to the player, as I'm sure that someone in the Play Store reviews is going to claim that a rotate note sent their phone flying out of their hands and into their tv screen, or their baby, or something.
My point is that the control scheme can seem intimidating at first, but the game's various difficulty levels and scaling gradually lead you to the more intense levels. There's even an extra Advanced Tutorial that kicks in the first time you try to play any song higher than difficulty level seven.
Rotaeno: Progress, Packs, and Purchases
Progression happens in a couple of different ways. As you play tracks in quick play mode you earn experience points and with each level up you gain a Traveler Badge. Traveler Badges can be redeemed to unlock additional tracks, which include three difficulty levels each.
After reaching level 10, you unlock Story Mode and start earning "miles" in addition to XP and Traveler Badges, which are used to unlock cutscenes that progress the story.
If you max out your base set of tracks and start to get bored replaying the same ones again and again, you can purchase additional song packs through the in-game store. To purchase song packs you'll need to use Stellar Gems, which are the premium in-game currency. 500 stellar gems amount to about $5, so additional song packs could really start to add up fast if you're not careful.
Deemo II and Cytus II used similar systems and if you bought all of the available song packs you'd be spending literally hundreds of dollars on the game. This isn't unique to Rotaeno and it's an understandable cost when you consider that this licensed music has to come from somewhere. Better to have the musical artists be compensated for the use of their works than to have a subpar or boring tracklist.
Rotaeno: Endless Rain
Good stories, or even just interesting ones, are not a given for rhythm games. I would even venture so far as to say that there are two types of rhythm games: ones that focus solely on the gameplay and don't bother to include a story at all, like Beatstar, and ones that try to weave an overarching narrative into their musically-based worlds, like Cytus II and Deemo II have done.
Thankfully, Rotaeno falls into the latter category. I know that many rhythm gamers don't give a hoot about the story, they're just showing up for the frantic action and that's okay. Personally though, I appreciate having an end goal to strive for beyond high scores.
The story of Rotaeno centers on our adorable protagonist, Ilot. Peppy, obsessed with her idols, and disdainful of school, Ilot seems like your average student. But her circumstances are anything but ordinary. It started raining on Ilot's home planet of Aquaria twelve years ago...and it never stopped. The "Endless Rain" is slowly flooding Aquaria and all the world's citizens have to be progressively evacuated to higher and higher ground to stay ahead of the rising waters.
It's a dire situation, but Ilot is just annoyed that she has to move to an apartment a few stories up again. Through this chaos, a deeper story of love and lost friendship starts to form, eventually taking Ilot beyond the sphere of her waterlogged planet and out among the stars!
I won't say too much about the story to avoid spoilers, but I will say that engaging with the story mode is purely optional. Players that are just there for the action can get plenty of it without ever delving deeper, but players that want to explore more of what Rotaeno has to offer will find good writing, lovely art, fun dialogue, and fascinating world-building. Story mode is a great journey and I would recommend playing it to maximize your experience.
Rotaeno: Is there anything less than great about it?
I've encountered a couple of oddities here and there while playing Rotaeno, but in fairness, I'm unsure how much of that has to do with the game versus the phone/OS I'm playing it on.
On my OnePlus 9 running Android 12, I ran into an issue that prevented me from playing for a couple of days. I would log in, hit start, the game would begin to load, and then stall out three-quarters of the way through on a "checking for updates" status that never progressed any further. This issue eventually resolved itself, but it was annoying to be locked out for a few days.
I also think it's odd that the game asks me to agree to the TOS almost every time I log in, but not always, so it's hard to tell if this is a glitch or if it's intentional.
Worst of all, I ran into a nearly game-breaking problem with the gyroscopic controls, but thankfully the developers planned for this issue and built in a few workarounds. Essentially, your device must have gyroscopic or accelerometer capabilities for you to be able to play Rotaeno at all.
At some point, and for unknown reasons, my rotation sensor failed and I wasn't able to play anymore. Luckily, the game detects when you're missing an unusual amount of notes and will prompt you to review your rotational control options. As you can see from the image above, the first default option, Gyroscope (Recommended), wasn't triggering as I rotated my phone, but the other two, Gyroscope (Compatability Mode) and Accelerometer, were working.
I'm still playing using Compatability Mode and the gameplay experience seems to be as good as the default recommended option. If you choose Accelerometer, the game gives you a prompt warning that the gameplay experience will suffer by using this mode. Keep this in mind for your own playthrough, in the event that you need to troubleshoot your rotation sensor.
Rotaeno: Should you buy it?
My experience with Rotaeno has been excellent, despite the few technical issues I've encountered during my time with the game so far. It's a very welcome change of pace when compared to most other modern rhythm game control schemes, but the game doesn't rely solely on its rotation gimmick to hold itself up.
The story, user interface, lovely graphics, wide variety of songs, and intriguing story all combine to form a complete rhythm gaming experience that I think anyone could love. The tougher difficulties are not for the faint of heart, but they never are in other, non-rotational rhythm titles either.
Rotaeno releases to all players on May 30, 2022, with a starting pack of twenty-four tracks, each of which has three difficulty levels. The base game costs $2.99 and additional song packs appear to start at $4.99 (I'm betting that mega-packs will be added later down the line with higher price tags). Considering the revolutionary work that went into this cutting-edge game, I think that's a fair price.
I would recommend Rotaeno to just about anyone —at the very least for the novelty of the gameplay experience— but especially for rhythm gaming fans, Rotaeno is going to be a must-buy for your gaming library.
The world's first rotary rhythm game splashes down for Android, and it's a ton of fun to play.
Buy from: Google Play Store (opens in new tab)