Fred3ric, or Frederic 3 for those of us who find those kinds of game titles mildly aggravating, is the latest entry to the rhythm action series that sees you take over the body of Chopin! A piano virtuoso, you are now tasked to fight off an alien invasion who keep possessing other composers and putting you into battle against them. Only the best rhythm action player will survive each round! Drama and music abound! How good does that sound? Is there fun to be found?
OK I’ll stop now…
Fred3ric marks itself out from the rhythm action crowd on two counts. The first is that each stage is a rearrangement of classical music into space rock operas and often contain several themes that you’ll know well. Part of what makes the series so good are these arrangements as you’ll be surprised to hear the new lick of paint on all classics. The second is the literal translation of a piano octave onto a keyboard. Taking seven notes (4 white, 3 black) from F to C on a piano, they are laid out on your keyboard just the same. The idea is to evoke a real piano playing vibe. It doesn’t quite manage it due to the small space you have between keys but it is close enough.
Each of the 8 stages features a battle against a possessed genius and part of the fun is seeing who the story digs up. The graphics are colourful and bold and lend a lot to each level. I wish the cutscenes were slightly longer but what is here looks great and is serviceable. Once into the level you’ll have your piano staff sending notes down to the piano for you to hit when they land on the keys. There is a knack to the points system which I’ll explain below but the idea is to chain up the notes by hitting them and therefore beat your opponent. Whilst you don’t see what they are up to, you do get a power meter on the top of the screen showing a tug of war effect that shows whose winning.
The key to getting high scores is to increase your multiplier by hitting 10 notes in a row and hitting them perfectly in time to get bonus points. It is here where the games sole sticking point lands though. Visually, the notes bounce down and are difficult to track – especially in hard mode. You are told to visually hit them when the note hits the centre of the piano key and each piano key has a marking to show this. The problem? It doesn’t seem to be in the centre of the key nor does it seem to fit in time with the music. There are no real sync options to speak of and so I had to play with a bit of disconnect between music and visuals to hit those notes perfectly. It drove me up the wall and so I just played for fun, not for high scores. This won’t matter in story mode so much as just hitting all the notes is enough to win, but if you want top scores and those elusive steam achievements, it’ll drive you nuts.
It is a shame that this dampened my fun with Fred3ric because the game is really well polished in all other regards. It needed another two stages perhaps and a medium difficulty to really be top tier for the price point but everything that is here works well. Just be wary of chasing those perfect runs – I don’t think you’ll get them without essentially playing the game slightly wonky. If you are new to the series, I think personally 2 is the best one to date but they are all worthy of your time.
Higher Plain Games is part of the Higher Plain Network. If you like what I do, please consider supporting me via Patreon for as little as $1/£1 a month. There are additional perks for supporting me, such as behind-the-scenes content and downloads. You can also share the website or use the affiliate buy now links on reviews. Buying credit from CD Keys using my affiliate link means I get a couple of pence per sale. All your support will enable me to produce better content, more often. Thank you.