It has essentially no narrative; you are a small, silver space beetle that is set upon a rail and traveling at high velocity. As you go you must navigate into or around the various obstacles in your way such as poles of light along the track, walls to grind against without hitting, and spikes that must be flown over. All the while you are occasionally beset by geometrically designed portal-like objects (or creatures) that you must defeat with carefully timed actions in order to progress past them.
Sounds simple, right? Under this simple veneer is a deceptively difficult runner game with very little margin for error and a visual design heavily inspired by 80's era technological motifs. One of the key points of Thumper is its soundtrack; the game's pounding beats are probably one of the only things that will keep you on track with timing your actions, so this is a game recommended to be played with headphones.
And no, this game has absolutely nothing to do with the rabbit named Thumper, the bug named Thumper, the quarry machine named Thumper, the lady named Thumper, The Thumper, the racer named Thumper, or Eduardo "Thumper" Orozco, nor with the equally unrelated 2017 film called Thumper.
The game provides examples of:
- Anti-Frustration Features: In the boss runs, you will not have to worry about dodging obstacles while the energy shot is traveling up the rail to the boss.
- Cosmic Horror Story: Whether the game itself qualifies is open to interpretation; however, the visuals take some Lovecraftian cues, including tentacles on many bosses and even the track itself.
- Darker and Edgier: Than the usual rhythm game fair. Both the music and the visuals are dark and foreboding, and you're matching the rhythm to avoid smashing into something and exploding violently.
- Difficulty Spike: The game hits one in level Infinity , where the speed of the game changes constantly in addition to dealing with the obstacles.
- Eldritch Abomination: Crakhed seems to become more and more like one of these all the time, getting spikier, more deformed, and more tentacle-y each time you face it, until it's more like a giant, flaming, metallic anemone than like a burning, screaming human head. Also, its true form is implied to be a large inexplicable shape that serves as a phase of the boss fight.
- Expy: At least visually, the Final Boss in phase one looks a LOT like classical depictions of Azathoth.
- Ground Wave: What happens when you stomp on a thump or attack a boss.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: A common color motif, given that the art style draws heavily from neon-and-black 80's era motifs.
- Sinister Geometry: Everything that isn't you or the rail falls into this category; the walls, the spikes, the rods, and especially the bosses. Subverted with the Omega bosses, as while they do appear to be made of geometric shapes they are meant to evoke the design of a screaming human face. Not that it makes them any less sinister.
- Uncommon Time: Each level uses a different time signature, and some of them get a bit out there, like 7/8 and 9/8.