Punching is cool, but what if punching was instigated by musical notes instead? Well, developer Modus Studios liked that idea, and the result is God of Rock, a fighting game that pits rival musicians against one another.

Mechanically, God of Rock is solid. While it's a fighting game, the core of the experience relies on note charts a la Rock Band, or, most overtly, the Persona rhythm games. Rather than traditional punches and kicks, you have to hit notes on a chart to the beat of the song. The longer the song goes without a winner, the more complex the note charts get. If you’re not swift, the charts can get absolutely mental. Unfortunately, the huge soundtrack of 40 songs does blur together a bit, and it’s almost impossible to distinguish one track from the other.

Curiously, traditional special moves and breakers are in the game. Depending on which of the vibrant, unique characters you pick, your moveset will vary greatly. Sadly, given how much of your attention is demanded by the note chart, it’s hard to really appreciate each of the 12 character designs, many of which are influenced by famous musicians like Bowie or Elvis.

This is thanks in part to the special moves that we mentioned. While hard to keep track of initially, as you become more capable of multi-tasking you’ll find that many of the moves offer wild mechanical variance. Some specials heal, some require charge-ups, others drop extra notes onto your opponent’s chart that can’t be removed, and so on. They add a really interesting element of strategy to the experience that calls upon what you’d expect from the highest level of play in the likes of Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat.

While the AI will soon find you too much to handle, even at higher difficulties, the online component is where the specials really shine. The strategy of choosing when to slot your attacks in becomes paramount. It’s easy to lose the rhythm of the song if you get too cocky. As long as the game can nurture and maintain a player base there should be ample reason to keep coming back to God of Rock time and time again.