There’s a beautiful little touch in Spin Rhythm XD. Occasionally, you’ll be asked to just wildly spin the game’s onscreen controller – a two-tone disc responsible for playing almost all of the game’s notes. It’s a moment of exuberant action amidst a game all about small-scale perfection, the same feeling you used to get from Rock Band’s drum fills.But what I love in particular is that, when you stop that spin and get ready to keep playing your chosen electronic cut, the game always leaves the disc in the perfect position to play the next note. It’s a miniature masterstroke of design, a way to simultaneously make the game feel fair, and keep you perfectly in the flow (not to mention feeling amazingly good at a game that gets pretty punishing pretty quickly).

It speaks to so much of what makes Spin Rhythm – the first release from Australian indie Super Spin Digital – so exciting. Even in early access form, it’s a game of minimal distraction and high precision, designed to make you feel absolutely connected to the track you’re playing. Where other music-based games can feel a little like plastic karaoke, this feels somehow more like directed composition, albeit by means of some UFO-like instrument.

Check oput what Spin Rhythm looks (and sounds) like in the Early Access trailer:

Controls are simple, primarily because the songs you’ll play with them very often aren’t. Most notes are red or blue dots, asking you only to have the matching colour on the disk lined up with them as they meet you on the track. Some notes require you to tap a button at the same time as lining up the colour. Longer notes have you holding that button and tracing waving lines across the track. And then there are those lovely spins, where you drag your mouse or flick a controller stick to send the disc whirling.

Like all truly excellent rhythm games, stepping up a difficulty level doesn’t just increase the complexity, but throws in a whole new note type in the form of the beat bar (played with spacebar on a keyboard, shoulder button on a controller). Just like Guitar Hero’s orange note, having this dropped into a now-familiar mix of inputs will completely throw you at first, and force you to make it second nature all over again.

It’s a control set designed to be easily digestible, but almost never easy in practice. You’ll realise, very quickly, that Spin Rhythm demands you get to grips with it almost immediately, its songs – almost all upbeat EDM cuts – turning the note track into a maze of blue and red symbols, something like bizarro vertical sheet music. In its PC form, all of that’s achievable with either mouse-and-keyboard (better for minor precision and quick shifts in position), or controller (better for spins and taps), but its best control method is something less familiar.

Where the most famous pure rhythm games have asked players to invest in unwieldy peripherals that eventually become useless to anyone other than Dark Souls masochists, Spin Rhythm takes the opposite approach – its perfect controller is an existing digital instrument, a MIDI DJ mixer. Spins are handled by the decks, with buttons configurable to allow for the notes and beats.

I haven’t played on a mixer yet, but I desperately want to – I bet the spins feel amazing, for a start – and have already gone as far as looking up how much they cost. That’s how much I like those spins. It might be the best marker of how good Spin Rhythm already is in its early form – I like this game so much that it might convince me to get to grips with an entirely new musical device as a result. That’s probably the sign of a good rhythm game.

Spin Rhythm XD is in early access on Steam now, and will come to Switch in 2020.

Joe Skrebels is IGN’s UK Deputy Editor, and his favourite song on Spin Rhythm’s tracklist is Kitty’s ‘2 Minutes’. Follow him on Twitter.