Release Date: June 21st 2018
Price as of Article: $29.99 USD
Game was purchased by the reviewer
Now since there’s no story at all in Musynx I’m moving straight into the gameplay. Following recent examples of Switch success stories like Voez and Deemo, Musynx takes the falling notes type of gameplay and integrates it with quirky Asian vocaloid music.
It’s a gameplay concept that couldn’t be any simpler. With the choice between 4 keys or 6 keys, you are presented with an almost overwhelming amount of tracks to choose from. There’s no campaign, no progression; it’s just you and which ever song you want to play. I like the no nonsense approach here although some may lament the lack of some sort of prompts to drive you forward.
The game can be played in docked mode, something which is rather acceptable for songs of a lower difficulty, in 4 Key mode the falling note lanes are mapped to the left direction, up direction, X and A. If you want to truly test yourself, the 6 Key mode will add the right direction and A button to proceedings. Bear in mind that all of the inputs can be mapped to your liking but I feel they did a good job adapting the controls with what’s available. I like playing in docked mode thanks to seeing the lovely visuals and having the music pumping out of my speakers, but for the higher difficulties of songs it becomes almost unplayable unless you have a lot of practice.
Musynx is far more comfortable in handheld mode, the mode it was truly designed for considering its origins as a mobile game. The touch screen works beautifully as the cascading notes respond wonderfully to your finger touches. If you’re not used to playing rhythm games like this, stretching your hand around to cover all areas of the screen, you’ll probably get a bit of hand cramp like I initially did, but you’ll get used to it after a while. Just be prepared for a slight bit of pain from an extended play session and those with arthritis may wish to avoid it or stick to docked mode.
That’s all there really is to the gameplay. You can’t actually fail a stage like in Guitar Hero and such, you can miss all the notes and you’ll still get to the end although you will get a terrible grade. In that regard it’s a very casual, low pressure rhythm game. You can just play it and not worry about a thing.
I feel one immediate problem that will come up is the difficulty. Sure, you can’t fail a stage, and indeed you can easily cheese a decent grade on the most difficult tracks by just spamming keys, but that is not satisfactory in the slightest. Failing to success isn’t fun and aside from a handful of the low level tracks, I think many will be overwhelmed by the default settings.
Rather than include more variable difficulties, Musynx goes for a different approach. You can change the default speed of the falling notes and slow down the song. It’s surprisingly effective and, contrary to my fears, it doesn’t make the song sound terrible or less fun. It feels and sounds almost exactly the same but far more manageable. Of course if you’re a little bit crazy you can always speed the music and notes up too for something I honestly think is impossible.
While the presentation of the gameplay is fantastic, I feel the barebones nature of the menus comes across as a little unpolished. It’s slow, not well designed and the options come across as a little amateurish. The fact you have to scroll through the dozens of big icons just to get to one song is a bit tedious. They look great, sure, but it’s not convenient to find the song that you want. There needed to be some customisation to up the production value and make it look more professional and slick. Just the simple things like being able to order the songs in different ways like alphabetically or by difficulty, it seems almost odd the lack of thought put into this area.
The audio is a huge part of a rhythm game and for me Musynx is very much up to the task. Usually I only enjoy rhythm games where I’m familiar with the songs already with like Rock Band or the Final Fantasy Theatrhythm games, and so the mostly quirky Chinese vocaloid music is pretty much foreign to me, even though I live in the country. The music here hooked me though. I loved the wide variety of genres present here, it’s not just the hyperactive high-pitched songs you may imagine. There’s some dubstep, some anime style songs, retro game tunes, some beautiful piano pieces and even some cute Asian rock. There are dozens of songs with more promised in the future.
There’s a lot of variety but the overriding theme is quirkiness, at least for our western ears so in that regard it may not be for everyone. For people who want something a bit more standard, well you may not gel too well with it. Personally I’m not usually a fan of songs like this, but it works so well in the rhythm game format I thoroughly enjoyed listening to and playing them.
Visuals & Performance
The visuals are always an important part too. They have to pull you in to the experience and envelop you in the music to make you really feel like you’re part of the tune. I feel, menus aside, the presentation of the gameplay is fantastic. The dozens of songs are divided into different visual styles. Some are more childlike while others go for a more futuristic or classical approach. I love the way the stage often evolves over time too like with time passing by. I find this part very appealing and engrossing, allowing you to get fully in to the trance-like zone of the gameplay.
Value-wise I think there’s solid value for your money. Compared to other rhythm games with this many quality tracks and you’re pretty much spot on with the price point. Sure, the package may look barebones with only choosing your track and playing it, but really, that’s why you play games of this type. For $29.99 I think it’s decent amount of value for how much play time you’re going to get with this one. It’s worth noting that there is a physical copy of this game which may be worth plumping for if you want it a bit cheaper a little down the line.
Great music selection
Presentation and polish aren't great
Needed more difficulty options