Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, PS Vita
Publisher: PM Studios / acttill
Release: 21st June 2018
As stated in my Superbeat XONiC review, I love rhythm games. So any new releases, especially for the merely saturated Switch are welcome additions to my potential review list. This time PM Studio and actill brought us yet another gem: MUSYNX. Promising super cute artworks and amazing gameplay we came to know and love to form their published titles, this time though, there even are 90+ songs, for the low price of 29.99.
What most will notice immediately when starting up the game for the first time: There´s no arcade mode or anything like that. Instead, MUSYNX only offers a menu with all songs in a giant list. In short, for better or worse there´s no option to actually get random songs thrown at you but instead between each of them is now a pretty long selection time. Especially for me, who likes to play rhythm games for 10-20 minutes, the whole thing seemed way slower than needed.
Luckily the gameplay is all the more solid. Offering the standardized 4 or 6 lanes, operated by the left and upper d-pad buttons as well as X and A, no fan of the genre should be even mildly surprised by how the whole thing plays out. Only the fact the lanes are distributed in a horizontal rather than “round” way is different to at least Superbeat. However, it still works like an absolute charm due to the responsive, fast and easy to learn nature of the system.
Naturally for a rhythm game though, the devil lurks in the details and how every aspect comes together. Although MUSYNX is frankly quite hard on higher levels, there´s also a healthy variety of options without clustering every corner with optional stuff. Before starting a song, you´re able to select the speed and sound enhancer. The former obviously determines how fast the button commands will come flying at you, a much-needed feature. Defaulting at 4.0, they will quickly outrun you, so beginners should definitely play on lower speeds. What´s somewhat obscure to me is the 9.0 speed or anything in this range, as the reaction times demanded from you can´t be human in any way. The latter is more of a punishing tool for yourself. Depending on how well you hit the different button prompts, the sound enhancer will turn off or turn on instruments or sounds of the music. As a result, songs sound somewhat lacking or incomplete, basically giving you less reward for less skill.
Speaking of button prompts and difficulty, MUSYNX requires you to learn way less different commands, in fact, there´s only a single button press and hold one or multiple buttons at the same time. Compared to other titles, those are only the two most basic of all actions, making this game a surprisingly great entry point. It won´t take longer than five minutes until you got a grasp of everything, the sheer speed and complexity of button prompts during the later difficulty levels will nonetheless still bring you to your edge.
Yet, the one thing I initially didn´t believe in, became one of the biggest advantages: The impossibility to fail. Here everything comes together into one highly motivating experience. While failure at most songs is nearly always guaranteed in the beginning, the fact you´re not demotivated by a “failure” or “game over” screen but instead, with an honest examination of your performance after the whole song, failing doesn´t really feel like failing. Combined with the simplicity, becoming better in MUSYNX feels natural since reaction times automatically increase once we get a better grasp of each song.
What´s somewhat of a mixed bag for me were the visuals. MUSYNX has some wonderful looking stages, just like pretty much any rhythm game. Unfortunately, the “skins” aren´t changed per music but per style. Meaning, 10-30 titles can easily have the same look without any change, resulting in a visual repetition able to get on your nerves if you´re not in total love with the style or don’t quite fit into the genre. For example, the first one features some super adorable chibi buttons and style, that at least I distracted from the experience. Similar case with the electro theme, where button prompts can sometimes blend in with the background making the whole thing even more difficult. Still, considering the sheer variety of genres in here, this approach was probably for the better and in exchange, we got pretty much everything from Vocaloid to techno in a well-balanced manner.
MUSYNX is once again an amazing rhythm game, who would´ve guessed. With a different design direction and focus, it manages to create an own spot beside many other titles as a completely unique experience. There´s never a point where I felt demotivated, frustrated or not in love with both the design and gameplay. Definitely a must-buy for any Switch fan of the genre, despite its few flaws.
[A Review Code was provided by acttill]