Saturday, April 27

Review: Cytus ⍺ [Nintendo Switch eShop]

When it comes to music and rhythm games the Switch as proven to be quite versatile and has you covered. While the majority of titles haven’t had Western soundtracks with tunes Americans will recognize that isn’t to say the music has been bad, it’s just a bit of a mindblower when you hear styles like jazz or rock in a foreign language. One reason the Switch has attracted so many of these titles is due to its touchscreen, making it easy to bring over games suited to mobile. What Cytus ⍺ manages to do, that’s a bit different, is bring viable physical controls to the table as well, making it more accessible depending on how you like to play, but perhaps at a cost.

Coming from the same folks who made VOEZ and Deemo it’s clear that the game was put together by people well versed in the genre. Between the presentation and general base controls the game has a nice degree of polish. Keeping things pretty simple overall you’ll be focused on tapping, dragging your finger in a simple pattern, or holding it down depending on the type of prompts you’re given. With the inclusion of a line that moves up and down the screen to the beat these translate very easily into physical controls as well, with tap and hold using the face buttons, and drag using the triggers. As someone who has struggled to capture video of games in this genre due to either a lack of controller support or controls that are clearly inferior to using the touchscreen I really appreciate the viability of using the controller to play the game.

Perhaps a casualty of making the physical controls viable is the fact that while the tracks will certainly get tougher as you raise the difficulty with regards to how much you’ll be pressed to do and keep up with the simplicity remains in place with just the 3 types of control. Whether or not you’d consider this a plus or minus will vary but the lack of overall complexity compared to its peers is just different in general. Playing online against others is supported, though since I tend to play games like this more on the go overall and do it for my own enjoyment I didn’t find it to be a hook. If you like the idea of battling other people’s scores not just on leaderboards but also live it may be a real positive for you though. Over the course of playing through the game’s massive 200+ list of songs you’ll slowly unlock elements and details that point to a narrative of some kind, but this feels like an unusual afterthought and I’m not positive for what little it adds it was needed.

Depending on what you’re looking for Cytus ⍺ may be either a home run or a bit of a swing and a miss. If you value simplicity and the ability to viably play in docked mode over complexity this may be one of the best options in the genre on the system. If, however, you like your action to be a bit more varied and crazy and only intend to play it with touch controls it may get knocked down a few pegs. Aside from that sticking point that can go either way the game boasts a diverse and massive track list full of variety so if you’re down for some tapping, dragging, and holding you should have something to happily occupy yourself with for a while.

Score: 7.5

  • Docked play using the controller is highly viable
  • A massive and diverse soundtrack of more than 200 songs
  • The simplicity of the controls makes it very accessible as a whole

  • For some, the lack of control complexity could be considered a downside
  • While the music is generally very good Western audiences aren’t likely to recognize any of it at all
  • While the overall presentation is very clean it’s also not as visually impressive as its competition
  • The narrative element could have been omitted without any negative consequence