Publisher: X.D. Network Inc.
Platforms: Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, MS Window, Mac
Review on Steam by Brooke Ali
The summary for Muse Dash (2019) says, “Come and fix the world movement tampered with by a mirror image code with three beauties” which pretty much tells you everything you need to know, right?
You start off as Rin, whose attack consists of slashing enemies with her bass guitar, which is pretty rad. Other “beauties” (there’s more than three) are unlocked as you collect character tokens. Each character requires eight of her signature token pieces to unlock, and each character brings her own bonus ability to the table. Tokens also unlock Elfins, cute little creatures that give another bonus or ability. Combining characters and Elfins lends an element of strategy to the gameplay.
You have two attack moves: a forward slash and a jump attack. As you continually move forward in the game, you encounter enemies in line with your two attack positions. Hitting the right attack button in time with the music will POW those enemies right out of there! You can also do a double attack by hitting both buttons at once, or perform a perfect musical riff by holding down the button in line with the streak of music notes.
The level design is bright and fun, matching the tone and style of the music you’re playing along to. This game definitely has its own unique look that is recognizable and consistent throughout the different level designs. The enemies and bosses are absolutely adorable; I almost feel bad about slashing the smiling sky kitties! The female characters’ outfits do lean quite heavily into the “male gaze” style, with some outfits so skimpy that Steam felt the need to include a Mature Content Warning on the game’s page.
The soundtrack highlights bands from China and Japan, offering a selection of upbeat, pop-y songs. As with any good rhythm game, these aren’t just a bunch of tunes thrown together by the sound department of the dev studio; these songs are supplied by established bands, some with IMDB credits. While there’s not a huge amount of breadth in the music styles, there is enough difference to keep the music feeling fresh as you play through the levels.
Muse Dash combines a runner game with a rhythm game for a fun and musical experience. It’s surprising that these two game genres aren’t combined more often as they seem to fit each other naturally. The game difficulties scale well, with Easy mode being accessible enough to start you off with confidence, while the Hard and Master modes really bring it for seasoned rhythm gamers.