In todays world it seems like bigger is better. Whether it is characters in Smash Bros, a world to traverse in Red Dead Redemption 2, or heroes in the Avengers everything seems to be getting bigger. Cytus Alpha aims to do for the rhythm game genre what Infinity War and Endgame did for superhero ensemble movies. Boasting a playlist of over 200 songs, Cytus Alpha is stuffed to the brim with content, but is bigger always better?
The most important piece of information regarding Cytus Alpha that I must make clear, is the fact that it is actually a definitive version of Deemo and VOEZ. The title certainly doesn’t make it clear, so anyone who owns both of these titles won’t find a lot of new content here. There’s meant to be some new ones, but having never played either of the previous games I cannot identify how many are new.
The Nintendo Switch version of Cytus gives players two ways to play. Players can opt for touch controls or make use of a controller. Cytus‘ initial release was for mobile, so touch controls seem like the optimal way to play. Notes appear at different locations on the screen and players must tap, drag or hold to the beat of the music.
It’s a simple and clean control method and takes little time to understand, there’s no power ups or boosts, just timing the notes to get a better score. As for the playing with a controller? There attempt is admirable, but the game certainly loses some appeal when you no longer have to track the notes on the screen and simply press buttons at the right time.
Of course whilst the controls and inputs are important for a rhythm game the other major aspect of the gameplay really boils down to the song selection. The simple truth is that when boasting a tracklist of 200+ it seems redundant to critique the variety of genres on offer. Simply put when you have this many tracks there’s gonna be some you like and some you hate.
It just comes with the territory. Aside from the actual variety in genre’s, Cytus Alpha does offer a good mix of difficulties from its track selection. It certainly never reaches the finger numbing difficulty levels of other titles in the genre like Superbeat: Xonic, but there’s enough challenge to satisfy those who are well versed in the rhythm music world to keep them entertained.
One of the more bizarre additions to be found in Cytus Alpha is its story. The majority of rhythm games tend not to offer a story. You either get titles like the Persona Dancing games which act as fanservice for characters that already exist or you get paper thin ones like some of the Guitar Hero games. So I was interested in just what Cytus was going to offer players when I delved into its story and for the most part I was pleased.
Progression through the story is simple. You just play more songs and then you unlock more story segments. The story is all text based, but does a good job of building a world. The story revolves around Operators. I don’t want to go in to too much detail of what happens, but when these Operators are made who are essentially robots that humans can put themselves into, it brings up a myriad of questions of what it means to be human and from there things develop.
The method by which the story is conveyed is quite intriguing as well. Cytus Alpha doesn’t use a text wall for every aspect of the story telling, but make use of news reports, letters and standard narrative story telling to convey its story. Overall I enjoyed what was on offer. It certainly isn’t a reason to buy the game if you already have VOEZ and Deemo, but it was a nice icing on the cake.
Cytus Alpha doesn’t have a grand amount of content outside the songs and story, but it does offer key features some rhythm games have sadly lacked. Most important of all its extra features is the leaderboards, which aren’t working, but Rayark have stated they will be patched by May 6th 2019. Surprisingly Cytus Alpha also lets players duke it out in 3 player face offs to see who can score highest on the current track being played. It is a bit of a weird idea to be honest.
Players have zero input on their opponent so it plays identical to single player. I can’t say I was impressed by the online, but nor can I say it was poor. The biggest issue is that the matchmaking will keep on pairing you with random players, so you can’t develop a rivalry with someone you face online. So whilst it isn’t bad, it does feel sterile.
So as it stands my time with Cytus Alpha has been an overwhelmingly positive one. I do have one issue though and that is the presentation. The stylistic choice was made to have a very white palette throughout all of the game. Thematically, I get it. Visually? It feels underwhelming after a while. I can understand the menus having it, but even the background for each track has a white layer placed over the illustration for each song. Now I must admit that does help the player spot the notes, but it just made everything so bland. I was having a great time playing, but my eyes were just so bored!
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Cytus Alpha was provided by the publisher.