Iâm a huge fan of games which utilise ways to incorporate their soundtracks or other music into the gameplay itself; I remember spending many hours in front of titles such as Vib-Ribbon (PSone) and Space Channel 5 (Dreamcast/Xbox), for example. So, with the recent release of the thematically similar Symphony from Empty Clip Studios, I was more than happy to put on my headphones and jam out for a few hours.
Symphony is actually quite a simple concept, in which you control a small vector-based fighter on a vertical playfield. Think of Symphony as somewhat of a modern day space invaders, only here you are taunted not by space aliens but by an evil presence hiding in amongst your own music. Thatâs right, Symphony scans your music collection (it supports a wide range of formats) and then uses the tracks it finds to form the basis of its levels.
I have a playlist of about 2,000 songs, which the game picked up just fine in my iTunes folder. Each track then became its own âlevelâ, in which I had to fight varying types of ships that fly in from either side of the screen. The music's beat, rhythm, and intensity determine which enemies come in to take you down, while your quest is just to survive the length of the song.
But itâs not only the small ships and winged vector beasts that attempt to smash your jukebox-based ship; the evil within has also taken control of your music artistsâ souls and forced them to manifest into demons. You encounter these demons in a random selection of the music, and you'll need to defeat them if you're to release their souls and, ultimately, reveal something called "the shrouded Symphony of Souls", bringing peace and neutrality back into your playlists.
Visually the game is nuts. If you like the sound of fluorescent vectors that constantly change colour, sparks that fill most of the screen space in front of you, and a constant barrage of laser fire, then youâre going to love this epic light show. I definitely would not recommend anyone with epilepsy even look at screenshots of Symphony.
I have a number songs in my playlists which really let this game shine; music from groups like Nightwish or soundtracks like SSX 2012 explode in intensity and really up the tempo, turning levels into very rewarding eye candy.
As you play through each song you will notice that the game is extremely responsive to the rhythm in several different ways, from affecting the speed and difficulty of enemies, to the colour of the playing field and the various additional blasters or weapons you can unlock as you progress from track to track.
You gain score based on how many music notes - called inspiration - you collect from destroyed enemy ships. Inspiration will also repair your ship if you collide with any oncoming enemy fire, but it will cost you score each time your ship is destroyed; you won't find a âgame overâ here, however, as you have unlimited lives during a track. Your score can then be uploaded to the leaderboards, where other players can see what songs you listen to and what scores you got.
While Symphony comes with a handful of indie tracks by default, the game really relies on you to provide the musical backdrop. Once I started using my own music, stuff that I listen to often, I got more enjoyment out of the experience. Itâs like listening to a song all over again; I found myself trying other songs I don't listen to much anymore just to see what they would do in game.
Symphony is a good game, however the longevity of the title will really come down to the depth of your playlist. You can go get Symphony from gog.com for $9.95USD (about $12.50).