Today, we’ll be given the unique opportunity to pretend like we’re orchestra conductors with our thumbs! In Cytus, your smartphone’s touch screen will become a tap screen.
Developer: Rayark Games
Publisher: Rayark Games
Platform: iOS, Android, PlayStation Vita
Release: Jan 12, 2012
Cytus is a musical rhythm for smartphones. You start by picking a song, and as it plays, a series of different kinds of buttons will appear on screen for you to tap in time. While the buttons pop up, there will be a black bar bouncing up and down the screen like a scanner. Ideally, you’re supposed to press the buttons as the bar passes them.
There are three different types of buttons. First is the basic button that you tap once as expected. Then, there’re the hold buttons which you hold in until the bar passes the end of the stream. Finally there are slide buttons that you slide left, right, up, down, and diagonally, like so many Tinder matches. Additionally, each button will be either purple or green depending on which direction the scanner should be going when you tap them.
In writing, that sounds like quite a lot, but it’s really easy to get a hold of. Also, if this all sounds somewhat familiar, then it’s probably because you may have played games like Osu! on the PC. Cytus is much like that, but with an extra mouse, i.e. your fingers.
As simple as Cytus is, it is actually insanely fun. The “maps,” for lack of a better word, are laid out perfectly along with the song in ways that rarely become repetitive and boring. It always switches things up, even if that’s simply by moving the locations of the buttons. It seems odd to say, but letting your fingers dance atop your phone’s screen is surprisingly satisfying.
My only two major gripes about Cytus’s gameplay are that the songs are a little short – especially the early songs – and that the game can be a little too forgiving. In spite of having a really hard time in some of the more difficult songs, I’ve never once managed to actually fail one. That’s both because the scoring is a bit on your side and because you actually have a larger window of opportunity to hit each notes than you might expect.
Overall, though, the gameplay is absolutely fun, and each song begs to be completed perfectly, affording plenty of replayability.
While there is no explicit story being told in Cytus, all of the songs are grouped up into ten or so different chapters. Each of these chapters is titled in such a way as to imply a narrative. As a rhythm game, Cytus doesn’t really need a narrative to be enjoyable, but I think the mysterious nature of the chapters as well as their accompanying post-apocalyptic, robot-dominated images leave quite a lot to the imagination. It’s quite a nice touch.
Since the main focus of Cytus is its music, the graphics take a back seat. That said, there are a lot of very nice pieces of artwork, one for each song. Even the background images for the main menu and chapter selection menu are intriguing and pretty. Best of all, while the background images are nice to look at, they are never distracting from the core action of the gameplay.
Now, of course, we get to the real meat of this game: the music. Cytus has tons of realy good original songs. While most of it is video-gamey electronica or even dubstep style music, plenty of rock, pop, and even hip-hop style songs are strewn about here and there. So far, I haven’t come across any songs that I didn’t like.
Much of the music sound just like the type of music you’ll find in your typical JRPG or in any kind of game’s boss battles. Several songs remind me of the Touhou series, which is fairly well known for having exquisite music. As a whole, the music is nicely varied, but with an emphasis on futuristic-feeling electronic sound.
While Cytus does come as a free download from the Play Store, the free version also comes with a thirty second waiting period before each song. The thirty seconds doesn’t really break the game unless you are super impatient, so I think it’s still worth the download. On the other hand, you can purchase the game for a measly $2.00 and do away with the waiting altogether. I personally highly recommend buying into it, since it really is about the price of a candy bar. I’ve been playing Cytus nearly every chance I get, easily racking up ten or so hours, which immediately makes the two bucks worth it. The only thing I’m not so sure about is the DLC. There are several separate chapters with newer songs. Each chapter costs about $5.00, which is, of course, twice the price of the game itself. Those chapters cannot even be played with the waiting period, so those should probably be skipped unless you really want to support the developer.
Cytus is a striking good and fun rhythm game with some great music and highly entertaining “maps.” On the more difficult songs, it really takes advantage of the fact that you have at least two fingers, lending for some very crazy fun button combinations. While not really necessary factors, the artwork and implied narrative are really nice touches that show some real thought and effort poured into this game. All in all, Cytus is one game that you should definitely consider keeping on your phone, especially if you carry a pair of earphones with you.
-Some short songs
-Sometimes too forgiving
-Comparatively expensive DLC
Score: 4 / 5