Developed by PeroPeroGames Published by X.D. Network Reviewed on Nintendo Switch (also available on Steam)
With straightforward mechanics, entrancing visuals, and catchy tunes, rhythm games have been a consistently appealing genre. Performing actions to the right timing is intuitive and rewarding. Muse Dash provides a unique colorful take on the genre. While its two-button mechanics are simple and straightforward, the widely varied note patterns are engaging and a joy to experience. Furthermore, the visuals are appealing, well animated, and vibrant. Muse Dash’s polished presentation and extensive replayability result in a compelling rhythm experience for players of all skill levels.
While its two-button mechanics are simple, Muse Dash presents plenty of combinations that can keep players on their toes. The game fundamentally follows traditional rhythm game mechanics as the player presses buttons when cues overlap the target. Muse Dash’s presentation is different from the norm as its side-scrolling view is reminiscent of 2D action games. The player’s character runs in the bottom left corner as enemies appear from the right side. These enemies appear on one of two lanes, which requires different button presses. Sometimes the player must hold a button down, press both at the same time, or press buttons rapidly depending on the enemies’ patterns. Missing an input results in getting hit, which depletes the player’s health. A depleted health bar results in song failure, but players can pick up items mid song to recover life.
One of the game’s most striking elements is its visual style, which is full of kinetic colorful action. Every visual element is full of saturated color, which is consistently exciting and dynamic. The interface’s hot pinks and electric blues is flashy and expressive. The three playable characters Rin, Buro, and Marija move fluidly as they attack incoming enemies and pose on the game’s menus. Just by scrolling through the character select screen, the player can experience plenty of smooth animation. Each song background is a journey through forests, industrial interiors, and other locales. Naturally, every area is full of bold shapes that stand out on-screen. The enemies are highly varied as they include cute critters, energy spheres, and mechs. Compared to other games’ simple visual cues, seeing a range of different enemies is refreshing. The one catch is that it can take a bit of practice to react to multiple incoming enemy types, but the color coding keeps the action grounded.
With an extensive line-up that spans multiple genres, Muse Dash’s music is also compelling as well. With catchy pop vocals, classical-inspired tracks, and high-tempo synth tunes, Muse Dash has plenty to offer. The game has a primary default playlist as well as themed mini-albums full of additional tracks. Many of the game’s songs are full of wonderful vocal performances. “Amakakeru Soukyuu no Serenade” by Sakamiya feat. Arata Kiki is a chirpy delight, and “Tsubasa no Oreta Tenshitachi no Requiem” by Sakamiya feat. Maeno features impactful sweeping delivery. The roster also features some renowned game composers such as Yamajet and xi. In addition, the inclusion of the beloved idiosyncratic hit “Brain Power” by NOMA allows players to experience the wonder of upbeat nonsensical lyrics.
Muse Dash boasts an incredible amount of replayability between unlockable material and multiple challenge lists. Each song has its own achievement list, and the game also has a global challenge list that involves fulfilling specific criteria like completing songs on certain difficulties. Furthermore, almost every song has three playable difficulties. Accessing the third difficulty requires getting an S rank on Hard, which can take a bit of practice. The game’s level-up progression system provides a constant sense of satisfaction. Clearing songs boosts the player’s experience gauge at a steady rate. Each new level provides a new playable song and gradually unlocks new characters and skins. Each of these skins has a unique buff, which also further bolsters the game’s replayability. With more than sixty default playable songs and over thirty unlockable tracks, the game can certainly keep players busy for a while.
With its simple inputs, vibrant visuals, and well-crafted presentation, Muse Dash feels like a unique rhythm game title. Even though the inputs consist of just two buttons, the game’s use of alternating tap and hold patterns keeps the action fresh. The game features plenty of replayability via its unlockables and challenge lists which can keep players occupied for hours on end. The playable characters and enemies are expressive and cartoony, which really makes the game a delight to play and watch. For those seeking a solid rhythm gaming experience at home or on the go, Muse Dash will undoubtedly provide some delightful thrills.