A pleaseant and exciting way to experience your music collection
April - 17th - 2020
DEVELOPER: Empty Clip Studios
PUBLISHER: Empty Clip Studios
|Genre||Vertical Shmup, Music Based Procedural Generation, Score Attack|
|Similar Games/Series/Genres||Beat Hazard, Audiosurf|
|Art Style||Transparent 3D models, Color Shifting, Rainbows, High Particle Counts, Bloom|
|Value for Price($5 or less on sale)||High|
|Replay Value||High to Infinite|
|Quality||Medium to High|
|Difficulty||Varies based on difficulty selection|
My experience with the game after a few hours with the game as a fan of the genre.
This impression doesn't cover all aspects of the game, but can apply to most of it
Premium: Buy the Game, play the game.
No known DLC or microtransactions
- GREAT -
Symphony is a unique and simple way to engage with your music library in an entertaining shooter. A pleasant presentation makes the game a joy to play, but the visual overload of the stages will be burdensome for some players.
The years from 2005 to 2015 saw many games with music generated gameplay. Games like Osu!, BeatMania, and Audiosurf picked up in popularity in the indie scene, allowing players to import their own tracks and allowing unlimited gameplay in tandem with their game libraries. Beat Hazard came out in 2011 as a shmup that based your firepower and enemy waves on your music, and Symphony released the next year. While Beat Hazard is flashy, it isn't as pleasing to look at in my opinion and graphically speaking, comes off as a messy Flash game, at least in appearance (but very fun to play! Check it out).
Symphony is more pleasing to look at, having a more unified look as the levels and assets themselves are transparent while a color shifts between different hue over time. Your ship is always golden orange, enemy attacks are always red or reddish, pickups are flashy rainbow to stick out from the background. The main track has a mirror like appearance that reflects enemy ships, and the back of the track has the same kind of spectrum visualizer you see in many music program in tune with your music. It all ads to a vibrant and pretty looking game that pops everytime you play it. What gets a little messy is the particle effects, which while looking great, can get a little excessive and visually noisy, which is a problem in a challenging shooter that requires some precision at times and bullets can kill your ship in one hit. You can turn down or off the reflections, and turning off the bloom definitely helps a good bit, but the particles are numerous and borders on excessive and can't be changed. They aren't a big problem for me, but there have been a couple times I confused an enemy's death explosion to a bullet or vice versa, or become so distracted by the sparks, shrapnel and explosions that got me uncomfortably close to death. The effects are exciting and beautiful, but a slider to tone them down a bit would be helpful for skilled players and possibly essential for those with photo sensitivity/epilepsy.
Symphony comes with it's own robust and varying soundtrack, and honestly, if it wasn't for me going back my music collection to find it, I wouldn't remember what was in it besides the menu music.
This isn't because the music included is bad. In quite, it is pretty good and has a mild variety from piano "plinky plonky" tracks, to Electronica, some soft and Indie rock and a few Pop or Folk style songs. Thing is, I have well over 40k tracks of my own music that is obviously more catered to my tastes, and after the game takes a solid 15 minutes or longer to scan it all, I'm more interested in playing some of the tracks I haven't quite heard from my collection. You might be able to "Complete" the game without your own music, but that would defeat the purpose of the experience, and the game chooses at random which ones it will "corrupt" a track with a demon, which is a boss that needs to be defeated in a certain amount of time of a track. From what I can tell you need to collect five "Symponies" to beat the game, which are separated into five pieces, leaving me to believe there are about 25 different bosses. The game applies the boss seemingly at random, so I don't think there are enough tracks included to get all the pages. Besides, you'd want more tracks to get the Inspiration (Points) and Kudos (Stars for completing Point goals depending on the difficulty).
You need these currencies to buy and upgrade weapons.
Symphony is a shmup after all - one that lets you customize your weapons from a variety of different gun types, from blasters, shotgun style guns, missile launcher style guns, one that shoots a power lance after a slow charge, and even a "Subwoofer" that shoots a powerful note based on the rhythm of the song. The player ship has four points to mount guns, which can also be rotated in about 16 directions, allowing you to aim them all forward, or spread them wide, or have them cover your back and side. It would be neat to see this in other shmups, but it's clear this is part of the game's more "free" design. Most vertical shmups allow you to move somewhat fast or relatively slow and the best strategy is to stay close to the bottom of the screen and shoot enemies from afar. In Symphony, you can move your ship almost as fast as you can move your mouse or joystick, allowing complete freedom of moment on the vertical track, which is necessary for some waves, as well as for collecting drops. Drops include small and medium points that drop from all enemies, large ones that add to your chain score, weapon powerups, temporary invincibility power ups, and a bomb to clear all hazards with in its range of pick up.
The Chain score pick ups are the most interesting and integral part to scoring (and thus, giving you the points you need for guns and upgrades).
Pick up a chain point, and your Chain score increases by one, giving you a large chunk of points. The higher your chain, the more points you get. However, the chain will eventually fade and reset to zero. A more casual player will pick them up whenever they can, or even not all, but a more seasoned player will learn to be patient and try to grab them one at a time to keep the chain going, especially since the Chain points will fade after a few seconds. It adds a nice layer of strategy and suspense to a game that is otherwise just about shooting enemies and dodging bullets. They tend to drop from the end of an enemy wave or from a larger foe, so the best tactic is to learn who to kill and what position you need to do so, further emphasizing the importance of the placement of your guns - after all enemies spawn from the side and top of the screen and your movement may cause them to be anywhere around your ship, causing you not to be able to kill enemies in your blind spots"