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Aug 10, 2012

Symphony Review

Lights Off
3 Okay
Retails for: $9.99
We Recommend: $6.99
  • Developer: Empty Clip Studios
  • Publisher: Empty Clip Studios
  • Genre: Music
  • Released: Aug 06, 2012
  • Platform: Windows
  • Reviewed: Windows

Much like Audiosurf and Beat Hazard before it, Symphony is music-driven shooter employing blazingly bright colors and visual trickery as a backdrop while utilizing your music library as the set piece. Symphony in the strictest and most relatable definition is: “anything characterized by a harmonious combination of elements, especially an effective combination of colors”. And in that, it mostly succeeds.

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Symphony starts you off on the very easy difficulty setting while you use songs from the soundtrack or choose to import songs into the game. You playing as the ship must shoot enemies dropped in, Galaga-style. Once killed they drop notes that must be collected in order to get a score. Using your mouse you can fire your weapons manually or set them to auto-fire. Without accuracy being a part of the scoring at the end of the song, you’d be remiss to not turn that option on.

As your music plays, depending on genre, length, and other factors the game will analyze what to make intense and what not to. There is a minimum length that can be loaded, set at 1 minute and 30 seconds. I have not tried using comedy albums or podcasts to confuse the game or break it in anyway. I would be confident that most of the “game” would be boring with moments of intensity. The game’s pretty good about incorporating the intensity of the song with a visual identifier to accompany the look. Blue is for mellow, purple for a challenge, and red for the most intense – and enemies spit out from every direction, except from behind. If you like house music or dubstep, you’re guaranteed to see red through the entire song and in for a challenge.

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Oh, there’s a story to this whole thing too. It’s pretty simple but interesting: There’s a music demon in your computer wanting to corrupt your music and so you have to destroy them all to save your music from being lost. There is no literal danger to your precious music files. But it does make things personal by putting your music at risk. It’s a neat touch and increases the longevity of the game giving you a sense of progression.

When a demon has been slayed, it’ll give you a piece of The Symphony of Souls. Once a full page has been collected, a new difficulty is unlocked. There are an unhealthy amount of difficulties to the game. Depending on the song choice, can feel nearly impossible and you’ll regret your difficulty choice.

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Empty Clip Studios included a plethora of different weapons to choose from to keep the look of shooting guns cool, such as the subwoofer, cannon, rockets, lasers, and an upgrade system for every weapon type. You can even orientate the direction of the four weapons mounted to your ship. The best thing for me was to set the two wing weapons to the sides and leave two weapons pointing forward. It reduced my deaths. Mixing and matching weapons are okay but you’re likely to keep what you like and not experiment too often other than to see how the new weapon you unlocked works. The weaker the weapon, the higher your multiplier is for scoring purposes.

Taking damage breaks your ship apart into pieces. The very same notes you collect for score also repair your ship. You must be aware of your damage as you will lose any one of your weapons and likely get yourself killed. You have infinite lives per song, so there is no way to fail, but you lose 2500pts per death and that can add up pretty quick if you’re not making more than that between lives.

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Symphony is good, just not great. Some of the enemy deployment seems to be out of sync with the musical intensity of the song it scanned in for you. But playing in a dark room with headphones provides an immersive visual splendor as you are driven by the very music you listen to as you extinguish all the enemies on the screen. The only person to blame about the game’s soundtrack, is you.

A download code was provided by PR for review purposes