Muse Dash

Nathan's glued his fingers back on just in time to write the review for Muse Dash.

Posted by Nate on 23 June 2019 at 12:26PM

Please note, this review is for the base game and not including the 'Just as Planned' DLC content.

Upon beating the final level in Muse Dash – MilK – I'd hit the shoulder buttons on my controller over twenty-thousand times, had slightly sore fingers and listened to more pop music than I've done in the last five years combined. I was planning to stop for a break roughly three hours before finishing it, but the 'one-more-go' feeling is strong in this game.

Muse Dash is a rhythm game which focuses on two lines – one high and one low – of enemies coming towards you. Once they come into the circle, you hit one of the shoulder buttons to hit. Simple. The difficulty comes in the range of enemy types. The standard enemies come right to left, others come from angles or swerve on to the screen at the last minute amongst others. There are even ghosts that become invisible on their approach.

Now, I'm fairly good at rhythm games and found it terribly easy to begin with. I was concerned that I would breeze through without seeing any real challenge. How wrong I was! There are two levels of difficulty unlocked immediately – easy and hard – with master difficulty unlocking if you get an S rank on hard. Unless you are very inexperienced with this kind of game, I would recommend defaulting to hard as you play through. About two thirds of the way through the available levels is when I noticed the difficulty spike. It feels like the master difficulty is how the game was intended to be played, with every hit in time with the beat of the music. Easier difficulties had enemies missing which didn't quite line up right with the music.

There were about five levels I could not finish on master difficulty. Using the shoulder buttons restrict you when the beat goes ridiculously fast and I couldn't adjust my brain to use other buttons for the game. It's the most challenging rhythm game I've played in years, even though it takes about half the game to become engaging.

There is a wide range of music throughout, most of which I disliked (but that's just me detesting dubstep and some of the J-pop on show) but I can't really criticize it. There were certainly some tracks that I did enjoy, most noticeably those leaning more towards jazz.

For £3 there is a lot of content here. I got to character level 55 and finished all levels on at least the hard difficulty in a little over four hours. I don't really understand why on PC the game is split into two parts with the vast majority of the game locked behind £25 DLC (there is only one version of the switch game and it includes everything).

While the bright colours and smooth animation are pleasant, I do wish there were more backgrounds. I only came across four in the game (and the art repeats itself very quickly within each stage). I have no idea if there is more variety in the full game but I'd certainly hope so. However, once the difficulty really ramps up I paid no attention to anything other than hitting the beats so the background didn't really matter.

I think the nicest thing I can say about the character design/artwork is that it's not my kind of thing. The base character costumes are fine but the swimsuits, maid costumes etc are all a bit much. The art upon launching the game is a bit of an assault on the eyes, with all three characters on a bed seemingly tangled with each other. The artist needs to learn how anatomy works as there would be at least one broken spine in this piece!

Each character has a special ability which does tend to help. One character becomes invincible when in fever (something that saved me on a couple particularly troubling master difficult levels), whereas another character doesn't lose their combo if hit as long as it's under one hundred. You can unlock elfins as well. These fly alongside you and grant an additional perk.

The variety in enemy types and the considerable challenge on the hardest difficulty made Muse Dash a fun and oddly addictive experience. I'm glad to have finished it but I was fully engrossed in trying to get S ranks on as many levels as possible. It's the best rhythm game in this fashion I've played in years.

The good

  • Excellent rhythm action once the difficulty ramps up
  • Lots of content for £2.99
  • Large variety of music

The bad

  • the 'fan service' is a bit much and not necessary
  • it feels odd that most of the game is locked behind DLC
  • only four stage backgrounds.