When it comes to rhythm games, it can be hard to find a niche that makes a game special. Muse Dash though, is able to somehow be extremely accessible and simple while also being able to offer a significant challenge to seasoned rhythm game players.
When you first boot up Muse Dash you’re greeted with an extremely stylized cute anime aesthetic that’s pretty hard to look away from. It’s bright eye catching colors, loud and catchy tunes, and well designed characters make the game feel like something special.
It’s gameplay sets itself apart from many other rhythm games as well. Instead of a ton of gimmicks that give the game a huge amount of mechanics just to further the difficulty, Muse Dash keeps gameplay simple. You play as one of three characters, and there are only two lines of notes to hit, high and low.
The game presents itself as a combat rhythm game whereas you are running into a hoard of cutesy monsters, robots, and ghouls to fight the eventual boss.
Monsters come at you to the rhythm of the music and as you tap the high and low notes your character punches and kicks through enemies. Miss a note though and you’ll take damage to your HP bar.
Throughout the song, a boss will attempt to take you down using notes that come just a little bit faster and from different angles, and at times they’ll charge head-on themselves. When they do, a simple well timed tap will do the job, but typically towards the end of a track they’ll come in for one last try at you. When this happens you go into a quick button smashing even to get as many hits on the boss as possible.
When it comes to music, Muse Dash has plenty to offer.
If you’re into the electronic rhythm game style music or cutesy Japanese anime-style music then you won’t dislike a single track. If this puts you off, then you’re out of luck.
It’s hard to express though, just how much I thoroughly enjoyed Muse Dash’s track list. I didn’t dislike a single song, and the music I enjoyed was instant daily listening material. I’m sure I annoyed plenty of people trying to get the highest scores on my favorite songs as I played them nonstop on repeat.
While playing through Muse Dash you’ll unlock various outfits for the three girls, Buro, Rin, or Marija, you can choose to play as. Each outfit has its own set of unique buffs and abilities that will apply during your gameplay.
Of course, each outfit has its own fan-service target, so if that’s something you aren’t accustomed to or interested in then this could a be a huge turn off.
While unlocking new outfits, you’ll also unlock small floating sprites called Elfins.
Elfins also give you small buffs in-game to help keep you alive during rough sections of songs, give you extra score for hitting notes perfectly, catch notes that you may have missed, etc.
They give the game another point of strategy, and when utilized correctly can help you practice more effectively and raise your score higher on the leaderboards.
Sadly though this is all there is to the customization. For some players not looking to climb the leaderboards the lack of actual customization might make the game feel a little empty.
If you are trying to shoot up the leaderboards though, don’t worry too much about it right away, because while you may crack the top 1000 or so on hard difficulty, the unlockable Master difficulty really brings a challenge that’s hard to see coming.
When you first start playing a rhythm game with only 2 rows of notes to hit and only a couple of special notes that are quicker or turn transparent when they reach you, you don’t feel like it could get all that challenging.
It gets extremely challenging.
When ramping certain songs up to Master difficulty, especially songs in the Give Up Treatment DLC packs, things get hectic to an extreme. It really surprised me just how much difficulty can be squeezed out of a fairly basic rhythm game, but I should’ve expected just as much from a Japanese rhythm game.
If you decide to pick up the base edition of Muse Dash on PC, you’re going to get an amazing 40 songs out of your $3. If you decide to upgrade your purchase and pick up the DLC songs you’ll be paying another $30, but in return you’ll receive all currently released 13 DLC packs, each containing 6 songs each, as well as a new music pack every month.
If you decide to buy the game on Nintendo Switch however, you’ll only be able to purchase the full game with all current and future DLC included.
What developer PeroPeroGames has been able to do with Muse Dash is remarkable, with such a cheap entry price on PC its hard not to at least give the game a try. For $30 though, I could see many deciding that the price point is just a bit too high for a rhythm game.
While customization may feel a little bare-bones to some, everything else from its music, to the art direction, to the gameplay is hard to beat.