A love rhythm action games and some of the trickier games in the genre are ones that ask you to bring your inner rhythm to the party. A Musical Story does this by placing you into a 70’s roadtrip to a psychedelic rock festal to perform. There’s plenty to enjoy style wise, even if sometimes the actual execution has a few rough edges.
The game plays out like Parappa the Rapper – using a call and response style method. You hear and see the rhythm and the buttons you need to press and they display around the circular frame that all the visual story is contained in. Then once the musical bar is over you have to replay back things without the musical cues. You can add the musical cues visually back in again but doing so locks you out of completing the level with a perfect and thus you cannot unlock the final chapter and true ending of the game. It’s great that most of the time the visual distractions are missing from A Musical Story so you can focus on the rhythm itself. The rhythm changes each music bar and so does the instrument too. It can catch you out as sometimes the new instruments aren’t always as obvious to spot.
Across the 25 chapters, the songs range from 90 second jams to 4 minute psychedelic rock anthems with quirky guitar solos. The songs are well structured but they aren’t memorable. This is primarily because its not a verse/chorus hook because each bar adds new instrumentation so its like a layer cake of ideas.
Control wise, the game plays similarly to Taiko Drum Master / Taiko No Tatsujin. You have a left and right semi circle and can press many buttons on the side of a controller to fit your playstyle. Some buttons ask for both buttons to be pressed and others are a press and hold. It is very simple to pick up and understand but sometimes the timing can be off. I lost count of the amount of times my timing was approved and I wasn’t even visually in the right place. Then elsewhere, the timing was ruled as too early or late and I was just overlapping the UI by a tiny smidge. It veers from generously easy to needlessly harsh from song to song and is in need of some consistency. One mistake per song locks you out of a perfect and it is no wonder hardly anyone has got the final chapter because its a chore to argue with the game over sync issues. That being said, just passing a song is very easy as the same loop keeps going until you pass it. Seeing the end of the game isn’t hard, getting perfects beyond level 15 (of 25) is very difficult.
So far I’ve been quite critical but I must also stress that as game, it is enjoyable to play so long as you aren’t a perfectionist. I got a bit annoyed at the casual drug use in the story being almost glorified at times but you know, the 70’s… I didn’t find the lead character very relatable or likeable but the story it sells is a good one. Rhythm gamers will enjoy it as a brief but unique entry into the genre. Everyone else can dip their toes into a music game that doesn’t require tons of skill to see the majority of the game. A tentative recommendation, but more for those with an inner rhythm and musicality.
A Musical Story
Rough around the edges but a unique spin on the rhythm action genre both in style and sound.
Unique style visually and musically.
Low barrier to entry if you want to just enjoy the non-spoken story.
Quite a few different styles of music.
Some inconsistent sync issues means sometimes if you less than perfect, sometimes that's fine, other times its not.
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