When I play a music game, the most important things I’m looking for are good music and approachable gameplay. Cytus [$0.99] by Rayark manages to nail both of those and even adds a little bit of visual flair on top of it. While Cytus does have a few small issues and miscues in regards to a few elements, it’s still great to play and is a worthy addition to the iOS rhythm genre.

Cytus plays similarly to Elite Beat Agents – note bubbles appear on your screen and must be tapped to the rhythm of the song. An ‘Active Scan Line’ moves up and down the screen to the beat of the song and helps you time the hits on each note. In addition to normal notes, the game also features holds and slides which add some variety to the gameplay. Hits are scored on a system ranging from ‘Perfect’ to ‘Bad’ with a final ranking at song completion dependent on the length of your hit chain and the amount perfect hits.

As you can imagine, the gameplay is pretty simple, but well executed. While the note positioning is mostly done well, there were a few songs where the notes seemed slightly off or not in tune with either the beat or off-beat. There weren’t too many instances of this, but it was still annoying nonetheless.

Where Cytus really shines is in its music selection and presentation. Song-wise, players can choose from 15 songs ranging from J-Pop to Techno with a little bit of Synthpop thrown into the mix. The song selection is very much Bemani-inspired and should sound familiar to anyone that has played those types of games before.

While I imagine some gamers may immediately scoff at the music genres I just listed, I’d plead with you to give it a chance. One of the things I loved about each song in Cytus is the approachability regardless of whether you’re a fan of that sort of music. It’s not very often that I play through a music game and I pretty much like every single song that’s thrown at me, which should speak volumes of the care put into the selection in this game. Just make sure you play with some headphones in order to do the music justice.

The overall presentation, meanwhile, is one of the more striking aspects of Cytus. Everything has a very clean, minimalistic feel accompanied with some beautiful artwork. It’s hard to explain what in particular is so appealing – maybe it’s because the whole game looks like a modern Final Fantasy-menu. Also included is Game Center support as well as social network integration. There were a few instances where the interface was a little too bare (for example, the tutorial fails to explain the various pop-up mode options), but otherwise I came away impressed.

While Cytus gets a lot of things right, there are a few elements missing that are typically standard in most music games. For example, there’s no ‘life meter’ in Cytus, meaning that you could just simply launch a song, not do anything and still see the level through (technically, you ‘Fail’ the level, but you don’t know until after the song ends). Granted, you actually have to get a ranking higher than the minimum in order to unlock the ‘Hard’ difficulty and new songs, but some of the fun with music games is working under the pressure of an all-powerful meter judging your performance (or maybe I’m just a masochist).

Another weakness in Cytus is in regards to the hit detection. Basically, the hit window is relatively loose, meaning that you have a wide margin of error between what is considered a ‘Perfect’ tap and what is considered merely a ‘Good’ hit (or between ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ for that matter). While some folks wouldn’t necessarily consider this a bad thing it does decrease the overall challenge, particularly for those of us that are veterans of music games that were rather unforgiving.

Despite these omissions, Cytus still does a great job executing the features it does have. Considering its relative minimalism, I think Cytus is a good title for gamers looking to get into the music genre on iOS devices. I would have liked to have seen more songs, but I’m hoping the developers will add more in the future. Regardless, with a great selection of music, simple but well-executed gameplay, and a good, clean overall presentation, Cytus is well worth a recommendation for anyone interested in rhythm games.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Anonymous

    These are the kind of games which I love about iOS; games that make perfect use of the touchscreen, instead of trying to emulate physical controls. It's easily one of my favorite music games, alongside Jubeat and Groove Coaster, and just one of my favorite games in general. The only gripes I have are that, even on hard difficulty, some songs are still generally pretty easy (I play on the "no-pop up mode" just to make things a little bit harder) and (the current) lack of songs; both of which can easily be remedied in updates. Hopefully, with enough support, Rayark adds more songs; even as paid DLC, I'd willingly buy it immediately. 😀

  • http://clickplow.com/ John

    Yeah these kind of games really make good use of touch screen controls. I have virtual joysticks, but thats a personal preference. These kind of games (i.e.: rock bank, guitar hero, etc) are fun to play on the go.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/IAMJRO7UDX2R5DMJMCXKEZTJ6Q lnradak

    If you let my message stay on this site, i will immediatly stop after user "Sanuku" has been proven GUILTY or INNOCENT. If you do not agree with these reasonably terms, then my fellow members will be forced to spam this site until justice has been served. If it was possible for me to be back on this site after being "forever banned", then it is also possible for 10 people being banned and unbanned ever 10 minutes.
                    Original Post
    [I believe you are a pirate. I believe you download cracked Appstore Apps then you review them.
    Im pretty sure this comment will be reported and soon removed, but it is obvious that you are a pirate. If TouchArcade is truly against piracy, then they will not censor my accusation, because i am clearly not breaking the rules:

    "- No piracy. Discussion about piracy in the [B][U][I]abstract[/I][/U][/B] is acceptable. But links or how-to's or where to get pirated software/ROMs will quickly result in banning."

    You have the right to defend yourself, and the only evidence that can protect you is the receipt/ bill iTunes sends to your email/ Apple Account. All you have to do is take a screenshot of the bill/receipt of all your recent purchases with the correct Store/Time/ Game ID, and nothing more is required. You can censor out the billing information/ E-mail.]

    EDIT-- Yes, i was indeed banned by a mod "forever", and not even a warning given. It seems TA they can ban me for not breaking their rules.
    If you let my message stay on this site, i will immediatly stop after user "Sanuku" has been proven GUILTY or INNOCENT. If you do not agree with these reasonably terms, then my fellow members will be forced to spam this site until justice has been served. If it was possible for me to be back on this site after being "forever banned", then it is also possible for 10 people being banned and unbanned ever 10 minutes.

    This is only Wave 1, of something that can possibly go on for ever 5-10 minutes

    No matter how many times you try to censor us, you will Fail.

    If you truly support Sanuku and his actions, then your site will Fall, whether or not SOPA/PIPA are granted or dismissed!

    • homosaur

      Man I'm glad Eric linked back here as I missed this little bit of hilarity.

  • Anonymous

    The presentation in the game is very slick and polished.  Plus, I've already heard that more songs are coming, not through IAP but for free!

    Definitely worth checking out if you're a fan at all of music/rhythm games.

  • http://twitter.com/Raggamissile PJ Robin

    I enjoy this game greatly, and I recommend it to all iOS owners who enjoy music-rhythm games. I was a big fan of Pentavision's DJMax Technika and it feels nice to have something as frighteningly similar to it on my iPad.

  • Alex K

    You seem to have missed that there are 2 kinds of perfect, the ring expands with a band of color if it was very accurate, while it expands a black ring during a 'black' perfect which is the wide margin of error you spoke of, so you can just watch for it to happen if you're going for a perfect TP score and know you screwed up (I've played a lot of rhythm games and the timing for the actual perfect perfects is tight enough that I've found myself re-adjusting the scan line latency for different songs because it was being thrown off by a millisecond or two, which is not something you'll ever need if you're just looking for the "Perfect" word to pop up period)

Cytus Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4