I like to imagine there's an Oberlin burnout somewhere who's made a living getting bent on ayahuasca and pitching music-history based games to different companies. My hypothetical game designer, wide-eyed and euphoric, is responsible for games like Boom Boom Rocket, Eternal Sonata, Jazz: Trump's Journey [$2.99], and now Frederic --Resurrection of Music [$1.99/HD/Lite], by Forever Entertainment S.A.

In the first scene, set in present-day Paris, Fryderyk Chopin climbs out of his grave, speaks with the Muses, and rap-battles a French DJ with dual-wield keyboards and a jetpack. After this, he rides a horse-and-carriage to Jamaica and gets high with a reggae artist named Rob. Amazing.

As he travels the world in his mystic carriage trying to unravel the circumstances of his undeath, Chopin runs through a series of musical duels with local artists. Mechanically, this translates into a rudimentary version of Piano Hero: notes travel on a track toward a touch-screen piano keys, and players are scored on their accuracy and combo streak.

The songs in Resurrection are modern remixes of Chopin's most famous waltzes, nocturnes, études, and marzukas, re-imagined in the style of whichever locale our hero finds himself: country in Texas, Celtic dance in Ireland, chiptunes in Tokyo. I actually like most of the music -- the Resurrection soundtrack is available for purchase on iTunes [$5.99] -- but they all tend to suffer from repetitive melody and relatively simple arrangements. Still, the lighthearted pop remixes fit into the game's absurdist aesthetic much better than an orchestral score would.

With only nine songs, Resurrection is relatively short, though some players might be able to extend its shelf-life by trying to improve their scores. But even on its hardest difficulty, at its most complex, Resurrection goes out of its way to indulge and empower the player, not defeat them with impossible challenges.

Like Climber Brothers [$0.99], the real joy of Resurrection is the one-to-one relationship between tactile input and feedback: tapping the screen of my iPad is more or less a reasonable facsimile of pressing down a physical key. This is a relatively simple pleasure, but Resurrection goes to great lengths to extend it by being overly-generous  in its design -- players have a relatively large window to hit notes in, and it's almost impossible to miss enough notes to fail a song. The goal here is to listen to the music and soak up the strange animations going on in the background.

Since failure -- and, by extension, most of the game mechanics -- is largely an illusion, Resurrection's real hook is its insane premise and matching art direction. In both its art direction and treatment of ethnic stereotypes, Resurrection draws on the bande dessinée style of mid-80s Lucky Luke. The voice acting, too, is hard to place: British English re-routed through Forever Entertainment's Polish roots.

But Resurrection's essential Europeanness isn't limited to animation and cut scenes, and this isn't a game so much as it is a rewriting of Chopin's cultural identity. During the Cadet Revolution in 1830 Chopin, the son of a Franco-Polish immigrant, fled Warsaw for Paris, never to return. Resurrection ultimately leads him back to a culturally reinvigorated Warsaw, but only after he uses his musical gifts to destroy the stereotyped, corporate shills that populate the rest of the world. Chopin is cast as the savior of music, but it's odd that he uses modern remixes, not his traditional compositions, to further his cause.

By fudging its rhythm mechanics, Frederic -- Resurrection of Music actually presents itself as more of an interactive cartoon than a game. But when viewed as such, Resurrection often comes off muddled and directionless and, even at the end of the game, it's not clear why Chopin was resurrected, who he's "saving" music from, or if he really succeeded.

Nevertheless, Resurrection is a bold product, unafraid to be campy, kitschy, and surreal, and presented as a labor of love from a team full of ideas. This game is larger than the sum of its parts and everyone I've showed it to has enjoyed basking in the art and music and in the fact that Frederic Chopin uses his second chance at life to smoke dope on the beach and learn the keytar.

TouchArcade Rating

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michał-Bednarski/100001412223939 Michał Bednarski

    Thank you for reviewing our game. We are constantly working on improving it so your critique is very valuable.
    In our next update we will add a multiplayer mode and some fresh content 🙂

    I have to kind of disagree about the difficulty level. Many people on the TA forums complained that the game is way too hard. That missing few notes on the Chopin difficulty level equals loosing. And that even normal difficulty is way too hard to beat.
    That's why we included a "Too Easy" difficulty level in our latest update.

    Thank you very much.

  • Lee West

    So you cannot fail on Chopin-difficulty? And you don´t get why he was resurrected? Are you kidding me?

    I never rage about a review, but this one needs a reality check.

    While 3 stars apparantly is above average (though most TA-stuff gets this as minimum), this game deserves much more praise in my opinion. Anyways you covered most of the stuff in your review, but it seems like you played it on normal without actually listening to the story.

    • Joseph Leray

      Of course I played on normal -- it's the normal difficulty. It's how most people will approach this game, and I didn't have any problem completing it. I didn't fail any songs on my first playthrough, and didn't fail the three or four I tried on Chopin, either. I'm actually really surprised that most people are struggling.

      And, no, I don't get why he was resurrected. The game's entire premise is that corporatized music is bad, and Chopin needs to save it -- which he does by destroying a bunch of independent musicians? Even in the context of a crazy, cartoon-like story, that doesn't make sense.

      In the end, the big record exec confronts Chopin and defeats him. Chopin's response is to turn himself into a rockstar, put on some bejazzled leather pants, and teach himself to play modern rock music -- the very type of thing he's been Piano Hero-ing against the whole game. It's just not internally consistent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rasec-Noir/100000205160088 Rasec Noir

    Despise the medium score from what i read and see this game intrigues me and now i'm curious about it. Guess i'll check the lite version and the i'll decide if i buy it.

  • http://twitter.com/microtonal_ frank gooden

    I prefer Debussy

  • Peter Bjerre Rosa

    I was blown away by this game! I'm a classical pianist, and as such I completed all the songs with no difficulties on the hardest level. However, I had an awesome and unparalleled experience along the way! Usuallly I despise modern interpretations of the classics, but this time it somehow matched the setting (traveling around the globe) perfectly, and the paraphrasing added a bit of unpredictability to the game. Wow!

Frederic - Resurrection of Music Complete Reviewed by Joseph Leray on . Rating: 3