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‘Dynamix’ Review – Briefly Brilliant

TouchArcade Rating:

This game almost completely slipped under my radar. It released last week to virtually no hype or buzz at all. I downloaded it along with a bunch of other weekly releases and nearly forgot about it entirely. Man am I glad that I decided to boot it up while cleaning my phone’s storage instead of deleting it outright. Dynamix(Free) from C4Cat is one of the most interesting and unique, if ultimately flawed, music games in recent memory.

Dynamix 1

Guys. Gals. I love music games. I’ve been playing DDR my whole life. I’m that one friend most people have who is way too good at DDR for their size/weight. Guitar Hero, Elite Beat Agents, Stepmania and OSU on the PC, and even weird offshoots like DJ Hero; I’ve played them all. So when a music game comes along and does something genuinely different or interesting, I sit up and pay attention. Dynamix does just that with a crazy input system. Instead of just spawning notes from the top of the screen and scrolling them down, they’ll also spawn in the center, and move to the left or right. 3 out of the 4 borders of your screen are this games play area.

The lower level difficulty of Basic is more like your standard difficulty in other games. At least, based on appearance and the amount of notes. But that’s because you also have a generous area within which a ‘perfect’ hit can be registered. And believe me, this is a necessary, conscious design choice. It’s just too chaotic not to be a little bit kind. Songs on Normal difficulty start to show some bite, and the Hard level songs are just plain crazy. Luckily, you can’t fail out of a song. This is nice, because I feel like I need an extra brain to keep track of everything on most every Hard song. The idea is to get the highest score possible, with a perfect run resulting in a million points, much like Cytus($1.99).

The ranking system is a bit weird. A perfect score nets you an Omega, followed by Psi and Chi, before you start getting S ranks at 950k or so, and so on. The numbering is hard to pin down. 700k is a B, 500k is a D. I am so confused. Other weird, random, unconventional design choice: The standard speed of notes is a 0.8. You can lower this to a minimum of 0.2, or raise it to a max of 1.8. Much like other games, too slow and the screen becomes covered with notes, which is troublesome when they are spawning from the center and moving in three different direction. and 1.8 is just too fast for a plebian like me. Most of these weird design choices probably stem from the game’s foreign, eastern developer. Dynamix  has been in other markets and on Android as well. It’s version 2.2 that is finally getting an iOS release. The translated text is mostly fine. Just a few awkward parts.

Dynamix 2

The gameplay is super fun. I loved it, and I love most of the music choices, which often sound like the illegitimate love child of both Cytus and Deemo($1.99), 2 of my favorite music games on mobile. You’ve got your standard notes, notes that you need to hold, and also sliding scale note chains that you need to follow. I played this game on my iPad and my iPhone, and make sure you pick iPhone if you can. The background drawings and animations won’t be as big and fun, but your hands will get seriously tired and tangled moving around the iPad screen. Unless you put it down and play it like a piano, I guess. Here’s where I stop praising the game.

This game, while free, really desperately wants your money. This is natural, but the implementation of things makes me a sad camper. You get 15 or so free songs, and can rank up to rank 22. You get experience towards your rank with every song. You get 2 of those free songs by sharing the app on
Facebook or Twitter. Here’s my first major gripe. This feature didn’t work. It took me to the normal Facebook and Twitter permissions screens, but failed each time. Here’s another flaw. You need to rank up to unlock new songs, which is fine in theory, but it gets kind of crazy. At first you unlock new songs at 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, but eventually get to gaps like 50, 56, 67, 78. And you do not earn experience very quickly in this game.

You can up the total of songs to 25 by unlocking premium mode, and you can also purchase up to 4 song packs through IAP. The 4 song packs have 4 songs each, and are 4 dollars each. They do let you sample each song, at least. Premium mode is also unlocked through IAP. Kind of. They have a weird Microsoft Points style system where you need Bits to buy certain things. As far as I can tell you don’t get any Bits through gameplay. Premium mode also unlocks effectors for songs, like bleed, narrow notes, mirror mode, etc. It removes the rank limit of 22 and ups it to 100, and removes the obtrusive ads that play every 3 or 4 songs. It also says that it unlocks fast loading. So I guess the game intentionally loads slower for free users? That’s kind of lame.

You can also buy a 2x experience boost using Bits, and something currently blacked out called Character. This option will probably come in a future update along with ‘Event’ mode. So it will cost you about six dollars to unlock the full game, which is no big deal to me, but the implementation is so clunky. Even with premium mode, you still have to grind to rank up and unlock songs. But the gameplay is really neat. For the first hour or so of play, I was having such a massively good time. If you’re the hardcore music and rhythm gamer that likes to master songs on lower difficulties before mastering them again on higher difficulties, you can easily enjoy this game for a few more hours in free mode.

If you’re on an older device, you can turn off background animations and hit effects for better performance. There is something called Extra mode which you unlock at rank 20, but I haven’t reached it yet. Jut to round out features, you can calibrate the timing of hits, and you can re-watch the unskippable intro tutorial video. It’s unskippable the second time too. The way they handled premium IAP left a sour taste in my mouth and made me grumpy, but speaking objectively, this is absolutely worth downloading for that initial, brief, blissful, free honeymoon phase.

  • Dynamix

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