Pulse

I got this one back in one of the Humble Bundles from forever ago. I’ve played it a little bit in the past, but since getting my new phone, I got to play it all the way through recently.

Pulse is a rhythm game where you tap dots in time with music. The dots spin around circles that take up most of the game viewport, with each circle representing a beat in the song. There are twenty-six songs in total, split into five sections that are four to six songs long.

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Essentially, it’s a kind of like a mobile Guitar Hero with electronic music.

Let’s start with the pros:

The game is simple and pleasant to look at. The colors that appear in the menus and the game board are bright, and there are decent particle effects for successful note taps that fit with the theme of the song. On top of that, the soundtrack is fantastic (albeit short), with some appearances by familiar artists such as Jim Guthrie and A_Rival.

And… that’s pretty much where the pros stop.

The gameplay, while simple, is far from satisfying. Difficulty in the songs ranges from “so easy I could take a nap” to “OMGOSH WHAT THE CRAP”. Right in the middle of the song. On top of that, some note taps required two or three fingers to successfully hit, which was difficult on my phone. The game is available for tablet devices, though, so maybe my experience would have been a little bit better on one of those?

On top of this, the game gave me no sense of satisfaction throughout my play time. All of the songs come unlocked out of the box, so you could theoretically start from the last song and work your way backwards if you want. On top of that, the game doesn’t give any penalties if you “fail” a level. Even then, the threshold for “completing” a level in this game is often so low, you most likely won’t ever fail a level. Here’s an example from my gameplay:

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The 67% is my score on the level. The 15% is the threshold for “passing” the level, though that is the only real indication that you’ve passed or failed the level. There is no “you failed!” screen, no disappointing sound effects. Nothing. Conversely, there’s also no real acknowledgement of your achievements aside from the “New Record!” notice on the ending screen for each song. The game doesn’t even acknowledge when you’ve finished every level; no “Congratulations!” screen or notice. Nothing.

Essentially, the game started off as a good idea, but never progressed beyond that. The concept could have been expanded on… a lot. So, unfortunately, I’m going to have to recommend that you don’t buy this game. I wouldn’t even recommend getting the soundtrack; the songs are as short as they are in the game, and they aren’t quite as enjoyable without the gameplay element missing. Also, the songs by Jim Guthrie, A_Rival, and the other guest artists don’t appear on the soundtrack, which is a disappointment.

Go buy Monument Valley instead.

Price: $3-$4

Platforms: Android, iOS

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