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Humble Bundle: PC and Android 10 Review

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Symphony Review:

Symphony is a game I have owned for some time on PC, but this is the first time I have been exposed to it on Android. It has the ability to scan your music library and then construct levels based on the music you choose to play. The gameplay is somewhat arcade-y as you move a ship around to destroy and avoid enemy ships, all to your favorite music.

When I first got it on PC I noticed several issues with it that eventually led to me no longer playing it. Mostly these issues came from its curious playfield design. You appear to be flying your ship over a straight track, with enemies coming in from the top and sides, and you observe this from an angle above and behind your ship. This angle effectively limits the actual area you can play in, and can make it hard to see some enemies coming. While that is something you can get used to, the fact that you cannot turn your ship while enemies can come in from the sides, leaving you no safe area, is something much harder to adapt to.

Though it does not happen early in the game, eventually you will find that enemies will turn into the playfield, directly into you. You cannot pull back to avoid being hit, and the strategy of hugging the wall to eliminate enemies before they can threaten you becomes an easy way to die. If you were able to turn the ship, this would be less an issue, of even if the enemies could be destroyed before entering the playfield would reduce the cheap deaths.

You are able to turn the weapons on your ship, so you can do damage to ships other than those directly in front of you. However, as even the smallest enemies still take multiple hits, and are fast, reducing your ability to focus damage does not really seem like the best idea. Upgrading your weapons can help, but because of how the resources to upgrade them are awarded, collecting enough to make a meaningful difference can be quite laborious.

 

One thing that does help is that you have unlimited lives, with the punishment for death being a loss of points. Even taking damage is mildly forgiving, as sections (and weapons) of your ship will be destroyed, but collecting pickups restores them. There is the catch that the center section of your ship constitutes a critical hit zone, so if one shot gets to it, you die immediately. The enemies have no critical hit zone.

Going back a bit, the issues I brought up about the playfield's design somehow did not feel present with the Android version, even though the screenshots show that they are identical. Perhaps the fact that you hold smartphones in your hand makes the angle more comfortable than when it is on a vertical monitor, perpendicular to your eyes. I have not played enough on the Android version to experience the issues with enemies coming in from the side though, to see if that is any less frustrating.

 

PC on the left and Android on the right

 

The controls on the Android version work fairly well, with essentially the entire screen acting as a virtual joystick. Just put your finger down and move it in the direction you want the ship to go. It is as simple as that in the game. In the menus though, for some reason a cursor is shown. Despite that, you do not have any of the mouse-over behaviors. Well one mouse-over behavior, but it is an important one. In the Ship Edit window, where you can change out weapons and set the angle they fire at, on the PC you are easily able to set them to fire with the left mouse button, the right mouse button, or to just fire all of the time. Naturally you do not have LMB and RMB on a touchscreen, but the auto-fire option is missing or obfuscated, which is frustrating, as you stop firing every time you pick up your finger to reposition it.

Does Symphony make the bundle worth purchasing? Not in my opinion. It just has a number of issues that largely seem to come out the longer you play. You can try it if you get the bundle, but I doubt it will stand out to you much, except for some of its odd design decisions.




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