The Waifu Is Not Enough
HIGH Perfectly chaining a song I actually like.
LOW A playable tween character with underboob. Really?
WTF A progression system more puzzling than the levels themselves.
Muse Dash is a solid rhythm title about three heroines fighting goofy monsters, but sadly, it only offers J-pop at its J-poppiest. There’s a deep variety in Japan’s music scene brimming with material that could have been tapped, but the devs have a very specific audience in mind. I was able to find a handful of satisfying rock, metal, and electronic tunes (Destr0yer being my personal favorite) but the overwhelming number of tracks are cutesy songs.
Putting aside musical tastes, Muse Dash only requires two inputs at any given time, and the controls are incredibly intuitive.
Players run headfirst at two streams of enemies forming each song’s beats. A single tap on F or J (or LMB & RMB) destroys regular enemies, with bigger grunts requiring players to furiously mash both buttons to destroy them. This mashathon also applies to facing each song’s “boss”, though using that term feels generous. At most, the bosses change the aesthetic of the incoming beats — instead of an angry monster, players have to smash bullets.
Between using two keyboard keys (which are fully rebindable) or mouse, I found mouse inputs to be most responsive, and I scored better than on keyboard. A standard controller seemed the least responsive, in my experience. No matter how players choose to play, though, they’re met with a graceful learning curve in comparison to most rhythm games.
The difficulty balancing is superb, though I often found the harder songs were ironically easier to follow as they tended to go beat by beat, rather than offering awkward pauses in enemy waves. Also, the combo meter only breaks if players take a hit — missing an enemy isn’t penalized, which is a nice change from the norm.
While the gameplay is solid enough, the progression system in Muse Dash makes absolutely no sense. It’s like the devs couldn’t decide between lootboxes or standard unlocks, so they split the difference. Experience gained by completing songs goes to leveling up, and leveling up grants new songs. However, players must also earn materials (awarded at random) to unlock costumes for the three heroines, and also for elfin pets that provide additional buffs.
So, back to the style of Muse Dash. Essentially, the peak otaku content here will be the deciding factor as to whether a player will love it or not. Apart from the heavy emphasis on J-pop, expect to fight cutesy enemies while one of the leads (who looks like she’s fourteen, mind you) wears lingerie. Not all the costumes are skimpy, but most of them are Dead or Alive-style waifu cheesecake.
When Muse Dash works well, I felt the same sort of accomplishment as I might when nailing a fighting game combo. However, I don’t fall into the target demographic and the grind-heavy progression turned things more tedious than necessary. There’s a solid base of something great here, but it would be an easier recommendation if it offered some content for those outside its niche.
Disclosures: This game is developed by PeroPeroGames and published by X.D. Network Inc. It is currently available on PC, Switch, and iOS. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PC. Approximately 3.5 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes. The fantasy violence is incredibly cartoonish and kid-friendly fare, but the “suggestive themes” entail jostling anime breasts, as well as playboy bunny and french maid lingerie costumes, among others. There’s also a direct reference to R18+ manga in the initial loading screen, with the character reading it and grinning lasciviously.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: Enemies display early enough that those who have issues hearing should be able to play fine. There are subtitles for the characters, but none for the songs. There are audio cues, but they are accompanied by visual animations.
Remappable Controls: Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls and allows for multiple keys to be bound for a single input. Controllers are supported.
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