Many people are quick to write off iOS and Android games, which are often littered with excessive in-app purchases and shallow gameplay; however, despite the many bad apples, it is not difficult to find experiences with a remarkably golden sheen.
Cytus II is but one of those golden apples. Developed by Taiwanese studio Rayark Games, Cytus II is the company’s fourth rhythm game, and a sequel to Cytus, which launched in 2012 and has amassed millions of users in its lifetime.
Cytus II has the player tap spheres to the beat of the music—which are indicated by a metronome-like line traveling up and down the playing field—as they appear on the screen. A score is given at the end of each song, which is accrued based on notes hit precisely on-beat, slightly off-beat, completely off-beat, and those missed entirely. Extra accolades are given to players who can hit every note during a song, and players who can hit every note perfectly during a song.
To suit all types of players, the game offers three difficulty modes: Easy, Hard, and Chaos, all of which accurately describe the experience associated. To give users a better idea of what level of challenge they are in for with each track, there is a level system, from 1 to 15, with 1 being the easiest and 15 the hardest.
For example, one song, with its three difficulty options, will communicate that playing on Easy will provide a Level 2 challenge, whilst playing on Hard will provide a Level 5 challenge, and Chaos a Level 9. Such details aid the player in figuring out their limits, and warning the untrained to stay away, for fear of hand cramps.
Cytus II, along with all Rayark rythm games, can be aggressively difficult on the higher difficulties. However, the allure of achieving the impossible is much of what makes the game so fun to play.
In case fun gameplay is not enough to satisfy players, Cytus II provides an intriguing narrative, which is presented through consistent Twitter-like text updates. The sci-fi world of Cytus is one reliant on the internet, and innovative technology allows denizens of this universe to be physically present in a virtual world. Being a rhythm game, the story specifically focuses on the music industry, from pop idols to bedroom producers, and the many concerts they hold in the realm of cyber-reality.
This may not sound like a much of a story, but surprisingly enough, the world is quite intriguing, and the interactions between the musicians and their fans was always enjoyable. The instant-messenger storytelling also proved to be a constant source of natural, believable exposition, and hints about the state of characters and the world are given at a frequent rate.
All of Rayark’s rhythm games have attempted some semblance of a story in the past, but in this humble reviewer’s opinion, Cytus II is easily the most accomplished.
Regarding the amount of content provided with the base price of $1.99, there are 33 songs to unlock and play across three fictional musicians (all representing a certain genre of music). Each character gains experience points when the user plays a song of their’s, and leveling up unlocks chat logs that further the story, as well as extra songs to play.
This sense of progression is rewarding, though playing the same songs over and over to press on can turn into a bit of a grind. This is alleviated a bit if one pushes themself to try songs on harder difficulties. This is encouraged by the game, with XP boosts given for breaking high scores and clearing tracks on difficulties previously un-cleared.
The soundtrack is incredible, boasting contributors from around the world, including Japan, Korea, the United States, Europe, Taiwan, and more. As of this writing, there are 3 extra characters (each hosting around 10 songs of a specific genre) on sale for $9.99 each, with more bound to be released in the future, along with free updates.
The price is a bit steep compared the $1.99 price of entry, but lovers of the game will not hesitate grow more money at the screen.
As of now, the game is exclusively available for download on iOS and Android mobile devices.