Cytus α is finally on the Nintendo Switch and is prepared to give us one of the best beat rhythm experiences yet for the handheld device, but the question is, can the 7-year-old title deliver that promise with over 200 songs to enjoy? Let’s find out in our review for Cytus α from Rayark.
+Absolutely some of the best audio a Nintendo Switch has to offer
+A visual delight for those wanting some beautiful art to play a beat rhythm game on
+A story that actually doesn’t let one down for the type of game Cytus α is
-Supports the Switch’s tablet, handheld, and docked modes rather well
-Dead multiplayer makes it hard to have online replayability
-For docked mode, headphones will be a problem
For nearly two years, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with mobile game Cytus from Rayark, an indie team based out of Taiwan. Since then, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time while on the go, keeping up with a game I’d always wanted to see land on Nintendo 3DS or PlayStation 4 via PlayStation Move and Xbox One via Kinect. However, it did get a soft release on the PlayStation Vita, but well, for many, it went well under the radar.
However, neither of those consoles would land a chance to bring Cytus to life. Rather, it was the Nintendo Switch that the game would call it home. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of reason to ask why a game originally released in 2012 would even be one to consider enjoying or even purchasing at full price on a Nintendo Switch. Well, first up, Rayark isn’t holding back their punches, they’ve already delivered two rather well-rounded titles such as VOEZ and Deemo since the Nintendo Switch’s launch.
Additionally, the team has also made sure that it functions just as you would expect on a Nintendo Switch, but also an entirely expanded upon title including new tracks, improved visuals, and even competitive play. But, now, we gotta talk and in-depth about what Cytus has to offer.
Cytus is a six-year-old game and it packs a massive punch and there’s plenty of reason why
Since 2012, Cytus has been expanded upon featuring a wide array of songs spanning across various genres of music including various genres of the EDM umbrella, pop, dance, and even… Well, almost everything really. It’s quite an imaginative title, one that’s fun, one that brings plenty of challenge with it.
The seemingly overwhelming number of tracks isn’t introduced to you all at once, but rather, over the course of your time with the game through its single-player story mode. If you’re wondering what the story actually is, well, you’ll have to play the core campaign to even see what is going on through the unlocking of data entries. The data entries will slowly piece together the entire story; accented by beautifully designed pieces of art, alongside a story that… Well… Makes the robots you are seeing feel a lot more human than yourself.
These pieces of art also help accentuate the songs they correspond with, bringing the entire experience full circle just as one would hope. The music is all the more important thanks to this. If you are wondering, yes, this is a definitive edition, which means that there are a lot more features than one might expect. Namely, new songs, and the addition of both a story and multiplayer modes.
They’ve welcomed additions that I have no complaints of having experienced at this time. Just don’t expect to hammer through all of the content in just a day or two. It’ll take you quite a bit longer than that. There’s also a nice little nudge towards DJMAX due to the inclusion of DJMAX tracks as a side-story chapter. It’s fun and it actually has a lot to offer.
Let’s talk controls. After all, this is a tablet game, which was ported to console.
Now, when I first heard this game actually landed on the Vita well before the Switch, I was floored at one such idea. The game can be fast, very fast, and to the point that I’d grown accustomed to watching Eugene Kua on YouTube absolutely smash his way through the game well over two years ago, wondering how one could even do such devastation with a controller in their hands.
Now, you might be wondering, the game supports controllers? Short answer, yes, long answer, kinda. You see, the controller is rather tricky to use thanks to how the Switch Pro Controller and Joy-Cons work. To put it short, the game translates rather well, but not as well as you would think. Buttons are not as near as responsive as playing the game with the Switch in tablet mode. It’s faster, more responsive, but this also means more wear and tear on your screen unless you have a screen protector. This also means you’ll want to lay it flat on a table or your lap.
If you can master the Joy-Con controls, more power to you, but it’s hard and nearly impossible to do, even for this Cytus veteran. Oddly enough, it would have made a solid game that required the use of the Joy-Con’s motion sensors. Just think of the game as digital whack-a-mole and your hand is the hammer.
You’ll tap, smack, and even slide your fingers about in order to keep up with the rhythm of the game. It’s satisfying to say the least, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t as hard as you can experience. Difficulties range from 1-9, the higher the number, the harder it is and some songs will require you not to just memorize the track, but its rhythm. The faster you do this, the better off you are.
Now for online play
When it comes to an online matchmaking feature, I’ve had plenty of reason to stick around outside of starting the game over and working my way to the 100% completion of the game. It’s hard to do it and you will need to earn the million medal master award. Trust me when I say this: Online play will help. If you face down against another player, you will have a chance to rank up against another player, seeing how well you do versus how well they do themselves.
Unfortunately, our time with it online was a bit trying from time to time. It seems that the player base on Switch is pretty slim and the few that do play it, are beat rhythm masters who will easily chase you out of town if you step up on their turf. Player base problems aside, the game runs as smooth as you hope and it’s actually rather fun. We saw very little in terms of connection lag and when we did, it was momentarily.
Even then, it’s fun, but it’s not worth considering the saving grace for the game if you get bored with what it has to offer.
How good is the audio?
Surprisingly enough, the game tells you right away that you’ll best experience the game with a pair of headphones for the best experience. So without question, I wandered over two several of my headsets I’ve reviewed in the past, opting for my Razer Kraken Pro V2’s I reviewed just last year and heading over to my Switch.
At first, Cytus α almost seems like it’ll be a quiet title until you actually get started. The songs are crisp, clean, and hearing your button presses even more-so as it indicates when and why you missed the node that you did. Let me make this clear: The audio is superb and is truly best experienced with the volume as loud as you can tolerate.
It’s an astonishing experience for a game of this type and it actually helps quite a lot with the ability to focus on what’s going on. That being said, I did find that the game was a lot more enjoyable when I was leaning back with the Joy-Con’s hooked up to the Joy-Con adapter, allowing it to be a full-fledged controller and using a wireless set of headphones.
Unfortunately, this mostly means, if you are using 3.5mm headphones, you’re stuck with playing the game in handheld mode as there is little room for wireless headphones on the Switch unless you dole out some cash for a wireless headset that comes with a dongle, which isn’t really a thing in 2019, which sucks. However, the team behind Cytus α can’t be blamed for that.
The conclusion – Let’s tap the night away
One of the things I’ll probably have to tell you and bring into my conclusion is that I absolutely love Cytus α. I loved the original release on my Android tablet and now my Samsung S10+. Surprisingly enough, however, I’ve begun to wonder how long it’ll be before we’ll see Cytus II added in as a DLC or even released as a second game.
At $49.99, I’d certainly hoped that would be the case, even though our copy was provided to us for the sake of this review. However, I can’t blame Rayark for that. This isn’t just a $1.99 worth the content bundle. We’re talking over 200 songs, multiplayer, a well-rounded story, and an experience you won’t find anywhere else.
If I was going to be honest, I would say I’d still stick with Cytus α over both VOEZ and Deemo even though I enjoy the games almost as much as this, but, at the end of the day, Cytus α is an absolutely astounding package and it offers a lot more than the other two in terms of replayability and diversity in musical offerings.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Flyhigh Works
Release Date: Available Now
Putting it bluntly: Cytus α is the best damn rhythm game the Switch has to offer in 2019.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.