Developed and published by Kelsam, Cymatically Muffed is a fast-paced top-down shooter with a name as confusing as its storyline. My first impression was that it had cool comic style graphics that were sharp and some techno beats in the background that accompanies the action nicely. But I didn’t know what my character was or what was going on. I did labour somewhat as I didn’t know what Cymatically meant, and muffed was I term I used when the game crashed; it turns out Cymatics is the visual study of sounds and muffed is just relating to muffs, which are warm ear coverings, such as those worn by the main character.
The story for the campaign is purely laid out in a comic strip style but it is kind of hard to decipher. You see a scientist experimenting, then some big headphones and you get the gist that something went down. Then it starts with you in a room and you are just a ball of hair. I know it’s top-down but you don’t see what your character looks like other than the hair. I had to read up online to realise it was you and your headphones that were being experimented on and that you are out to get revenge on the mad scientist.
The game controls are quite robust for a top-down dual-stick shooter. The screen is far too zoomed in for my liking by default, but there is at least an option to zoom out, though you had to keep changing the zoom every time you died or got to the next level which was a bit of a pain. At the start of the game you have to rely on melee attacks which I struggled with as the enemy was always quicker at attacking and so I would lose a lot of health against each enemy and dying a lot. The first shooting weapons you come across are tasers or tranquillizer guns which only stun the enemy and you have to follow up with melee attacks.
It was only when the guns started to appear about a third of the way into the campaign did the tables start to turn and the game got more fun for me. Don’t get me wrong earlier on you could throw any item you pick up at enemies, and there are lots of miscellaneous items you could pick up, but they just didn’t do a lot of damage and I couldn’t get used to using the thrown objects. Once you pick up your headphones in the first level you are given a battery meter with 3 slots. You find batteries strewn across the levels to charge it up and it allows you to use a special move that allows you to move and attack faster for about 5-10 seconds per charge. It is a must when fighting boss battles or when in tough spots where there are lots of enemies.
There was one collectable I wish the game explained a little clearer – ammo pickups. This looks like a small green box and I thought it was just another throwing projectile, but it turns out it refills the ammo for your gun or both guns if you have two equipped. This would have been handy to know as I must have gone about six or so levels without twigging and just get ditching and swapping guns. Once I knew about the ammo refill I was almost unstoppable as I had 2 decent guns to breeze through many of the levels.
The campaign mode is quite lightweight and can be completed in around two sittings. But the good thing about it is the campaign can be played with up to 4 players locally which is as chaotic as it is fun. It’s clear that Kelsam knew where the most joy could be got out of a game like this and that is multiplayer. They have a good variety of battle modes and a survival mode to keep the game interesting. You have the normal most kill wins, the last man standing, capture the flag, cops and bombers and even a hockey based game called Puc. You can play with the settings to lock the zoom so everyone is stuck with a short view span, infinite ammo, random weapons and more. The only downside is all the multiplayer options is local only which is a shame. There is an option to change the theme as well to match certain popular holidays like Halloween and Christmas but all it does is change your characters ball of hair into a skull mask or a Christmas hat.
Cymatically Muffed is a decent top-down shooter. The campaign is as confusing as the name of the game but that doesn’t detract too much from the enjoyment. There could have been some more explanation of the items in the game with a brief tutorial but most of it can be picked up whilst playing. I would have liked the campaign to be a bit longer but I did enjoy my playthrough. I didn’t get the chance to fully experiment with the battle option as it’s local only and we are still kind of locked down but it does look like it could be fun to play with friends.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.