Pulse: Volume One

May 12, 2011

Sometimes, all you need to know about a game can be summed up in one sentence. Most games are convoluted enough and have so many elements that it’s hard to sum them up in that way, but occasionally you hit a game with such a simple-to-understand idea that you could even fit it into a tweet if you wanted to. Pulse is one of those games.

Pulse is Auditorium developer Cipher Prime’s take on Elite Beat Agents-style rhythm gameplay.

That’s it, and to us, that’s all you really need to say to get us to buy it.  That said, you’re not us, so we’ll do our best. This $5 iPad app feels like Auditorium when you launch it, which makes sense, and it does nothing to shake that feel. It’s okay, after all, it’s a cool feel, and it looks so smooth without needing to spend too much time and effort on production values. 

Here’s how the rhythm works. A circle gets larger from the center of the screen, and when the outline overlaps with dots on these rings, you tap them. Some songs have four rings and some have six, depending on the time signature, and dots can even appear off the rings between beats. Sometimes the dots move around, sometimes the dots line up and sometimes you need to hit two dots at once. The dots appear as the circle passes by the previous time, so the difficulty comes from the increased pace of the later songs.

The music itself is rather atmospheric, and it’s all made by members of the Cipher Prime team. There won’t be anything you know here, but the advantage is that each is tailored to the game’s feel.

There’s not an overflowing wealth of content in the $5 app, but what’s here is well fleshed-out. Each of the eight songs keeps track of the highest percentage score. (No matter your performance, you don’t fail songs, so even on the higher levels, it’s interesting to improve from, say, 42 to 47 percent.) For those who seek more, we hope Cipher Prime implements Game Center leaderboards or something.

Pulse, as a game, is an aural experience, and the design is perfect for the iPad as a platform. If you have the device, this is the kind of thing you bought it for. 

Pros: Slick presentation, trance-inducing soundtrack

Cons: A bit shallow, content-wise


Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.