Symphony is a Galaga-style shooter in which you’re stuck in a certain range of movement and enemies are flying in from the side of the screen, occasionally shooting at you. Throughout the course of a song, you collect “Inspiration,” which are the little music notes dropped by enemy ships. They serve as currency for in-game items, as well as repairing your ship during a song after it gets damaged. Each song, depending on its length, has a certain score range. The higher the difficulty, the higher the score quota but the bigger the reward. Initially, you’ll only have two difficulty levels available for play, but you’ll earn more completing tasks in-game.
The game is powered through your music. If you have a ton of it lying around on your hard drive, you could put it to good use and let it serve to generate the enemies. Basically, the more intense your music (as shown on the equalizer dominantly portrayed in the background), the faster your enemies will zoom in on the battlefield. Luckily for this game, you have unlimited lives, but the more your ship gets destroyed, the more Inspiration you lose.
If you don’t have a ton of music lying around your hard drive, the game comes pre-packed with 21 different songs from 10 indie artists, with different ranges on how the music controls the field. The interesting part about every song in the game is that each comes with its own individual item unlock to upgrade your ship, such as a subwoofer that shoots depending on the song’s bass line, or a double cannon with two bullets shooting forward and two shooting behind your ship to cover more ground. The unlocks are all random, so one playthrough with the game will never unlock the same item.
The game also attempts to throw in a small storyline where all your music has been infected by a demonic entity that tries to harvest all souls of the music composers and use it against you in battle. The story itself plays a tiny role within the game itself, but the boss battles help unlock pieces of the “Symphony of Souls”. When you complete a page, the harder difficulties of the game available.
One of the unfortunate parts of Symphony is that when your enemy shoots something at you, it’s hard to see. Because the game’s environment changes color based on the music intensity, it gets hard to see a red bullet over a red background. Another setback would be that not all music files are consistently supported. I found that a couple of the .m4a files I had weren’t able to be read, but the game had no problem identifying .ogg files.
For the most part, Symphony is an addictive shooter that’s simple enough to pick up, and sports a decent amount of content and unlocks to keep you busy. While it could’ve done more to separate itself from the Geometry Wars look, it doesn’t make it any less of a fun game to play.
This game was provided for review by GOG.com.
Pros: Good visuals, simple gameplay, packaged music is pretty good as well
Cons: Bullets are hard to see from enemy fire, so death happens more often than it should