Symphonica review

Square Enix’s second iOS collaboration with rhythm-action veterans iNiS is silly and sentimental, yet sweet and heartfelt. It weaves a tale of sibling rivalry between a pair of conductors in a music-obsessed city, overcoming the odd lapse into anime cliché with the emotive force of its classical soundtrack.

As the wide-eyed Takt, you conduct your fledgling orchestra with one or two fingers, tapping, swiping, pinching and sliding as circular markers pass through a line in the time-honoured tradition. Though you can tap anywhere on the screen, there’s otherwise little room for self-expression, no way to control tempo or tone. Indeed, there are no visual indicators for shifts in pace, the game relying on knowledge of the compositions featured. However, few will be unfamiliar with the selections here.

Yet if Tchaikovsky’s waltz from The Nutcracker Suite and Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtsmusik are obvious choices, they’re still enjoyable to play along to, the developer’s mastery of timing and feedback making performances satisfying and intuitive. Each proves a good fit for the narrative beat it’s asked to strike: Holst’s Jupiter thundering in at a dramatic highpoint, with Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance proving a fittingly climactic show-stopper.

Genre enthusiasts should breeze through without suffering anything lower than an S rank, though all 20 tracks can be played at a higher difficulty level away from the story. The enthusiastic shouts that greet immaculate performances may be too generous a reception for Symphonica, but this disarmingly good-natured game is certainly worthy of appreciative applause.

7
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