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Melody’s Escape

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By Bobfish05-03-2014
StuntmanLT (editor)
Melody’s Escape

The Defence

Developer:
Icetesy SPRL
Publisher:
Icetesy SPRL
Genre:
Indie, Platformer
Release Date:
TBA

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.6 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce 8800
AMD Radeon HD 4830
RAM:
2 GB
HDD:
1 GB
DirectX:
9.0c

Let’s start out by saying that rhythm games are so far out of my forte it’s not even funny. To the extent, in fact, that I generally avoid them like the plague. However, it has to be said, Melody’s Escape caught my eye. Something about it was...different.

That’s the best way to describe it. Different. Unique even.

Initially that was simply enough to make it stand out enough to come across my desk. Something which rapidly changed to a very good thing, as it quickly demonstrated that it was truly something new for the genre.

The very basic gameplay is not all that changed from the norm. Compass point button presses comprise the meat and two veg of the experience, with timing, of course, being key to successful completion. Even the fact that it uses tracks from your own PC to generate levels is hardly a new idea. But the way it presents itself, visually, is what really makes it stand out.

Rather than being a traditional, isometric-ish flow along a track of musical notes and obstacles, we see our erstwhile protagonist, the titular Melody, from a 2D sidescrolling perspective.  She starts out at a slow saunter as she adjusts her headphones, so she can hear the music that will determine her route to freedom. Then the visuals move on to a variety of landscapes as she makes her way to the finish line, the climax, if you will. Along her way she will run, jump, slide, duck and even fly through the air, all the while guided by the quick (or sometimes not so quick), responses of the player. Proving that simplicity really is king, there is no deviation from this refreshingly solid approach. Even the extended notes are nothing more than holding a button, up for example, rather than pressing it at the correct time.

No, don't leave me! I had so much to live for.

No, don't leave me! I had so much to live for.

Even on the highest difficulty setting, the only change comes in the form of requiring two button presses simultaneously. Such as A and the left cursor key (by default) for the more advanced notes. The particulars of which keystrokes you make are decided, of course, by the flow of the music and however you choose to have your control scheme set up. The game already features full custom key bindings, so you could set the Enter key and Home as up, if you really wanted to.

At present, though Melody is a very barebones experience, everything needed to be a complete game is already in place. Controls are responsive and rarely, if ever, fall victim to the bane of other titles in the genre. Timing is paramount, but also reliable. It was few and far between when it felt that a keystroke had not registered as it was supposed to, and even on those occasions where it did, it was left open to debate whether I had been stiffed by the game not being precise enough, or that I simply was not timely enough to hit the note in question.

As things currently stand, Melody’s Escape is a solid, engaging and highly entertaining new entry in the rhythm genre. Having spent a little time speaking with the developer, we already know that a great deal of new content will be available a time of launch. Full workshop support will be implemented, which will allow user generated styles for Melody herself. Such as new skins and hair styles. A feature which is already present in the game, though with very few options at time of writing.

There will also be a playlist mode. Which, shockingly, will allow you to stack up tracks to play in sequence, rather than the current method of loading each one individually. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing it that way. It could even be seen as a strength, as it allows a quick game to be squeezed in when you have a spare five minutes. Or three, or seven, or however long the track you choose to play is, but the option is one that would certainly be of benefit.

...when you make it to your better tomorrow.

...when you make it to your better tomorrow.

Graphically, the game is striking. Animations are impressively fluid, and the vibrant, almost psychedelic colour scheme, which changes based on tempo, is pleasing on the eye. Also oddly soothing. It allows everything to flow in a way that makes the playing experience feel much more organic and engaging. Sound design is actually completely absent. A potentially controversial choice, it works well in this case. Allowing the music chosen for each escape attempt to take the forefront, with no little pings or bleeps for successful/unsuccessful notes to distract the player.

All in all, Melody’s Escape is a slick, tonally perfect example of consistent design. Already standing firm as a complete experience in its own right. With a development team that is not only open to, but actively encouraging player input, there is a massive potential for greater things to come. It will be fascinating to see which new features the Workshop will bring. Though it’s also a little concerning, because you just know someone is going to mod Melody to look like Cthulhu eating a taco, or something equally terrifying.

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