Coming from a programming duo that go by the name of Kelsam, Cymatically Muffed is a new entry into the burgeoning party game/co-op/PvP genre. While the story makes no sense, the action on offer here is looking to carry us into gaming nirvana. Hold on to your muffs, we’re going in.
Just to clarify, Muffs are the latest invention from a scientist by the name of Dr Wolfe, which can give the wearer a cybernetic enhancement. Using the power of Cymatics (nope, me neither) these headphones are not only suitably massive, but they can apparently make you stronger, faster and smarter! With the ability to monitor your health, inventory and more, they can turn you into a killing machine. This is pretty handy, as in Cymatically Muffed, that’s pretty much all you do!
There are three modes to play in Cymatically Muffed. There is a campaign mode for between one and four players, played in a drop-in, drop-out style. There is also a PvP Battle mode, with various modes and maps to explore, and finally there is a Survival mode, which to all intents and purposes is a version of Gears’ Horde Mode, with waves of baddies to take out.
Campaign mode is complete nonsense to be honest, with a narrative that is told via the medium of comic panels. A selling point on the game’s Steam page is that “Reading is not required”… well, I wish it was, as the story is hard to follow. There seems to have been an experiment carried out on us by Dr Wolfe, and when we get our hands on the headphones or “Muffs”, it all kicks off. What follows is a top-down adventure, where the only thing we can see of our character, and indeed all we can see of the enemies, are the top of the heads. That and the weapon that we happen to be carrying at the time. With exploration to take in, enemies to find and kill, key cards to find and boss fights to take on, there’s no shortage of action.
The Battle mode is where you can join up to seven compadres to have a massive ruck. Indeed, one of the achievements in the game is tied to joining a party of eight, and I’m sure we all have a collection of seven other controllers sitting around… don’t we? No? Anyway, there are a selection of modes to go at, ranging from Deathmatch, in solo and team flavours, a Capture the Flag mode, a version of what appears to be Air Hockey called Puc, and finally a Cops and Bombers mode, where the objective is to either detonate a bomb or stop the rascals from doing so. The action on offer here, just like the campaign mode, is very fast and smooth, and the actual combat is fast and indeed furious.
Playing a co-op style, the Survival mode makes you do exactly what it says on the tin; face waves of enemies, take them out, and keep yourself alive. Waves of enemies attack you, on one of a few maps whose layouts determine how hard the battles will be. The Sitting Room, for instance, is an easy map as it features long straight sight-lines that make killing the enemies a piece of cake, while harder levels have more cover.
Graphically, Cymatically Muffed, to be brutally honest, looks like something that was knocked up in MS Paint. The graphics are basic, and in the heat of combat it is a sea of hats, hair and helmets surrounding you. Yet the action never slows down, and it all moves at a good pace. With a pumping soundtrack to keep things moving, things kick up a gear when you become “Muffed”, which uses a section of the headphones battery, but makes you move faster and hit harder. There are a bunch of weapons to choose from, along with health packs and batteries to pick up, ensuring you are able to stay alive that little bit longer.
The weapons are split between various categories, from melee attacks right up to rocket launchers, via guns, grenades, swords, batons and – my personal favourite – explosive drones that you can fly through a level, opening doors as you go, until you reach your target and terminate it with extreme prejudice.
So, a conclusion then and honestly Cymatically Muffed looks rubbish, there’s no two ways about it. But it plays so much better than it looks. It’s fast, smooth and interesting, and is like a twin-stick shooter for the modern age. I would even go so far as to mention it in the same breath as Smash TV from back in the day, it is that much fun to play. If you have lots of friends and controllers, you could do a lot worse than to give this a try.
Liven up the party with Cymatically Muffed on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One