Let the beat blub blub.
The expansive indie market has allowed for some truly unique games in the past few months alone, not to mention the names that have hit it big like your Minecrafts and your rip-offs of Minecrafts and such. Regardless of those and other clones or the insane library of 2D platformers, I’m happy the music gaming genre has been getting a few more worthy looks from upstart studios looking to find success either on Steam’s Greenlight Early Access platform or via dedicated homepages where players are welcome to engage with discussing mechanics, art assets, and story with the creators themselves.
That’s why Muse caught my attention. You can go directly to Musedev.net and read about the latest very early release of the game, what’s available to play, what’s coming soon, and what kind of feedback the developers are looking for. While the game costs $10 and admittedly doesn’t feature much to play, the title does represent an opportunity to get in on the sea floor and try your hand at creating a game while you play it.
Muse claims to be the first truly interactive and collaborative musical universe, but at this early stage it’s more like a fish tank. That’s okay because you get a clear distinction between what more the game needs and how the developer will continue to evolve the mechanics. Even in the alpha, Muse uses a procedural audio engine to bring forward beats and loops that tend towards low-key electronica, all made with professional-grade synthesizers. In the vibrantly lit ocean, you’ll see several different objects to interact with that eventually build your musical composition.
Wonder Muses take the shape of characters and flora that you don’t carry with you. They modify the music and change aspects of your drum beat or a synthetic loop so that the song changes, though not its overall sense of rhythm or melody. Some of them look like creatures floating in the deep while others glow to attract players visually. I only noticed one or two of these in the developer build, but more will be added as that particular mechanic is still in development.
Multiplayer will allow several different underwater musicians to collaborate on a track, while the team even hopes to bring Muse to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Steam, and other platforms like tablets. That means you’ll be able to share with an extremely large audience once the project has been fully released, but the developers likely hope to catch a few eyes to continue funding development. For example, the current build’s playable space repeats the same structure, but new music zones and further interactive pieces will be added on progressively.
The controls are relatively simple too, though developing new components for Muse, especially since it’s still in alpha, will leave less technical gamers with their heads scratching. Using the mouse, you can move between a few different locations and gain momentum by pushing the W, reverse with S, and turn sharply with A and D. Tracks you’ve collected can be switched between with Q and E while hitting R resets your song. Overall, Muse features a neat playable hook, but not much beyond a conceptual outline on where the music simulator will go.