Symphony preview - fight for your music

Ask any anybody with a passion for old-school gameplay and they’ll agree, music and top-down shooters were meant for each other. Symphony is a game that takes that idea literally, combining fast-paced shoot-em up action with any track from your music library. Finally, a way to combine your all-Rush mix tape with your copy of Space Invaders (bottle of Shasta not included).

Symphony’s neon aesthetic may remind you of other shooters in the genre, but the way it integrates music of your choosing makes it stand out in the gameplay department. Enemy ships aren’t just gunning for you, they’re attacking your music. An equalizer bounces in the background, when enemies approach it, they steal pieces of your music until the equalizer lies flat. Eliminating enemies leaves little musical notes for you to collect, but you need to be swift, and that’s where the game’s slick and simple control scheme really shines.

Enemy waves swoop in at the rhythm of the track, so if you want to collect the items left by fallen foes, you’ll need to be nimble and get a sense of the beat. Symphony is controlled entirely with the mouse, and your ship will move as fast as your hand can fly along the mouse pad. Your standard blasters and machine guns are controlled by left and right click; you can even choose which guns each side of the mouse controls, something we really enjoyed. In fact, the level customization and control Symphony gave us over our ship was our favorite part of the game.

Your ship has four weapon slots that you outfit individually. You can even tweak their firing angle, or have them face the reverse to cover your rear! Best of all, most weapons let you select from a few different firing mechanisms. Manual control lets you fire with either the left or right mouse button, Auto-Fire shoots at unending intervals, but our favorite was Music-Based, which makes weapons like Subwoofer fire at the rhythm of the song. It turns bass-heavy hip-hop or a face-melting guitar solo into a regular firing squad.

All in all, Symphony’s integration of music is a unique gimmick, and one that makes perfect sense. Nothing goes together better than adrenaline-pumping gameplay and a fast-paced soundtrack. However, we were most impressed with the clever firing mechanisms and fully customizable ship loadout. Whether or not they have a passion for music, shoot ‘em up fans will love the level of precise control Symphony gives you over your arsenal and ship. This high-octane indie hits PC August 6, check the new trailer.

Alex Roth