Cymatically Muffed Review

Screenshot from Cymatically Muffed
Cymatically Muffed has a campaign mode that you can play alone or with friends

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Kelsam
  • Publisher: Kelsam
  • Release Date: 4 Jun 2020
  • Time played: 3 hours

What is it

Kelsam are a wife and husband, indie development duo consisting of Kelsie and Sam (hence the name). Kelsie apparently does a lot of the artwork and level design, while Sam does most of the programming. I originally played another of Kelsam's games that was released back in 2017 called Simple Light Cycles which is a minimalist, local multiplayer version of the light cycles game from "Tron". The game was good fun and at only three Australian dollars, didn't break the bank (in fact, the game has recently gone Free-to-Play, so now everyone can enjoy the game without spending a cent).

In August 2019, Kelsam released a new game to Steam Early Access called Cymatically Muffed. Originally the game was intended to be a platformer but it was changed to a top-down shooter while still retaining the same story (although the comic intros to certain levels were apparently added late in development). After a few months in Early Access the game was released almost a year later on 4th June 2020.

So why is the game named "Cymatically Muffed" and what does it actually mean? Well, "cymatics" is apparently a "subset of modal vibrational phenomena" according to Wikipedia and in 1967, Hans Jenny (a follower of anthroposophy) claimed the existence of a subtle power based on the normal, symmetrical images made by sound waves. This was detailed in his book "Kymatic" and hence the term. "Muffed" refers to the headphones or earmuffs that your character is given as a "cyber enhancement" by one of the game's antagonists: Doctor Wolfe. The headphones apparently unleash the power of cymatics making you Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger; it also monitors your health, weapons, ammo, battery power and inventory.

The game is a top-down shooter where you've got a plethora of weapons at your disposal (apparently over 50 at the time of this review) and you can use them in a bunch of game modes including the campaign mode (either single-player or co-op), survival mode and competitive multiplayer.

The game is relatively new and as yet doesn't have a Steam rating or Metascore.

How I got it

Kelsam were kind enough to provide me a review key of this game since I reviewed their previous game, Simple Light Cycles (thanks guys!). Since I enjoyed their previous game I was keen to see what they have been up to recently which is why I decided to accept the offer and without further ado, here is the review!

Screenshot of Game Modes in Cymatically Muffed
There are a lot of game modes to pick from in Cymatically Muffed

What I like:

Pumping soundtrack

There's a lot of free music used as part of this soundtrack but Kelsam have managed to pick tracks that complements the game's tone perfectly. Sure some of it is kind of repetitive but overall, a great soundtrack. I particularly like Song7.wav by Arcidus in particular which is used as the Menus theme.

Plethora of game modes

There are so many game modes that you can play out of the box including the single player campaign, a survival co-op mode, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and even a mode similar to the Defuse maps in Counter-Strike.

Works on the Steam Link

The game has Full Controller Support and works fine on the Logitech F710. I tried playing this game on the Steam Link with my wife for some local co-op and it was good fun.

Level Editor

There is a website you can visit to create your own levels for use in the game which means the creative types amongst you will never get bored.

Steam Achievements

The game has 16 Steam Achievements you can work towards and does not have any Steam Trading Cards you can collect (at least not yet).

Only one of your friends needs to own a copy of the game

I didn't get to test Remote Play Together properly but it's a feature of Cymatically Muffed and means that whoever hosts the game is the only one that needs to own a copy. Friends don't need to own a copy of the game and can join the session through the Internet as if it were a local multiplayer game.

Support for up to 16 players multiplayer

I've never played with this many players but apparently it's possible which is a pretty neat feature.

Screenshot of comic book cutscenes from Cymatically Muffed
A cryptic cutscene that features a lot of barbed wire and trees

What I dislike:

Weird wacky plot

The single player campaign is told through a series of comic book cutscenes and since there's no text or narration during these cutscenes, it's a bit hard to make sense of the story. You go around killing lots of people, even lumberjacks and residents of suburbia, without really ever knowing why… (although maybe there's some deeper meaning I'm missing here).

Short single-player campaign

You can easily finish the single-player campaign in under 3 hours so it's not a particularly long single-player mode (but it doesn't matter, since multiplayer is where this game is at anyway).

MS Paint art style

Look, I realise preferences in art style is subjective; for example, some people (such as myself) love the nostalgia of retro pixelart while others deride the style as ugly and are unable to even seriously consider a game that uses it. Unfortunately, I can't say I'm a big fan of the art-style in Cymatically Muffed as it looks like it was quickly sketched in MS Paint and I think it could have benefitted from a more conventional art style.

Sometimes hard to aim with controllers

I actually found the game easier to play with a mouse and keyboard at least when it came to aiming. Using the twin sticks on the controller can take some getting used to if you want to use precision, long range weapons such as rifles, so you're probably better off using weapons that cause splash damage (e.g. rocket launchers) or melee weapons when using controllers.

Score – 8/10 (Recommended)

Don't be deceived by the MS Paint art style or the short single-player campaign: provided you can find friends and family to play with, this game really shines as a local multiplayer experience. The game also offers excellent replay value thanks to its many game modes and level editor.

Is the game worth $18.50 AUD?: Probably not worth it for the single-player game alone but if you've got a bunch of friends you know who would be keen on some top-down shooter multiplayer action, this game ticks a lot of the right boxes.

If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: Cymtaically Muffed Official Homepage ]