A Musical Story is exactly what the title suggests. This debut release from French indie dev Glee-Cheese Studio depicts the journey of an upstart band on its way to perform at Pinewood. While it’s a rhythm game, things are presented with more of a visual novel flair, with individual chapters and vignettes inching you closer to your destination.
The gameplay is solid if a little simplistic. Notes populate around a looping circle and it’s up to you hit L1, R1, or both together at the appropriate time. The focus is placed entirely on the rhythm, so you won’t have to do anything too crazy like you would in say, Rock Band.
The soundtrack knows this, too, placing a much greater emphasis on grooves. A lot of the songs have easily discernible and incredibly catchy beats to them, which helps get you into the right mindset to nail a given tune. Though, as the game is intended to take place in the ‘70s, some of the drum beats do sound a little too synthetic for the era, presenting a distracting anachronism. Further, it’s disappointing that the complexity of the game doesn’t build much across its two hours, even if it does a good job of serving the story nonetheless. Yes, some of the rhythms grow more complicated as you move through the adventure, but it never gets to a point where it presents a meaningful challenge.
The story is presented virtually wordlessly, letting the music speak for the characters, both in-game and out. The story is filled with many moments of friction and strife, but has plenty of room for a lot of sweet moments, too. The music deftly adapts to this, both in the rhythms you need to mimic, and the way the artwork flashes across the screen. One of the coolest things about the visual style is that as you nail more and more sections of a song, the visuals coalesce more clearly and vibrantly, culminating in a clip show of sorts at the end of each chapter. Here, the scraggly, hand-drawn style is on full display.
While the animations themselves aren’t the most impressive thing in the world in isolation, the title’s use of contrast and colour is what really sells it. Lots of blues and purples serve as backdrops for the images, and it creates a memorable look and feel for the title.
What the game ultimately delivers is a charming, unique debut title from a studio we’re certainly interested to see more of.