Game Title: Deemo The Last Recital
Developer: Rayark Games, Rising Star Games, PM Studios
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Download: 939 MB
Availability: Retail (Asia), Digital (Europe, North America)
PSTV Support: No
The Vita hasn’t gotten too many music games since the release of Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X. Many people are still waiting to see if IA/VT Colorful eventually makes its way to the West, while others are just diving in and enjoying previously-released music games outside of Project Diva, like Superxonic Beat.
Deemo: The Last Recital is another Vita music game that people have been waiting to come West for a long time. It has actually been available in English for much longer in Asia, but a publisher has finally seen fit to bring the game to Western audiences on the Vita with all its exclusive features over its Mobile release.
Here is my review of the PS Vita music game, Deemo: The Last Recital!
Deemo revolves around a strange entity known as Deemo, whom lives in solitude, playing a piano. One day, his life is interrupted when a strange young girl falls from the sky and into his home, void of any memories. At almost the same time, a strange seed begins to sprout, growing a magical tree around his piano.
Deemo and the Little Girl then continue to explore music and allow the Tree to keep growing to slowly restore her memories, bit by bit.
The story of Deemo is interesting because it’s mostly assumed. Every so often during progression, you’ll see a scene and most of them are voiceless, just showing the scene, itself, and letting you interpret everything that’s happening. This gives it a very unique feel, not only because most music games don’t have storylines, but also the unique feel that almost makes this like a videogame version of a Silent Movie.
As you can imagine, Deemo is a rhythm game, where you tap the touchscreen in response to notes coming down the screen to simulate the player being Deemo and playing the piano for each song being used to grow the Magic Tree and restore Little Girl’s memories. There are exploration elements in here as well, but it’s a rhythm game to its core.
Main Progression in the game is a mix of exploring the different room of Deemo’s home and playing/unlocking songs like a normal music game. You begin with two different sets of songs at the piano and playing each song well will unlock new songs and new story scenes. I generally aim for 90% or above to get that song’s unlocks, regardless of the difficulty setting.
Eventually, you’re going to run out of songs to play. That’s where exploration comes in. Not all songs can be unlocked by just playing previous songs. You have to explore the different rooms of the home or “hub world”. Songs are hidden all over the place, from high up in the attic to areas underneath tables and chairs in the library room. You just tap wherever you think a song might be and you’ll get a little dialogue when you do find out to play at the piano.
Now the big problem with the game is that you don’t know that you have to go find songs in the other rooms. In fact, you don’t even know where the other rooms are. Without a guide, you might just find them by accident when you’re tapping on the touch screen. The big lack of direction can easily de-rail you by making you think you might have to just keep beating the songs on different difficulties to unlock more songs, when you couldn’t be further from the truth.
When you’re actually in a song, it’s pretty straight-forward. Every time you start a song in each play session, you get a little tutorial telling you what to do. You have all of these piano key-like notes falling towards a horizontal line on your screen. When normal notes hit the line, you tap on them to hit the note. Then there are yellow notes bundled together, which require you to slide your finger across the screen to hit those notes. It’s pretty simple and once you get the feel of it, it’s easy to get lost in that flow.
Do note that the flow being easy doesn’t make the game easy. Easy Mode is easy enough but any difficulty or speed above that is really challenging to get to. That difficulty also raises another interesting aspect of the game. Not only can you toggle the difficulty of the song, but you can toggle the speed of it, to increase the difficulty even further.
As far as time spent, there are over 100 songs to be unlocked and played across the default Story Scenario and the PS Vita-exclusive “After Story” Game Mode that is not available in the Mobile release. Given the time it’d take to play all of those songs at least once while adding exploration time, I would gauge this game as a bare minimum of 6-7 hours. Bare minimum. That’s if you know where hidden songs are and only wish to play each song a single time.
Two big things here. First of all, Deemo is not compatible with the PlayStation TV, though not without reasons. The nature of the control scheme makes the game unplayable even if they’d checked that Vita TV checkbox to make it launch-able on the micro-console.
The control scheme is very touch-friendly. In fact, Deemo: The Last Recital is only playable with touch controls. There are no button controls for menus, pausing, moving between areas, or anything of the sort. Everything is touch-oriented, just as it was in the Mobile release. So, if you like touchscreen music games, this’ll tickle your fancy. If you do not like touch-based music games, well, you’re out of luck here.
The fact alone that they didn’t add button controls isn’t really that bad, but it’s just another point with the lack of direction. You need to tap very specific parts of the screen to do simple tasks, like cycle through songs or even start songs. There is a very small portion of the screen (from my experience) that acts as the “Start Song” from Song Select and it took me quite some time to actually find it more than once.
For a simple control scheme, it’s got a pretty decent learning curve from figuring out where to touch for what.
Visually, the game is very pretty. The story scenes have a very anime-like feel to them and the entire UI look so detailed with the art style. Even the notes flying down the music score during gameplay has a very unique feel to it.
The music is also a great deviation from typical PS Vita rhythm games. A lot of the soundtrack is full of nice, calming piano tunes with some variety of genres later on but always with a piano backup melody. It is a very relaxing game to play, especially compared to the more Jpop feel of the Project Diva series.
Performance I have no problems with. The game loads quickly and never suffers from any frame drops, glitching, or crashing. The optimization is definitely there.
In conclusion, Deemo: The Last Recital is a very relaxing and calming music game. Although the lack of button controls and direction on how to unlock songs isn’t exactly giving the game tons of credit, it’s a nice deviation from the norm for both Vita music games and music games in general.