Music is something that almost everyone has some affinity toward. Some of us have even tried to create our own tunes at some point. Unfortunately, for the unskilled among us, it doesn’t go very well. Cosmic DJ is one unique new game which attempts to get everyone creating music regardless of their skillset. Although it’s only in Early Access, it might already live up to this goal.
Cosmic DJ presents itself as a game, although it could also be considered a simplistic sound sequencer. This is true whether you select story or quick play mode. What is a sequencer? In this case, it is software that allows musicians to program and queue up a series of sounds they want played. This software and hardware is often pricey and not very friendly to newbies.
One thing that this game gets right is crafting a very simple to understand interface for making music. The first mode available to players has eight 4×4 grids and players may place sound markers on any of the spaces. The horizontal span of the grids is the time at which sounds play, and vertically handles the key a note is in. The range of four keys is not very massive, but keeps things from getting too hectic. Players are also encouraged to utilize multiple instruments to string together and overarching track with bells, vocals, bass, and more.
The second mode of music generation is even easier than this and is unlocked during the tutorial. Tap mode removes the grids and simply has four big circles. Each circle represents one of the four musical keys. This allows anyone to click a mouse or keyboard to play their chosen instrument at the time they want. Of course, this is a far less precise mode of note placement unless you have really good timing. Still, it works well as a very friendly sequencer.
The reason why Cosmic DJ could be considered a game is because it scores your created tracks. Don’t worry – scoring is based purely off having a reasonable number of notes and instruments included. This honestly seems like the best choice as it would be disheartening to actually rank songs by how “good” or “bad” they are.
As of right now, the story mode is incredibly odd but also short. The storyline is like something pulled out of Adult Swim with its 80s inspired visuals and weird interspersing of real pictures against CG art. In any case, it has something to do with “THE POWER OF MUSIC” and making the world a funkier place. Hilarious tidbits of story play in between missions, and even create visuals to go with your tracks.
Once you finish that in one to two hours though you’re left to simply fuss with music creation on its own. One problem with this is that Cosmic DJ doesn’t let you select every instrument you wish to use. Instead, it lets you randomly shuffle through groups of five until you get an okay collection. Hopefully a future update will let you switch each one out independently. Perhaps they’ll even allow for more than five instruments.
The most surprising thing about this game is that it makes poorly placed awkward sounds turn into awesome tunes. Okay, maybe not completely awesome, but far better than they should be (at least in my case). Thanks to a good background soundtrack, the user-placed beats don’t sound lonely and awful. They could stand to add a few more instruments, though.
If the concept of quickly creating some music appeals to you then Cosmic DJ is already in a place to do that. It even allows for players to export their creations to MP3. Of course, the software is very simplified and won’t cater to more advanced musicians – but that’s not who it’s for. There does seem to be a lack of features to make this a must-have title right now, but hopefully by launch Cosmic DJ will be a more fully featured, but still friendly, music creator.