Epic Orchestra review - Classic rhythm gaming in more ways than one
| Epic Orchestra

Rhythm games are known for living and dying by their soundtrack – they must have a wide enough appeal to cover a huge fanbase, while also being interesting to play.

Not so in Epic Orchestra, where you're tasked with playing along to a selection of classical pieces which have been lovingly rearranged for a chiptune orchestra.

It's beautifully presented and enormous fun to play, and besides a few control issues, it's one of the most pleasant ways to experience classical music you can find.

Chopin down the competition

Epic Orchestra has you swiping the screen either up, down, left, or right in time with the music, trying to swipe just as the corresponding arrow passes through a box.

It's fairly generous with its timing too – so long as the arrow is somewhere within the box you'll score points, though you score more if it's all the way inside.

Hit enough of these "epic" timings and you'll build up a special meter, which when full causes your conductor to become a giant and protects you from any foul-ups you happen to make.

Mess up outside of this special bonus and you'll lose a life, as well as some members of your orchestra, though you can earn them back by filling the special meter. Lose all five lives and its game over.

It's simple to get into, but deviously difficult. Whack Epic Orchestra on Hard mode and you'll be begging for the quiet parts of songs as your finger starts to ache from all the rapid swiping you'll do.

A work of Mozart

Control-wise, swiping does make sense – it gives you that feeling of being a conductor, waving your baton around, and it works well in a real-world sense too.

It is quite strict, however. You have to lift your finger off the screen between swipes, which can lead to missed notes given if they're flying by particularly quickly.

And you can't switch to a different control scheme, like tapping the edges of the screen, which would make things easier. You just have to get good or pack up your baton.

Thankfully, the soundtrack alleviates some of these problems, being so wonderful that you won't even mind messing up from time to time.

There's a selection of recognisable tunes in here, including Canon in D and Maple Leaf Rag, and even the ones you don't know are so well-realised in the score that you'll be tempted to track down a version not made entirely with synths.

I'll be Bach

Overall, Epic Orchestra is maybe not as epic as the name would imply, but it's certainly a fantastic introduction to classical music.

It combines frantic rhythm action with beautiful, sombre music, in a juxtaposition that shouldn't work but does so wonderfully.

Get used to the occasionally finicky controls and you'll have an absolute blast conducting your pixel orchestra through some true classics, even if you're not a fan of the musical genre already.

Epic Orchestra review - Classic rhythm gaming in more ways than one

It might seem like a bizarre mix, but Epic Orchestra's classical rhythm action is an absolute delight to behold
Ric Cowley
Ric Cowley
Ric was somehow the Editor of Pocket Gamer, having started out as an intern in 2015. He hopes to take over the world the same way.