Game Reviews

Musaic Box

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| Musaic Box
Musaic Box
| Musaic Box

As a composer, I'm second only to Bach. I blow Mozart and Beethoven out of the water.

That's not me being delusional. That comes from no less an authority than the local leaderboards of Musaic Box, the novel and ingenious puzzle game from HeroCraft.

For once, it's not your reflexes or your colour-spotting skills that are on trial here. It's your spatial awareness and talent for hearing a tune.

Roll over Beethoven

The game is divided into two halves: a pretty standard hidden object game where you furiously tap the screen looking for pieces of music manuscripts, and the main puzzle element, where you put them back together.

You're presented with a grid and a variety of shapes to place on it. The shapes are divided into squares with different colours on them, which represent different instruments.

You can tap any shape to hear the bit of the tune it plays back, and you're armed with the knowledge that no two instruments can be in the same column. That's all you're given before having to piece together commonly known musical scores, from 'Auld Lang Syne' to 'Ode to Joy'.

As you progress, the grids grow larger and more weirdly shaped, the number of instruments increases, and the game will challenge you to piece a song together without the original score.

It's not a game mechanic I've ever seen before, and piecing a song together correctly and seeing the board spring to life with music is singularly satisfying.

Getting in tune

If all this sounds a little daunting, the game is actually surprisingly forgiving.

There's no time limit, and no risk of a Game Over screen to fear. The hints system is really simple, too - a quick tap of the button will darken all the pieces on the board currently in the wrong place. It's unavailable on Hard mode, but that's part of the challenge.

Musaic Box is not without its weaknesses though. I skirted over the hidden object section earlier with good reason: it's not very interesting.

It consists of tapping bits of scenery to interact, and hoping a piece of manuscript emerges. There are more complex sections, for example requiring you to assemble an LP from parts of the scenery, but it feels like an attempt to stretch the game a bit further rather than a genuinely fun and creative addition.

The reduction of the game from PC screens to Android also doesn't help. With only a couple of pixels between manuscript and scenery, missteps are common.

The sound is more disappointing, though. For a game that relies so heavily on listening to samples of music, it's a shame to find them to be of the grating midi variety.

Sound as a pound

But somehow these issues don't seem to matter the more you play. The music, which would be grating in isolation, is clear enough to pick out individual instruments, and the triumph of hearing it play back after a successful puzzle overrules any dislike of the sound itself.

It's not without its small bugbears, but overall Musaic Box is a delight. It dares to do something different with the puzzle genre, and for the most part it succeeds. If you're looking to test your ears as well as your brain, then this is the best, and possibly only, place to start.

Musaic Box

An engrossing, satisfying, and unique puzzle game that gives your sense of hearing a chance to shine