August 28. I’m waiting at baggage claim at the Seattle airport, where I’ve just landed to attend PAX Prime for the eighth year in a row. I pull out my phone to see what has happened in the past five hours while I’ve been off the grid, to find out that Harmonix has announced a new game!
A twin stick shooter for the PC!
Less than two months later, A City Sleeps has arrived on Steam for PC, and Mac. In it, you play as Poe, a dream exorcist who must rescue the city of SanLo from their never-ending nightmare.
Just reading that short description, this doesn’t really sound much like a Harmonix game (or maybe it does, this is the company that released a dance game with a time traveling crime story after all), but within mere moments of picking up the controller, and starting on the first dream, you’ll get it.
As with all Harmonix titles, music plays a huge role in A City Sleeps. Everything that happens in the level, from the spawning of enemies, to movement, to your projectiles is based on the music. For example, enemies will spawn on the beat, and the speed of your projectiles will change based on the speed of the music.
It’s a design element that most of the times comes together beautifully. Occasionally you’ll wish that your gun would fire a little bit faster than the music dictates, but it does well to tie the action into the excellent soundtrack that the game includes.
While the main controls are fairly standard to the genre (left stick moves, right stick shoots in the direction it is pointed in), the link between the music, and the action is not the only unique element that A City Sleeps has going for it.
As you move through the levels, two types of idols will appear on the screen. Once an idol has appeared, you are able to assign one of three ghosts to it. Once assigned, these ghosts will help you fight off the enemies in various ways depending on the combination of the ghost type, and the idol type.
You start off with two types of ghosts available, one that provides health, and one that does damage (in both cases, either via projectile, or proximity depending on the type of idol they’re assigned to). There are four more ghosts that are unlockable as you proceed through the game, and you can take three with you into a level by assigning them prior to starting.
The type of ghost assigned to each idol can also be swapped on the fly, so if you find yourself really in need to specific help (such as needing health, a situation I found myself in a lot), you can easily switch things up at any time.
Even as someone that doesn’t generally get into these types of games too much, I found myself sucked into this really quickly after getting a hang of the systems that were in place, with switching the idols out adding to the frantic action on the screen.
Where all of this gets even better are in the boss battles, which are great multi step fights that vary up the action, and bullet patterns a lot more than during the rest of the stage, and introduce different elements that you haven’t had to deal with previously. One boss battle that I particularly liked had a section that was similar to the Waves mode for those that played Geometry Wars 2.
One unfortunate thing about the boss battles is the lack of a checkpoint right before them. Each level is divided into three stages, followed by the boss battle at the end. If you die on the boss battle, rather than being sent back to the beginning of the boss, you’re sent back to the beginning of the third stage. Each stage is fairly short, so it’s not too bad, but it is still annoying having to work your way through a section that you’ve already finished, just to get back to the boss.
The biggest negative to the game though is the lack of content. There are a total of three levels in the game. Once you’ve finished all three levels, you’ve seen what A City Sleeps has to offer.
There are five different difficulty levels, so if you have the skill, there is plenty to test yourself against after seeing each of the three levels for the first time, and being able to switch up which ghosts you’re taking into a level helps vary things as well, but if you’re not very skilled at the game, such as myself, you’re going to be left wishing there was more to do on the difficulty levels that you’re able to play on.
Overall, A City Sleeps is an extremely well made game that does a great job integrating the music with the frantic action on the screen. If you’re really skilled at the twin stick shooter genre, it will absolutely offer you a challenge, and will be well worth the asking price.
If it’s not a genre that you typically excel at, you’ll likely still enjoy the game, as I did, but you’ll find yourself wishing there was more to do at your skill level.
Thanks to Harmonix for providing us with a pre-release code for review purposes, even if I wasn’t able to redeem it because I had already pre-ordered.
Tomorrow’s Dance Central: Spotlight DLC features one new and two legacy songs from rap superstar Flo Rida. If you’re craving your Kinect-powered I Cry fix, you can also purchase it for Fantasia: Music Evolved tomorrow! The three Flo tracks will also be available as part of Flo Rida Dance Pack 01.
- Flo Rida – I Cry
- Flo Rida – Let It Roll
- Flo Rida ft. T-Pain
Tomorrow we're releasing Flo Rida's hit "I Cry" as part of Flo Rida Dance Pack 01, with "Let It Roll" and "Low"! pic.twitter.com/tnUzfOXeH1
— Dance Central (@Dance_Central) October 20, 2014
With less than two weeks until the launch of Disney’s Fantasia: Music Evolved on both Xbox One, and Kinect for Xbox 360, multiple noteworthy items have hit the Xbox Store this afternoon:
First, the Xbox 360 version of Fantasia has a demo, and it’s available right now for Xbox Live Gold members! As with all Xbox 360 demos, it is currently exclusive to Xbox Live Gold members, and will be available later for all Xbox 360 users.
Secondly, for Xbox One users,
while there is currently no demo showing available, if you’re the type that just goes ahead, and trusts Harmonix, the game is available for pre-purchase, and pre-download right now on the Xbox Store, in two options:
Update: An Xbox One demo is now also available for download from the Xbox Store.
First is the Digital Bundle for $59.99. This comes with the game, and three DLC packs, the Dance Expansion Pack, the Pop Expansion Pack, and the Rock Expansion Pack (more on those in a moment).
The second option is the Deluxe Digital Bundle for $89.99, which includes the game, the three DLC packs mentioned above, and 18 additional DLC songs.
The DLC songs available in this Deluxe Digital Bundle include:
- “As Long As You Love Me” – Justin Bieber
- “Spoonman” – Soundgarden
- “Stay The Night” – Zedd (feat. Hayley Williams)
- “You Make Me” – AVICII
- “Just Like Heaven” – The Cure
- “DONE” – The Band Perry
- “Closer” – Ne-Yo
- “Paradise” – Coldplay
- “Try It Out” – Skrillex & Alvin Risk
- “The End Of The World As We Know It” – R.E.M.
- “Burn” – Ellie Goulding
- “Burning Down The House” – Talking Heads
- “Lucky Strike” – Maroon 5
- “Edge of Glory” – Lady Gaga
- “I Cry” – Flo Rida
As well as the three retail pre-order bonus songs:
- “Lay Me Down” – AVICII
- “Let It Go” – Demi Lovato
- “Counting Stars” – OneRepublic
The additional expansion packs mentioned above are listed as containing additional mixes for songs that are already in the game. These packs include:
Dance Expansion Pack
Additional Dance mixes for the following songs:
- “Some Nights” – Fun.
- “Get Ur Freak On” – Missy Elliott
- “In Your Eyes” – Peter Gabriel
- “Rocket Man” – Elton John
- “Take Care” – Drake (feat. Rhianna)
Pop Expansion Pack
Additional Pop mixes for the following base game songs:
- “Blue Monday” – New Order
- “Forget You” – Cee Lo Green
- “Levels” – AVICII
- “Super Bass” – Nicki Minaj
- “Seven Nation Army” – The White Stripes
- “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen
Rock Expansion Pack
Additional Rock mixes for the following base game songs:
- “Applause” – Lady Gaga
- “Feel Good Inc.” – Gorillaz
- “Galang” – M.I.A.
- “Locked Out Of Heaven” – Bruno Mars
- “Royals” – Lorde
- “Message In A Bottle” – The Police
Selecting any of the DLC currently gives an ‘Unavailable” message on the Xbox Store, so it is currently unknown how much songs/packs will sell for separately. Also worth noting, the regular price Digital Bundle does not appear to include the three pre-order bonus songs that are available at retail.
If any further information is revealed, we’ll be sure to update this post.
Announced today via the Harmonix Newsletter, Dance Central: Spotlight is receiving more new DLC next Tuesday, October 14 in the form of a pack of two songs, along with an additional single. The Ellie Goulding songs will also be available as part of Ellie Goulding Dance Pack 01 for $3.49.
- Ellie Goulding – Burn
- Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj – Bang Bang
- Ellie Goulding – Lights
Dance Central: Spotlight keeps the new songs, and dance packs coming with this week’s DLC, scheduled to hit the Xbox Store tomorrow, October 7. The Iggy Azelea songs will be available as part of Iggy Azelea Dance Pack 01 for $3.49, and the Justin Bieber tracks will be available as part of Justin Bieber Dance Pack 01 for $6.99.
- Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX – Fancy
- Iggy Azalea ft. Rita Ora – Black Widow
- Justin Bieber ft. Big Sean – As Long As You Love Me
- Justin Bieber ft. Jaden Smith – Never Say Never
- Justin Bieber ft. Ludacris – All Around the World
- Justin Bieber ft. Nicki Minaj – Beauty and a Beat
On October 21st the soundtrack to Fantasia: Music Evolved will be available for purchase! Featuring 24 tracks, including both original compositions and the arrangements of the classical music that will be featured in the game, you can pre-order the album right now for only $9.99! As a bonus, if you purchase it from sumthing.com you’ll get 22 exclusive tracks, including many of the various remixes that you can hear in the game. Definitely check it out, and head here to pre-order!
— Nick Chester (@nickchester) September 23, 2014