Pulse: Volume One iPad Review

Developer Cipher Prime wowed audiences with the critically acclaimed Auditorium. Now the company's back with the iPad exclusive Pulse: Volume One, a rhythm game with stylish graphics and a cool soundtrack, but is it fun to play? Kind of.

Pulse is all about hitting notes in time with the beat, which essentially boils down to tapping a bunch of circles as they travel along what Ciper Prime calls a radiant pulse. Press them in time, and you'll conduct harmonious melodies. Wait just a fraction of a second too long, and they explode, forcing you to get back on track.

Meanwhile, a satisfying mix of colors and shapes (butterflies, for example) appear on screen, giving the game an wonderfully artistic appearance. At the very least, it looks unique.

At the same time, it's also short on content and quite frustrating. Pulse costs five bucks to download and you only receive eight songs, some of which barely last a minute; to be fair, Cipher Prime plans to release new music via download each month.

In addition, the game's neither remarkable or incredible, as some reviewers have called it. The entire experience revolves around following and popping rapidly growing circles. We certainly appreciate the high level of interactivity, as well as the music one creates by mastering this concept, but for us, Pulse became a bit repetitive.

More importantly, it's a bit too hard. The tutorial half-heartedly teaches you how to play, without specific instruction on what you're supposed to do; the song begins and the developers force you to learn by haphazardly pressing notes.

Meanwhile, the difficulty ramps up significantly between the early songs, as the creators challenge you to hit two notes at the same time. Problem is, it's tough to track them as they move in different directions, and once the beat was lost, so was our collective interest.

On top of that, the game just comes off a bit too artsy fartsy for its own good. The tutorial is certainly proof of this, but so are the missing features, like achievements, Game Center support and leaderboards.

Bottom line, Pulse left us wanting more, and it remains to be seen whether Ciper Prime will deliver. While enjoyable, the game feels a bit unfinished, and there seems to be a ton of potential that the designers may or may not fulfill. Unless you need to play every single music game (or get swept away in the bizarre string of perfect scores), wait for the next update and/or price drop.

[Editor's Note: We may amend this review (and the final score) after future updates.]

Requirements: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 4.2 or later.

Download Pulse: Volume One

What's Hot: Stylish visuals, beautiful soundtrack, addictive tap-tap gameplay.

What's Not: Only eight songs, costs $5.00, no Game Center support or multiple difficulty levels.

3/5