Rhythm games come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. From the screen tapping, stylus swirling game play of the Elite Beat Agents game to the frantic, sweat-inducing dancing of they DDR games to the pulse pounding drum play of the Taiko no Tatsujin games to the straight up button mashing of the Hatsune Miku series. There’s a rhythm game out there for everyone. I’ve played a lot of them because I really like music. I like rhythm. I like the combination of the two. Project Diva X is the most recent game in this vocaloid series.
The story of the game is just cheesy. I didn’t like it. I didn’t think it needed to be there. Sure, it’s fun to see the characters interacting with each other; Miku, Rin and Luka get very excited about the idea of forming a rock band together, but ultimately it’s just there to provide some reason to break the songs in the game up into different styles. See, in the game you’re supposed to reconnect five different clouds of music together and to do that you have to “learn” about each of the different styles and how to best embody that type of music. I found myself groaning at the saccarin-sweetness of the whole thing. It’s really, cheesy y’all. In it’s defense many rhythm games try to inject a story where one isn’t really needed and most of them revolve around saving the world through the power of dance. This one is no different.
Where games like this really need to shine is in the game play itself. I’m not a huge fan of vocaloid music in general. I do like the musical aspect of these, even if the vocal parts are not my favorite thing. The Miku series has always had stellar game play and this release is no different. It’s really, REALLY good. The rhythms you’re tapping out on the buttons match the music incredibly well. The easier difficulties have you tapping out the rhythm on one or two buttons. Occasionally a note will have you hit both a face button and a direction on the d-pad at the same time, but that’s as difficult as it gets. You’re first time through the game you’ll have to play through the songs on either easy, or normal. Neither of these are very hard at all, but no other difficulties are unlocked from the beginning.
However, once you’ve played through the game one time and completed the story, which should only take you three or four hours, you gain access to other difficulty levels, which will really test your hand-eye coordination. Its gets intense on the hardest difficulty. I can barely make it through any songs at that level.
There are some mechanics in the game that you can play around with outside of the music itself. There’s a costume section where you can outfit your characters in a huge assortment of different outfits. These outfits, unlike in previous games in the past, play more into the rhythm game portion of the song. Each outfit is labeled with a style, the same as the different clouds you play music in. If you outfit your vocaloid in the same style of clothes as the cloud you get a voltage boost. Voltage is what you’re trying to earn to repower the clouds in the game. In addition to the clothes there are four different accessory slots as well you can place things. Each accessory in the game is also labeled with a specific style. Equip more of the proper items, get more voltage. This makes it easier to achieve the scores that you’re looking for in the rhythm game. These clothing and accessory changes are not necessary to complete the game, but they are beneficial in helping you achieve passing scores easier.
You can also unlock gifts as you play through the game. These gifts can be given to different vocaloids. You have to learn their specific likes and dislikes. Giving them the correct types of gifts increases your friendship score in the game. Interacting with the different vocaloids, giving them gifts can unlock things called Event Quests. These event quests allow you to unlock clothing and accessories that are more rare, with better voltage boosts. Again, none of these things are required, but finding these rare modules (as the clothing is called) makes it much easier to achieve passing scores, especially on higher difficulties.
When it boils right down to it the most important thing about a rhythm game is the music itself and interacting with the music. That’s where the Hatsune Mike series has always shined. Project Diva X is no exception. This is one of the best rhythm games I’ve played. The cursory stuff outside the music is a bit cheesy and over the top, but it fits in with the personality of these characters so it’s a bit easier to give it a pass. What you have is a really, well made, well designed and just plain fun rhythm game that I could begin to recommend enough.
PS4 Review copy of the game provided by Sega
Played through the story once and a number of songs in Free Play mode.
Total Play Time: 7 hours