Lost in Harmony is a different kind of game. It’s a rhythm-based game, and there are no shortage of those in the App Store, but Lost in Harmony is…well, I don’t want to say “special,” although that’s what’s coming to mind. I think it’s more fair to say that it’s complete.
This is because it works on nearly every level. Most rhythm games—in which you tap/swipe on the screen to the beat of the music—simply throw some popular songs at you and expect that to be it. But unless you’re into the music, there’s not much incentive to progress.
Lost in Harmony has a few important things going for it to compel you forward. The first (and some would say most important, although I’d disagree) is the story. Lost in Harmony tells the story of a girl who learns she has cancer, and her friend’s efforts to help her deal with it, even when he’s having trouble himself. But the presentation is not heavy-handed; it’s told entirely through text messages…the boy on the bed with his headphones on, the girl at some distant location.
She updates him on her condition, and he enters dreamworlds that reflect his emotions, skateboarding through myriad hazards while bearing her on his back. The environments through which the two race switch seamlessly from chaotic to serene to dreamlike to terrifying, all in tune with that these are dealing with.
The second key element is the gameplay. I call this a rhythm game, but it’s a mashup between that and your various runners. You’ll swipe left and right, up and down to avoid obstacles that come at you from behind, ahead, and each side, but it’s all done to the beat of the music, unlike most runners. You’ll also need to tap specific areas at times, but the gameplay rarely gets too chaotic…at least on the levels provided with the game. More on that in a bit.
It was hard for me to achieve more than a C on most levels, but I also never felt that the challenge was unfair.
The third element is the music, and this is where I argue Lost in Harmony is at its best. Most of the songs are modern spins on classical pieces you’ve heard many times, so you’re likely familiar enough to work your way through the first time. The music is effective at matching the mood with the environments, and it all comes together incredibly well…
…until you get to the level editor.
Lost in Harmony allows you to create your own levels using music from your device, from iTunes, or from SoundCloud, free of charge. It’s actually not too hard to do this, but do it well? That’s another story. I played through quite a few of the most popular options made available by other players, and most were a mess. I would like to see the developers at Digixart rate them based on their own expert opinions, as opposed to leaving it up to players who will generally vote by the popularity of the song.
But no matter. Your $3.99 purchase gets you more than enough developer-generated content (at two difficulties) to compensate for the inability to find the good user-generated levels. And even after you get through the story, perfectionists can go back to try to improve their performance. Getting S ranks will require familiarity with what’s ahead, so expect many play-throughs if that’s your goal.
The developers are also counting down to “The Next Adventure,” so expect more content to come.
Which reminds me; it’s worth mentioning that although Lost in Harmony offers in-app purchases, none of them are at all necessary to complete the game. They’re simply accessories you can use to change the characters’ appearance: skateboards, headphones, hats and such. So spend the four bucks, ignore the community area, and experience one of the most, yes, special and complete gaming experiences you’ll find on iOS.
Genre: Rhythm-based runner
Seller: Digixart Entertainment
Requirements: iOS 8.0 or later
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch
Price: $3.99 (with in-app purchases)
Availability: Now at the iTunes App Store