April 2, 2015 8:00 AM | Lena LeRay
Developer Made With Monster Love describes Cadence as "a musical playground of beautiful puzzles." Based on their demo, it's an accurate description. Cadence is a puzzle game, one that's open-ended and allows the player to experiment so that the end product is not just a finished level but also a custom treat for the ears.
Each puzzle is made up of nodes which must be connected by lines such that once the beat is started, energy will travel along the lines from node to node in an endless loop of momentum and sound. Every node has its own note to play and a shape that informs the player how the node behaves. Some nodes can only send energy in one direction in the 3D space; others bounce the energy they receive back from whence it came; others need to receive a jolt of energy to charge the node before it can send the next bit of energy it receives onward. And these are only a few examples. There are more, which the demo introduces gradually.
The first couple of levels in the demo only have one solution to get the player started, but as the puzzles grow more complex, they open up to multiple solutions. Each solution gives the player a different tune, and the game allows further customization by letting the player choose different synthesized instruments at any time.
Although sound is definitely the focus of Cadence, the player's eyes are not neglected. The whole interface is minimalistic, which makes sense for a game they plan to release on iPad as well as desktops. The nodes are almost all black, with one type of node being white in the demo, set against backgrounds in different, solid colors. Upon completing a puzzle and setting up an endless loop of sound, shiny white lines emanate from the back of the node clusters in a pattern created by the energy traveling from node to node.
Even with only a fairly early demo to go on, Cadence is shaping up to be a great open-ended puzzle game. Most of the demo asks the player to put together single clusters of nodes, but the last couple of demo stages introduce multiple node clusters with different instrument sets that must be set to loop simultaneously. There's a lot of potential waiting to be tapped, and it looks like Made With Monster Love already has ideas about how to do so.
The developers recently ran a Kickstarter campaign which failed, but they aren't letting that stop them. "Despite the dedicated enthusiasm of over 500 backers, the campaign didn't reach its goal and no funds were raised," their web site says. "But we asked ourselves: what was the minimum we really need to carry on working on the game? The answer was noodles. Lots of noodles." So they're running a "Noodlestarter" campaign, taking pre-orders to fund Cadence's development. For $9.99, you can just order a Windows/Mac copy to be delivered on release, or for $14.99 you can get beta builds, too, including getting on the wait list for iPad beta builds.