Far from the high octane pop and EDM overload that characterizes most rhythm games, Deemo and its freshly released sequel, Deemo II, stand apart. The latest installment from the mobile masterminds at Rayark Games, Deemo II has more to offer than your standard rhythm game. And best of all, it's completely free with no ads.
Between its truly stunning animations (I would happily watch a full-length film with these graphics), piano-centric charts that tug at your heartstrings, and surprisingly good world-building, Deemo II is doing some seriously heavy lifting to elevate its genre to new heights. I may be a biased party thanks to my undying love for rhythm games, but don't be shocked when you see Deemo II on our list of best Android games.
Since it's primarily a rhythm game, Deemo II's progression and core gameplay lie in completing musical charts. Most of these have a piano focus, with some fun jazzy tracks thrown in for a bit of pep and energy. This is for good reason, as Deemo II's entire story centers around music, and especially the piano.
Even the rhythm gaming aspect presents itself as though you're playing a piano. Black and white keys descend from the top of the screen and you need to hit them when they're right at the "judgement line" to nail a perfect (or "charming", as the game calls them) note. If the notes flash gold you've done it, if they're green you almost got it perfect, and if you miss entirely they just fizzle out and disappear. Thankfully, you can miss notes without any repurcussions other than a deduction from your total score, unlike Beatstar's more punishing tactics.
It seems simple, but I am hot, flaming garbage at this game right now. I'm getting better with practice, but I'm definitely out of my Cytus II and Muse Dash comfort zone. That's not a bad thing, as it shows there's still room for new challenges in the rhythm landscape, especially among more veteran players. There are also in-game special events that players can join for greater rewards. Some of these are beginner and intermediate-friendly, but others are specifically for skilled players aiming for those leaderboard spots.
Outside of the rhythm segments of Deemo II, the game had some major elements that really caught me off guard. I have obsessively played Rayark's other titanic rhythm title, Cytus II, so I thought I had a good idea of what I was in for with Deemo II. I couldn't have been more wrong, and mostly in positive ways. The biggest surprises were the inclusions of adventure and RPG elements like NPCs to befriend, a large map to explore, and even optional sidequests.
Cytus II had a fascinating story and setting, but if you chose not to interact with it, that left the world-building up to a handful of cutscenes. Deemo II is vastly different in that it has a single central protagonist, Echo, and she exists in a world that you actively interact with: the train station.
Echo and the other humanoid denizens of this mysterious world are plagued by the Hollow Rain, a destructive phenomenon that causes anyone it touches to "bloom", erasing them from existence by turning them into a flurry of white flower petals. Echo herself was a victim of the hollow rain and she appeared to have bloomed into a petal storm herself, but supposedly a godlike figure known as The Composer rescued her and brought her back to life.
The story comes across as bewildering and confusing at first, but as you unlock more of the narrative and continue to interact with other characters, the puzzle becomes clearer. Having some backstory from the first Deemo title might help give a bit more context, but I don't believe it's necessary for new players going straight into Deemo II.
There are, however, a few cons with this hot-off-the-presses title. The progression in unlocking new charts can be painfully slow, along with how much XP you get from completing the charts you do have. If you don't purchase the premium pass, you'll spend a lot of time replaying the same charts to move the story along. Of course, you can purchase the premium pass to unlock more charts, but that costs a whopping $20, and I'm not sure I'm that into this game yet.
I've also run into a few technical glitches, like the game kicking me out to do updates (even at the end of playing a chart before it saves my progress) or glitched screens upon entering the game. Closing out and re-opening the app has always fixed these, but it's still annoying. There's also a known bug right now with events not giving out the right amount of rewards upon completion. Rayark is very proactive in responding to these reports though and it'll continue to roll out more updates with the needed fixes.
Overall, Deemo II is a superbly crafted rhythm-adventure game. I cannot stress enough how visually beautiful it is. The cutscenes are stunning, but even the backgrounds are absolutely gorgeous. It's clear that a lot of love and dedication went into the art and design. Other than a few glitches, which I'm sure will get ironed out in time, there's little to find fault with here.
What's more, Deemo II is free-to-play and doesn't even have ads. It's monetized through in-app purchases for things like cosmetics, event tickets, and additional music packs. If you love rhythm games you haven't tried out Deemo II yet, you need to hop on this train.
A worthy successor
Don't rain on me.
From the makers of Deemo and Cytus comes the latest fantastic entry in rhythm gaming: Deemo II.
A lifelong gamer, Mogan has had a controller in hand since the PlayStation 1 ruled the world and Neopets seemed eternal. She loves to play new and old games alike, especially if it's something weird and charming. Puzzlers, JRPGs, adventure, and rhythm games are her favorites.
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