The glitchy, over-the-top Auto-Tune aesthetic recurring in post-millennium pop songs has made anyone believe they can be a successful singer. By the same logic, Cosmic DJ proposes that you can be “the Cosmic DJ of Legend” with a Euclidean grid sequencer and the slightest sense of rhythm. It’s a compelling argument.
Your role in this monomyth is to become one with the graph algorithms of your machine. Each jam session supplies you with a handful of instruments for you to tap out polyrhythmic drum loops, shimmering synth patterns, and the occasional doggy burps of a vocoder.
Your skill level is never truly assessed, not mechanically, as Cosmic DJ is tailored for all degrees of musical talent. It’s intuitive, pick-up-and-play music creation manageable with just a mouse and keyboard. You can hold a mini concerto in your bedroom five minutes after you start playing and it will sound half-decent—like a jagged composition of all 2006’s chart-toppers.
It’s not entirely directionless keyboard mashing, however. Cosmic DJ is narrated by a distraught hypercube who directs your attention towards the restoration of four Jamtennas. These cosmic antennas hold the intergalactic harmony of the retro-future in balance—well, they did. So you head inside each of them to produce a set of fresh vibes that’ll unite the guardians within so they continue with their duty.
Each Jamtenna treats you to another spin of Cosmic DJ’s own bizarre mix of ultra-kitsch love stories, hand puppets, and divided space corgis. Each small tale has the same cheesy qualities of the music videos and glam culture of the electronic new-age of the ’80s. You travel through the same dimension as the beat-synched leapfrogging gentlemen in the Fine Young Cannibal’s “She Drives Me Crazy”; John Travolta’s glitzy dances in strips of silver denim in Staying Alive; and the rigid, colorful early computer animation in Dire Straits’s “Money for Nothing” video.
The singular disappointment of Cosmic DJ‘s entertainment is its limitations. It’s an enthusing gateway drug to music creation, but once you get to grips with the basics it has no room for more advanced tailoring. Of course, it never purports to be complex; its mission is to be exactly the opposite. But it does mean that after a few hours of playful instrumentation you’ll have exhausted its possibilities.
Even then, the .MP3 Encoder means that you can save and export your short jams and share them with friends (here’s a song that I made in Cosmic DJ). You leave most videogames with nothing else but memories, but Cosmic DJ allows you to spin your own EP and proudly terrorize all those within your reach with offbeat tunes.
Cosmic DJ can be purchased on Steam Early Access.