Cyto Review: Not terribly infectious

Cyto Screenshot - 1168344

Developer Room 8 has their hand quite deep in the mobile cookie jar with such games as Riot Runners, Popcorn Party and Cyto. After its initial Android and subsequent iOS release, the latter has recently come to Steam, bringing with it a staunch reminder that mobile games are most enjoyable when played to kill time. When the power and variety of PC gaming supplants the sheer convenience of a smartphone, however, otherwise fun and simple mobile titles quickly run out of steam.

Cyto is a 2D puzzler starring titular single-celled organism Cyto and his quest to recover his lost memories. It’s an appropriately cute premise for an objectively cutesy game, and complements its smooth and cartoonish visuals. Gameplay, too, is straightforward: slingshot your way between cells, using anchor points to plan your path and avoiding obstacles all the while. The game’s original touch controls feel right home on a mouse; pulling Cyto back adjusts your arc—the angle of which is shown before launching—and clicking on an anchored cell will detach Cyto, letting gravity take over. You’re also able to swivel around an anchor point, staying attached to the cell but nabbing nearby collectibles or drifting directly to a new point.

Cyto

Haunting, indeed.

Collecting the maximum three memory fragments found in each level is the only source of challenge, as simply ignoring them and rushing to a level’s end is extremely easy. However, several mechanics do spice up the microscopic jumping. Green anchors, for example, cannot be used as jump points but offer an increased range allowing for greater maneuverability. Per video game logic, red spikes make certain portions of cells hazardous, as do floating spike balls. These dangers work particularly well with steam vents, which alter Cyto’s traditional trajectory.

Despite its variety, on the whole Cyto is a familiar experience for anyone who’s browsed an app store. Levels outnumber mechanics roughly ten to one, and each of the game’s four worlds grow stale halfway through. The drive to collect all memory fragments is a weak one as well, despite offering two rewards—optional “golden” levels which up the difficulty and snippets of Cyto’s pre-amnesia life. The former offers a brief reprieve from the often monotonous pace of standard levels while the latter pertains only to a scant few text boxes which are ultimately worthless.

Cyto

The challenge provided by Golden levels is the best thing about them; never mind the extra memories.

It certainly isn’t soulless, but neither does Cyto ooze vitality. To its credit, excellent music carries the experience well and builds an impressive level of atmosphere for such a simple game. Unfortunately, those playing the game on Steam will likely become bored with the title well before completing half of its over 100 levels. When waiting in the parking garage, killing time on a long drive or waiting for a friend at a restaurant, Cyto may very well be a pleasant way to spend your time. But at home, with a keyboard, mouse and monitor in front of you, it’s little more than a reminder that there are better, deeper puzzle games at your immediate disposal. 

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Austin Wood
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