Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Review Day: Beat Saber (Early Access)

"Not to sound like a shitty Ted Talk or anything, but virtual reality is finally here."

I pulled my Oculus Rift out of storage last week after not having played with it since that whole "having a kid" thing happened. In addition to re-downloading all of the games I partially played and dropped midway, I also used up some store credit on a pre-release version of Beat Saber, a rhythm game in which you slash through blocks with light sabers in time to the music. Since the awful first season of Riverdale proved that telling is inferior to showing, here is a gameplay video recorded in my new semi-permanent VR room (formerly known as "the workout room" and sometimes known as "the basement"):

I'm not usually the target market for rhythm games -- in spite of my music degree, I do awfully in Rock Band and Guitar Hero. As one of 4 people in the world that ever bought the dance mat for the Nintendo GameCube, I must make due with getting a barely passing grade while dancing to the Super Mario Brothers theme song and getting laughed at by a Goomba. In spite of this, I took to Beat Saber very easily.

At Early Access, the game contains 10 songs written exclusively for this game with 4 difficulty modes. I do pretty well on Hard mode, but fail almost immediately on Expert mode where there are more blocks flying at you than Funko Pop dolls when a tornado hits Gamestop. The game is very enjoyable at a visceral level, with satisfying feedback on block slicing and fun patterns that really get your body moving -- the designers clearly want you to play with your entire body instead of playing it safe with tiny, precise, controlled cuts. It can be quite the workout at higher levels and will no doubt fuel a demand for after-market headset covers that don't absorb all of your sweat for the next player to bathe in.

Since the game is still Early Access, it feels pretty limited in content. However, there's a lot of potential here (especially the possibility for mods, like this mod that puts Gangam Style in the game and forces you to do the actual dance). This could definitely be a game that pulls non-VR gamers into the fray without having to wade through the slow, extended tutorials and endless slideshows that currently act as a VR gatekeeper. Rebecca really enjoys playing as well and sometimes uses it as a wake-up workout before Maia is up in the morning!

Final Grade: I'd give it a B right now, subject to change when it's officially released!

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 3 comments


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