Review | Beat Saber
Guitar Hero: Beat your heart out
As of late, rhythm games have been lacking. Guitar Hero and its many many replicas have been discarded along with dance mats and a variety of other music based games. Even my personal favourite as a kid, Tap Tap Revenge, mobile based rhythm game has been forgotten about in place of other, better funded titles. Alas, music is only for Spotify and Soundcloud, audiences seem to say. Beat Saber, however, is something different.
I can’t exactly remember when I first heard about Beat Saber. It’s the sort of game that was in the back of my mind, with a definite sentiment of ‘oh yeah, I’ll definitely want to play that game when it comes out’. My colleagues and I have even looked enviously on at those who have got the chance to play the title at gaming conventions. Luckily, I had the good fortune of my older brother bringing it home over a holiday and man oh man, do I love it.
To explain the concept of the game briefly, imagine you have a lightsaber in each hand. You’re standing on a platform in the middle of a space age hall and before you appear blocks of light. With some beat heavy music guiding your judgement you have to slice and dice the blocks out of the way when they fly towards you, along with dodging bombs and massive light walls. It sort of feels like you’re playing the drums in a much cooler way.
My lovely brother summed this game up perfectly. ‘The time between picking this game up, having never played it before, and then being able to thoroughly enjoy it, is a matter of seconds’, and he is absolutely right. You load up the game, press play on a song and difficulty level and off you go. It’s a simple concept pulled off in such an excellent way.
The songs are fun to listen to and the timing of the blocks you have to hit are nicely in tune with the music, something I had a gripe with within other rhythm games was things not syncing up as you think they should. Hitting the blocks is satisfying with controllers that vibrate and, for the most part are responsive.
Most of the frustrations I had with the game were calibration related. Either I would definitely hit a block but the PSVR would forget where I was for a second, or I had slight difficulty finding a way to duck under the floating blocks without it thinking I was outside of the game area, but these are relatively minor compared the to the masses amounts of joy I got out of playing it.
The other slightly infuriating thing, is how hard this game can be. It’s not so much the concept of hitting the blocks, but doing it ‘well’. I, for example, hit every block in the game without fail. A perfect performance I would have thought, but nope, Beat Saber doesn’t think so. They prefered to give me a B and send me on my merry way, without a clue as to why I didn't get an A. It seems I was supposed to hit the blocks ‘better’ for more points and I hadn’t played to that standard.
The other tough part of the game is the difficulty spike between Hard and Expert level gameplay. Hard really wasn’t too bad! I could play a level, finish it even, and think that maybe Expert was for me. Nope. No. Nah. Hell no. Failure after failure proceeded with not even being able to get past the first 30 seconds of the song. As of now, I still haven’t been able to finish one of those levels, as I decided Hard difficulty was more fun than being annoyed and possibly flinging a controller in frustration.
Despite that difficulty spike, which between you and me, I will get over as soon as possible, the game is incredibly fun. It’s so well done, not just in it’s rhythm game sense. Even just standing in the game’s world is completely immersive and frankly gorgeous. Chilling on the platform can be a pleasure, as looking down at the ground shows a really satisfying reflection of the lights around you and touching sabers together looks just like if might in Star Wars. So much of this game works and everything that doesn’t is probably my fault for not being good at the game yet, so I can fix it myself.
If you have a VR headset for the Playstation, this game really is a must-try. It’s fun, it’s relatively cheap for a console game and it’s quick enough that you don’t feel as if you have to spend hours in it to make any progress. I highly recommend trying Beat Saber out to all.
Review Round Up:
Insane amounts of fun
Less than perfect calibration
How does one hit ‘well’?