Beat Saber Review – Welcome young padawan
There was a time, not too long ago, when we had a lot of rhythm-based games release, such as Dance-Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero and Rock Band. These games required you to mash buttons on your controllers, in rhythm to the music and you also needed to hit the corresponding colour. The better you played the faster the music got, needing you to have almost a zen like concentration.
Fast forward to today, Virtual Reality is getting more and more commonplace. The HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift the two flag bearers for PC based Virtual Reality (VR) have made it possible to get into it, though affordability is another matter. Gaming has always driven technology, and VR has been no exception.
Today we look at Beat Saber – a very popular VR game available on the HTC Vive , Oculus Rift and also Sony’s PlayStation VR. If you are a Star Wars fan and always wanted to slash out at objects with your lightsaber, this game allows you to do indulge in this fantasy. Game play on both platforms are quite similar, and addictively simple.
The basic goal of the game is to use the Light Sabers, which are like laser swords to slash through blocks that fly at you, which appear in tune with the beat of the music in the background. Hence the name of the game is ‘Beat Saber’.
You are provided two sabers, red in the left hand and blue in the right. Blocks either red or blue, keep appearing before you in tune to the music from a distance, and once they get close enough, we slash through them.
The blocks are coloured either red or blue, and they have arrows on them pointing in the direction they need to be slashed, to be destroyed. If you slash in the wrong direction or use the wrong color saber on the block or miss one too many you would lose the level. Every correct slash adds points. So in a way, this is like Fruit Ninja….in the Star Wars-esque universe.
Some blocks only have a dot in the middle, which can be slashed in any direction, but still needs to be cut with the same color saber. To get the highscore you have to make sure you hit the blocks accurately in the direction shown and most importantly don’t miss any to keep your combo meter up. It looks deceptively simple, but as you raise the difficulty level from easy all the way to expert you would really need to be fast to keep up. Rectangular blocks come at you either from the sides or from the top, and you need to move out of the way to avoid them.
Each track is carefully mapped by the developers with just the right number of blocks and speed of the music to keep you interested in the game. Speed is not the only thing you need to worry about, obstacles are also added to make sure you keep yourself on the move dodging and ducking out of the way.
Beat Saber can also be used as a good workout, which the game already is, the addition to blocks flying at you, the obstacles add an extra push in the right direction, which are squatting or moving left or right.
Also, present are mines, which explode on contact with your saber, so make sure to get them out of the way once you cut through a block. Hitting any of the blocks and mines reduce the combo counter and if you hit too many you will lose the level.
The game also features several other modes to keep you from getting bored.
“No arrows” have blocks come at you with no arrows on them, hence you can slash them in any direction you feel fit.
“One saber mode”, which has you playing with only one saber and blocks are of only one color.
Party mode allows for group play, swapping headsets between friends and keeping track of high scores by each player.
Soundtrack wise, there are only a few tracks available on Beat Saber, but they are all fantastic and fun to play. All the music available sound incredible and are custom produced for the game. Also, the custom experience that comes with it, makes you feel like you are part of the song, with the slashes coinciding with the beats.
We have an option to set no fail on, so even if we miss a few blocks, the game doesn’t stop.
This is helpful in a fitness perspective, else if we miss too much, we would need to start over and the part which gives me maximum movement would have to be reached again.
Also, the red and blue boxes don’t stay on their assumed designated sides and can change positions while they’re flying at you.
VR is so much more immersive than standard video game’s that you are totally sucked into its world, making you forget about everything around us. Tracking quality on the PlayStation VR is not up to par with the PC based VR systems but is no slouch either.
Beat Saber is fantastic in every which way, the music, the gameplay, the environments are all top notch. It is also quite challenging at higher levels giving you a good workout, and if you a highscore junkie this would not disappoint.
The game is not hard to pick up and is very difficult to actually put down. If you have a high-end VR headset, this is one title you shouldn’t miss, and if you don’t have one, this is the title you might want to get one for. New tracks keep getting added, to spice up the gameplay, as music is the heart of the game, and playing the same tracks will get monotonous soon.
At $20 it’s not expensive, and with massive discounts during the holidays this is a title to keep a watch for.