There was a time when rhythmic games were in high demand but recently the genre has gone from sleepy to basically dormant. Some dance games are still lingering towards the bottom of the charts, but the genre desperately needs something refreshing and craves a new approach. Developer Beat Games provides an answer with their relatively new VR game, Beat Saber, which provides a private party fit for long sessions.
The idea behind Beat Saber really couldn't be any simpler. The player is holding red and blue lightsabers that are used to slice cubes of the same colour flying towards the player. The cubes are advancing in sync with the background music and need to be sliced in a certain manner indicated by the cube itself. As an addition to the cube slicing, the player needs to avoid hitting walls or slicing mines thrown in among the cubes. The level of difficulty can be changed, and it affects the amount of the cubes, mines and walls the player will face. The gap between the normal and the hard level seems a bit steep at first but the more you play the more you are in control even during the harder challenges. It was a great feeling to notice that after a while muscle memory kicked in and we were slicing fast-approaching cubes without thinking. It's also very positive to notice that Beat Saber doesn't make the challenge unfair at any point. You can really sense that the game just wants to keep the party going.
Played with the Move controllers, Beat Saber is an optimised gaming experience. The response time of the controllers is very snappy and helps to make the slicing extremely accurate. Slicing the cubes becomes like second nature when the controllers feel like a part of your hand. The game also runs smoothly even with the standard PlayStation 4 model. This is essential considering the slicing needs to be honed to perfection if you plan to handle the more difficult levels.
In addition to the polished gameplay, Beat Saber also offers stylised graphics. The sci-fi environment and neon glow remind us of 2010's Tron: Legacy and its computer world, and what could be cooler than that? The Lightsabers have a fancy shine and they react with sparks flying when put together. It's clear that a lot of thought has been put into the art and animations with the final product shining as a result. We were only left wanting for more variation in terms of the environment, the selection of different swords, and the look of the cubes.
This quality gaming experience is crowned by an excellent soundtrack. The music gets more energetic and catchier song by song. Beat Saber plays bass filled techno, rap, rhythmic pop and so on. The variety in terms of music is pleasingly inclusive, and it fits the gaming environment perfectly (though it would be nice if there was an option to add your own music and challenges to the game to lengthen the gaming experience). At least Beat Games is working on additional content and promises to keep the party going for the foreseeable future.
The extremely polished technical execution and the grand soundtrack makes sure that you'll enjoy Beat Saber for a long time. What makes things even better is that you're getting physical exercise while playing. Only after 15 minutes of playing, we were soaked. You can forget the expensive weekend partying in the club because Beat Saber brings a quality sci-fi techno party straight to your living room with a simple push of a button. The new dawn of the rhythm genre starts with Beat Saber.