Developer: Beat Games (Formerly Hyperbolic Magnetism)
Platform(s): PSVR (also available on PC)
As an owner of the PSVR since it’s release two and a half years ago now, there are a few games in my library that I like to introduce new players to; games that are fun, easy to pick up and not vomit-inducing (Astro Bots, Superhot VR, etc.). I can take most, if not all VR games for longer periods of time and not get dizzy or want to throw up, but I know that there are others that cannot. Safely, I can say that now Beat Saber has been added to the list of games that are a MUST play for any PSVR owner, and a great game for even beginner players to pick up and have a fun time with. This game DOES require quite a bit of movement and exercise, so make sure you’re sufficiently warmed up.
I know, when you look this game up you think “Meh, I’m not into techno music.” Depending on the type of person you are, this may not be the game for you if music is a deciding factor. Setting musical taste aside (I’m a known metal-head, but I can enjoy electronic music), the gameplay is what matters here. There isn’t much to learn; take two Playstation Move controllers (there is no other controller method) and swing them like swords in the directions the boxes coming at you show you, to the beat of the music. Simple! What can be so appealing to non-gamers is how simplistic the controls are, which don’t require memorizing buttons or where they are on the controllers, which can be difficult for newcomers to the PSVR headset (DO NOT make a newcomer play Skyrim VR). All it takes is a swipe up, down, left or right, and sometimes diagonal. The only memorization necessary is that each controller specifies a color, typically Red on the left hand, and Blue on the right hand.
With many VR games, especially ones requiring use of the Move controllers, tracking and movement is a constant battle sometimes, requiring constant resets for long periods of play. I have yet to ever do that in my extended gameplay sessions. Holding the controllers still, they don’t move or “shift” anywhere. The developers did a GREAT job with making it work so well. They had to of course, when you design a game that requires accuracy in your swipes. The only settings that may need to be adjusted are if you’re playing with a group of people with a wide range of heights. For the most part you should be OK, but if there’s more than a foot difference between players, you may need to adjust it in the Options menu (hint: make sure you know how tall you are in Centimeters!).
There are various forms of difficulties, from easy all the way up to expert, and each song presents their own challenges, so if you’re good at one song on expert, others may not be so kind to you. The game itself is fun and challenging, and you can practice each song by slowing the tempo down to nail down the “swipe patterns” and even learn the intricacies of the song you’re playing. You can also turn on various modifiers to make the song easier (no fail mode, no bombs, slow BPM) or harder (Insta-Fail, Fast BPM, disappearing arrows). These modifiers can hurt your overall score, or help it, and you can compare your scores with others on the leaderboards instantly, and cry at how much better everyone is than you. If you’re brave enough, you can try one-handed mode and feel like a true swordsman.
As stated before, the only barrier to this game being enjoyable for some people is the music selection. Most of them are pop-techno inspired, some with lyrics and most without. As of this writing, two songs have been uploaded for free, one of them being the popular League of Legends K-Pop song “POPSTARS” by KDA. There are other DLC song packs coming out soon; three 10-packs have been announced, however release dates are yet to be determined. You can easily get through these 16+ songs to completion, and unless you’re into punishment by trying to nail everything on expert, the songs can get stale after a while. But to me, that doesn’t deter me from having a great time with it. With a $30 price tag, it won’t break the bank, but I can understand if some want more content.
I highly recommend this game as a must-have for PSVR owners (it is also on PC, with a great modding community, however this review only covers the PSVR version). It’s barrier to entry for gamers and non-gamers alike is simple, the mechanics are easy (no button presses necessary, unless you’re in menus) and the gameplay itself is simple to learn, but also hard to master if you change the difficulties, and add additional modifiers to change the game a bit. There’s even a Campaign mode that takes you down a path where you play songs that force modifiers on you, and a Party Mode! If you’re not into electronic music this may not fit the bill for you, and the developers at Beat Games have made it clear that the game itself is designed for electronic music, so don’t expect any rock songs in the future. Regardless, I feel the game is fun and challenging enough that you’ll forget about it all and have a great time!
Rating : MUST HAVE