Beat Saber by Hyperbolic Magnetism has been one of those lucky games in the VR marketplace that has received a lot of attention from the media. Ever since the launch of their teaser trailer, many people have kept a close eye on this new type of rhythm game.
In Beat Saber, users wield two different colored lightsabers in their hands and slash through the oncoming beats which are in the form of 3d blocks. They are color coded for the different colored lightsabers where you must slash through them accordingly. The blocks themselves are rhythm matched with the beat of the song and come at you in waves dependent of the difficulty settings.
The VR game was released on May 1st on the Steam marketplace and the Oculus Store ($20 | £15). It is playable on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows mixed reality VR headsets. At one point, Beat Saber was able to reach 1,000 concurrent users which is a tremendous milestone for a indie dev studio. It shows the power of community and how effective marketing can be through various media channels. The game was even able to reach the top 5 global sellers spot at one point on the Steam marketplace.
Damn! 2nd on Global Top Sellers. Amazing! pic.twitter.com/um2jPIPtQX
— Jan “Split” Ilavsky (@Split82) May 1, 2018
So far there are 10 songs available in the early access version of the game. They are all produced by one artist named Jaroslav Beck who was able to create an exciting tracklist. The songs are fun to jam out to and you will catch yourself nodding your head at times. But the game becomes quite repetitive once you play the game for a long period of time. It is a very limited tracklist that will have to be improved over time.
The difficulty of the game varies by levels and songs, similar to how traditional beat based games work. But instead of having to operate different instruments, you are slashing through the beats with lightsabers which makes the gameplay experience a lot more exciting.
But you will find that there is a huge gap between hard and expert modes. While all the other difficulties are quite easy to grasp, the expert mode jumps up in an incremental gap where you barely understand what’s going on. We aren’t saying that this is a bad thing per say but you will notice the biggest gap between hard and expert.
Mechanics And Controls
The mechanics in Beat Saber is quite enjoyable. You are mostly in a stationary position while playing the game (besides flailing your arms like an octopus). There will be occasions where you must avoid the oncoming digital walls but that’s as much as you will move from one position.
The game is quite different than many of today’s AAA VR titles. Most of those games have you moving around a lot as they are played in large areas and maps. But Hyperbolic Magnetism decided to venture down a different path and put together a game where you are mostly stationary.
And as mentioned above, the difficulties will change the whole concept of the game and how focused you need to be. The oncoming blocks show how you must strike down upon it. they will point down, left, right, up, and even angled to the corners. You will have to use slash with your motion sensor controllers accordingly.
Hyperbolic Magnetism did a good job in terms of timing and the sensory portion with the digital objects. The lightsabers slash through accordingly in the game and you actually feel like you are tearing through those blocks when you make contact.
You must be on point with the timing as the blocks vary in speed. You have to be prepared and will eventually get a hang of it as you invest time into the game.
Fun or Not
After playing through the game for hours, we found ourselves still enjoying the game for what it is. Currently, Beat Saber is in early access and are limited to 10 song choices. However, the difficulty settings add in a new flavor to the game and you will find yourself entertained in that aspect. The game isn’t story driven but rather based around the music and the beats. This is great for people like me who enjoy playing games while listening to music.
Beat Saber also allows you to be creative with how you play the game. There is a mode in Beat Saber where you can choose to not play by the block’s arrow orientations and play freely to slice up the blocks in whatever way you want. With this mode available, streamers got a bit creative. Take Ragesaq for example. He put both of his controllers together to wield the lightsaber like Darth Maul.
We hope to see various modes once the full version of the game releases to the public. For now, we have enjoyed Beat Saber for what it is and will continue to measure its improvements as we have high hopes for this new VR title.
In a VR world dominated by FPS games, its a refresher to see a game like Beat Saber do well.