Saturday, February 20, 2021

Audio Trip

Audio Trip is a VR rhythm game that focuses on dancing or cardio.

Audio Trip is similar to other rhythm games in terms of you needing to hit different types of notes as they come near you. There are regular notes that you can just touch. Those look like a 2d triangle. Then there are directional notes that you have to swipe in shown direction. The last type of note is a drum that you simply have to hit hard. Apart from these notes you need to hit there are also long notes that you need to follow. Obstacles are also part of the game and you need to avoid them with both your headset and your controllers which is something players from other rhythm games may not be used to.

Unlike other rhythm games this game doesn't show you any feedback while in-game. So you just hit a note and you either know you hit it or missed it. I personally do not have problem with it as I actually know if it was a good hit or not while playing but was certainly something I didn't expect. This though can make the player more immersed in the game.

The game is combo based when it comes to score but how do you actually get rated is a bit of a mystery to me. At the end of a song you can get 1 to 5 stars and you get percentage of how many notes you hit and how your accuracy was (you can also see where your controllers were hitting the notes). There is also a quote that is probably meant to encourage you but most of the time will do the exact opposite (or I am a really bad Audio Trip player).

The songlist, being rather short currently, features songs I'd put into 'pop' and EDM genre and it seems that it brings known and licensed songs (I never heard any of the songs but it seems people know the songs, unlike songs from other rhythm games). Each song has a short version and a long version and has 4 difficulties. Three are regular 'dance choreographies' (Beginner, Regular, Expert) while the last one named cardio is meant for cardio exercise. The songs are well charted and the way the notes are placed will make you dance if you follow them well. The cardio charts are done so you change movements and make you reach even further than the regular charts. They are designed in a way that you move in a given rhythm and you don't need to do anything too complex which would break the rhythm. While the cardio charts are less complex they still require a certain skill level to be played - not recommended for beginners.

As for a learning curve, this game may be the worst from the games I tried to play. I haven't played beginner levels so I cannot say how difficult these are to play for a beginner. There is a big difference between Regular and Expert though. All the songs on Regular have a similar level of difficulty and same goes to Expert which means there is not much that can help a player transition from one to another difficulty. I can imagine that players without much experience playing rhythm games may be stuck at one difficulty level for quite a long time.

The graphics is good and polished. Each song has a different environment that is animated. The notes look nice, there is an effect that leads your way from note to note and there are other visual effects that happen based on how well you do in the game. The animated environment is not distracting but is really nice to look at if you have the time while playing. The menu area could be more 'vibrant' but it's not bad.

What I have problems with is the UI. Apart from it not looking great and being rather confusing, it is pretty bad to operate it even for the low amount of content there is in the game currently. It is touch based UI which I don't think is the best option in VR. Since it is though in VR I'd welcome if it would allow us to be used the way we use our touch screens on tablets or smart phones. It was not meant for left-handed players.

The game allows for custom choreographies and custom songs but it feels like it's not easily accessible for players that don't like to try hard making something work. The community around this game is small even though very dedicated.

Audio Trip is a nicely done game visually and game mechanics wise with a focus on something that is rare - actual dance moves, movement that flow in general. It lacks in scoring, UI, quality of life features and mainly content - both official and community one. This is the main disadvantage of the game which makes its replayability lower and also makes pretty difficult to even stumble upon this game.

If you are someone who wants to play for accuracy you will probably find out quite soon that the game is quite forgiving and achieving high accuracy percentage is easy. This may turn you away from the game very soon.

If you are looking for a game that will make you move Audio Trip is the game to try out. It is the only game I played that actually made my core sore after playing the game. I'd also put it on a list of games that require you to use your legs. You will squat and you can move your legs to the beat. It forces you to move more than Synth Riders (Rhythm mode) or Beat Saber for example in terms of range of movement. The way songs are charted you can start dancing even if you have no dancing experience. The game features cardio difficulty which makes you work out even more (you don't need as much brain processing power for this mode and can focus on exercise).

I personally like this game very much and would recommend it to anyone who wants to move in VR in a way that makes them dance and enjoy the experience. The game though feels like a unfinished product - it is still in early access - and currently its replayability value is not as high if you are used to playing different songs. What we get to play though shows a lot of care and dedication and I hope this game can become one of the more known and played rhythm games.

S'Tsung (stsungjp @ Twitter)