ArtPulse (PSVR) Review

VR is a great platform for you to get all creative and express yourself in a way not possible in real life. A while back I played and reviewed CoolPaintr VR, a game in which I recreated a 3D statue of Spyro the Dragon despite having no creative bones in my body – since then, there have been a number of art-based VR experiences to play and dabble with. ArtPulse is different as you’re not technically creating statues or drawings, you’re creating music by placing various shapes and objects within a massive sandbox environment.

ArtPulse is the second PSVR title from developer VRKiwi (MeKiwi Oy), the first being Cave Digger: Riches (which I’ll have a review for very soon). Also, just like they did with Cave Digger, the developers have plans to introduce a few new mechanics in order to enhance the overall experience sometime in the future. However, as is stands today, is it worth picking up if you want a casual experience within VR? Let’s take a look…

ArtPulse 1

Obviously the first thing I do is write our name!

ArtPulse is quite unlike any other music-based experience I’ve had whilst within VR, acting as a drawing experience but with dynamic music based upon your creations (similar to the concept of de Blob). Basically, you’re placed within a massive open space which you can easily fly around, the backdrop of which can be chosen from a few ‘dark’ themes, and you choose a ‘base music track’ which you’d like to experiment with. Then, utilising one of a number of drawing tools, you draw various shapes, throw objects around the room, and generally go crazy with whatever colours and designs you fancy.

Not only does each shape dynamically affect the music, such as wireframed cubes providing percussion-based upon its size and a paintbrush making tones as if your conducting music, but the colour you choose also changes the rhythm, pitch, and sound. So, within seconds of arriving in the dark, empty void, you’ll be hearing music you’ve created based upon the doodles you’ve thrown out there. 

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As a relaxation tool, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed just jumping into the game, sitting back, and clearing my mind as I create dynamic music when I feel stressed. It may not be a game you’ll spend hours at a time within, but it is one which will calm you down and deliver a unique experience each time you try it out.

artpulse - 0

Cinematic mode lets you sit back and enjoy the show!

Auto mode?
If you’re not feeling the music today, or you just want to jump in and relax without having to create the shapes, you can enable the Cinematic Mode. This mode acts as an equaliser for a dynamically created piece of music as the game will randomly place various shapes in different colours and sizes all around you, filling the void with music and bright colours. If you still want to join in, you still have access to all your tools to add whatever you want to the mix, but this mode is really for you to just sit back and listen.

Trophies
As I know a number of ‘trophy hunters’ read my reviews, I thought it would be relevant to mention that ArtPulse has a nice easy platinum. You don’t need any sort of guide or help as each trophy has a clear description and you’ll most likely end up unlocking them without even realising it. If you’re specifically going for the trophies, you could probably grab them all within 30 minutes – but obviously, that’s not the purpose of the game as its main draw is to offer you a place to relax when you want to escape for a while.

ArtPulse 3

The tool selection isn’t the biggest but each one is fun to experiment with.

Limitations
As of today, March 2020,  there’s a limited amount of creativity within ArtPulse. Sure, every experience is different due to the dynamic music you create, but the toolkit you use to create the tunes isn’t the biggest. Other than drawing cubes, freestyling, and throwing spinning tops, you also have stars that act like boomerangs, giant pulsating pyramids, black holes and a few other variations. Each of these, other than the stars, can be adjusted in size to alter their effect, and everything can be re-coloured as mentioned above. 

There are six base songs to choose between, each offering a different style and effect to the shapes you create, but the developers are looking at adding more – they’re even looking at allowing you to submit your own music according to their roadmap. Now, I’m not sure if that means you send your music to them and they officially add it or if they mean it’ll work ala Guitar Hero clones on PC and have the game adapt to your own music files? They’re also planning to offer more customisation options which I imagine means they will expand the tools available to create your music. 

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Finally, one thing I noticed which was missing was the ability to save your creations. Now, I know the music is dynamic and every time you go into the experience you’ll end up hearing something new, but what if you’ve just created something that looks or sounds great? There’s currently no way to save that particular scene so you can return to it later on. 

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
If you’re looking for a simple, yet dynamic VR application to relax within, ArtPulse is an easy recommendation. Even if you don’t feel like manually laying shapes in order to create your own dynamically-created beats, you can turn on the Cinematic Mode and sit back as the game randomly generates it all for you. Although the selection of tools and base music is currently not that large, the team does have plans on expanding the experience with updates – as they did with their previous title. ArtPulse is a very niche product for people looking for a particular release from the real world, it’s a very relaxing and therapeutic experience. 

**ArtPulse also fully supports the 3dRudder device. We don’t actually have a unit to test personally, but the creator of the peripheral posted the following trailer a few days ago:**

A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

ArtPulse

£9.99
6.5

Final Score

6.5/10

The Good:

  • - Very relaxing
  • - Dynamically creates music based upon your creations
  • - Very colourful contrast of the shapes and the dark backdrops
  • - Most of the shapes, sizes, and colours have a different tones, pitches, and sounds
  • - The developers are planning on adding more features and content

The Bad:

  • - As it is right now, it seems a little expensive for the number of tools and base songs included
  • - Very niche product which won't appeal to everyone (doesn't affect the score but may affect the perception to people)
  • - No save function for your designs
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