A genre that I would love to see more of in VR is the music genre. We have had titles like Happy Drummer and Hatsune Miku (although Hatsune Miku was more a virtual concert than an actual music game) and now we have been given Audio Beats, a drumming simulation VR game with probably the best controls I’ve seen in this type of game. The game does have a major flaw though which impacts on it’s longevity and just how much fun you’ll get out of it. That being said, Audio Beats from Famiku and Gamepoch is one of the best music genre games you can currently buy for PSVR in my opinion.
**As usual, PSVR images are taken from the PS4 or a recording from the social screen – in VR the image is much clearer and in VR**
Controls-wise, you use both move controllers, which in-game translates to you holding a couple of drumsticks, which are customisable in looks (one of which resembles a lightsabre). Think Guitar Hero, but in VR – there are flying shapes coming towards you which you must respond to by hitting or holding a certain drum as it passes a marker in front of you. However, it isn’t just a hit or miss situation, depending on how accurate you hit the notes you will get things like Miss, Okay, Good, Perfect etc…
If you have ever played Theatrhythm on the 3DS then you will be used to flick controls, Audio Beats also has these. Basically, some notes coming down the line will have arrows on them and as you hit the drum pad you must flick the controller in the direction of the arrow as you lift away from it. For example, if it was pointing up then you would hit the pad then flick it up quickly in order to get the points. These also worked perfectly with no response issues.
Where it gets interesting is when you crank up the difficulty and it begins to introduce the beats where you must hit two drums at the same time or even where you will be hitting and holding one note as it moves across the drums, requiring you to seamlessly pass it off to the other hand whilst hitting other notes with your free hand. It can get pretty complicated but it’s really satisfying when you hit all of the notes.
This brings me to the best part of the game, the actual controls and responsiveness of the controllers – they are perfect. I literally never missed a beat! The drum pads react perfectly, your distance from the pads within VR is perfect, you can clearly see everything and if you miss one of the beats then it’s just because you need more practice and not because the game is being cheap with you.
In terms of visuals, as I said above, the game is so clean – everything looks sharp and pristine – even in VR. You have a few customisable options for your drumsticks and the notes but you can’t seem to change the backgrounds within this initial version. However, at least the one you get by default keeps it simple so you can see what you are doing – games like GH: Live with their music videos playing in the background used to put me off because there was so much going on.
I mentioned above that there is one major flaw with the game which could affect its longevity, unfortunately, it’s the music. The main mechanic of a music genre game is its music – If you take a look at Rock Band or Guitar Hero, even though they cost a lot more than this title, they came with 60+ songs in their initial game with hundreds more via free and paid-for DLC. Personally, I have over 400 songs in Rock Band on PS4. Audio Beats has a set-list of five songs – don’t get me wrong, they are fun songs to play albeit unknown songs which aren’t well known over here in the west, but they were still very fun to play and listen to.
The problem is, after about 20-25 minutes, you have played through all five songs and the only option now is to replay the same songs with increased difficulties or just to try and beat your own score. There isn’t a career mode or multiplayer within the title, it’s literally just picking a song and playing it. There is an option to import songs, which loads up PSN, but there is no DLC available. I’ve taken a look at the Hong Kong PSN store and it’s the same over there – it has the base game but no DLC. If the developers could team up with either some Western or Asian bands and get more tracks added to the game, maybe a pack of five songs for free and more popular songs via a paid-for add-on, then it would make the game more attractive and give it a longer life.
Alternatively, if they could add some kind of Beat Creation Station, so we can import our tracks and create our own beat layout – that would be awesome! If it could then be shared with the world so people can download other beat overlays for their songs then this would become the best music genre game on consoles to date.
In terms of replayability, as I said above, with the roster of five songs, things do get a little repetitive unless you crank up the difficulty and try and beat your scores as each difficulty have its own leaderboard. For me, playing the same song on a different difficulty changes the game as these games are mainly about the music but also about the mechanics, and increasing the difficulty changes the beats you have to follow. However, don’t jump straight into the harder difficulties as it gets very, very hard – at some points, it feels impossible if I’m being honest! Although it does give you a good workout as you frantically bash the imaginary drums.
One last issue I had was with the trophies – they are impossible. They are all based on getting a perfect score in all five of the songs at all difficulties. I know it’s not just me – the criteria are impossible and nobody will ever platinum this game. So, if you’re looking for a game that you have a chance of getting the plat for, don’t grab Audio Beats – if you’re looking for a fun music game with plenty of challenge and perfect controls then yeah, this is a great game to pick up.
Audio Beats is a great example of what a music genre game in VR should look and feel like which is sadly let down by the limited amount of tracks on offer in the base game. This would have been resolved if there was confirmation of DLC coming to the game, but as of yet, nothing has been mentioned. The controls work perfectly, the music is a great fit for this type of game and the various difficulty settings will keep you busy as you try and learn the tracks and better your score. The only issue with the game is the impossible trophies and the lack of more available tracks.
- - Looks really clear and sharp in VR
- - The move controllers and drums work perfectly in sync
- - Small amount of songs, but the ones you have are a good match for the gameplay
- - Fun gameplay mechanics i've not seen outside of the 3DS (flicking the controller in a direction as you drum it)
- - Limited number of tracks with no DLC out at the moment
- - The platinum is impossible due to the difficulty of the criteria to unlock
- - Can lose it's appeal after about 30 minutes if you don't like the tracks included