Audio Trip is out now in Early Access on Steam and we’ve spent a few days putting this latest VR rhythm action game through its paces. Read on to find out how it fares!
“Does VR really need another rhythm action game?”, you might be asking yourself right now. It seems like VR developers really love to make these types of games, especially given the runaway success of Beat Saber. I myself have played games like the aforementioned Beat Saber, BoxVR, Audica, Audioshield, and Dance Central VR. So really, I do mean it when I say that all of the niches that you could possibly fill in this subgenre have already basically been filled.
Well, all except for one, apparently: a decidedly chill rhythm action game that’s all about the finer parts of ‘flow’ and ‘free expression’, while also somehow forcing you to do stretchy aerobics in your pajamas. That’s, more or less, exactly the missing link between all other existing VR rhythm games that Audio Trip, the first game by developer Kinemotik, manages to fill.
Before I get ahead of myself, let me back this review right up. I absolutely hated the first hour I spent inside of Audio Trip. I thought the hands were too small and I struggled to reach any of the notes as they sped past me. I thought the notes themselves, especially the ribbons, were erratically placed and the game was poorly explained. When I kept failing songs on Beginner mode (which didn’t even feel too different from the other, harder modes), I felt like the fun had been vacuumed out before I even got a chance to really get into my groove. The tutorial didn’t help much either, sort of pushing me towards each individual element example-by-example, without further context, and then sending me back off.
But then I figured out the trick.
Audio Trip VR Rhythm Gameplay Footage:
What turned my whole experience around (for the better) was going into the options menu and turning on the little virtual dance instructor. She stands in front of you and performs the moves that the game expects you to perform on your own. Without her, the game is frantic to an almost unplayable degree. But with her, everything clicks into place. I also think that, before I had the proper instruction, I’d simply been approaching Audio Trip from the wrong angle.
When you’re so used to playing games like Beat Saber and BoxVR like I am, it becomes second nature to hit notes (or in this case, gems) as aggressively and skillfully as you can. Audio Trip, instead, is really all about having your hands in the right place at the right time, sort of like how you’d approach Dance Central VR. When approached correctly, what ends up happening is you get something of an aerobic dance class out of Audio Trip, with more focus on aerobics than on actually dancing. But also, you can dance if you want to. You can leave your friends behind.
Feature-wise, Audio Trip is a bit light in its current state. There are a grand total of 10 songs, playable in three modes (Beginner, Regular, and Expert), and each one is assigned a custom-made world that you move through over the course of the song. Its soundtrack boasts a decent, albeit limited blend of electronic and pop staples licensed out from recognizable artists like Skrillex, Lada Gaga, Rafaël Frost, and a few others. One thing that stood out here was the Quick Trip option, which lets you play a much shorter version of a song.
The worlds, which are definitely beautiful and nice to look at, are not related to gameplay in any direct way. As such, they’re overshadowed by the gameplay itself eating so much of your focus. The dramatic backdrops can even be distracting at times, generally when a track arrangement starts to become complex and the ‘chill’ aspect of Audio Trip is diminished in favor of focusing on landing notes right.
That said, it would have been cool to see the gameplay visuals correspond more with the backdrop, ala Tetris Effect. I’d even say that it’s a legitimate shame that the clear opportunity to mix gameplay and style was missed here, seeing as how much effort was evidently put into the design of each world.
Further, the notes in Audio Trip don’t correspond with any kind of sound effects when you land them. The lack thereof really makes the gameplay in Audio Trip fall flat faster if you aren’t already having fun finding your own rhythm. Sound cues, as a psychological component, are a significant part of what made Beat Saber so compelling and appealing in the first place. It’s no coincidence that the makers of BoxVR, arguably one of Beat Saber’s only meaningful competitors, finally added their own to match each hit.
Audio Trip Early Access Trailer:
Audio Trip Early Access Review Final Verdict
I have to hand it to Kinemotik for making a VR rhythm game that manages to add something new to a genre I thought had already been done to death and back. Even in Early Access form, Audio Trip is quite a bit of fun once you get accustomed to playing it, which is made far easier when you follow along with the virtual dance instructor. That said, it isn’t without its shortcomings. Even though it gets some slack for being in Early Access, it doesn’t immediately feel as approachable or fun as it could. The world environments and the gameplay itself are in conflict with each other at times, and the lack of hit sounds is an obvious improvement in the making.
Final Score: TBD
This review was conducted on an Oculus Rift S using the Early Access Steam version of the game. Since it is still in Early Access a score is not rendered at this time.
You can now get Audio Trip on Steam in Early Access for $20. It runs natively on all major PC VR headsets.