I’ll let you in on a bit of a secret; I actually really don’t like VR rhythm games.
Yes, I know, it takes bravery to come forward with such a statement in the midst of the industry’s fever pitch obsession with the genre, but I’ve Beat Sabered and Pistol Whipped — heck I’ve even Synth Ridered — and it’s never done much for me. I accept that this is a ‘me’ thing; in fact I couldn’t be happier that people are getting fit and having fun in VR. But only BoxVR ever managed to sink its mitts into me thanks to its fitness focus, and that wasn’t for long.
I have an inkling suspicion, though, that OhShape will be a different story.
This clean, almost clinical mix of Tetris and pulse-pounding VR rhythm game is a more instant, accessible iteration into the field of active, rhythmic VR gaming. You match shapes cut into rapidly approaching blocks, occasionally switching out to instead pluck coins from mid-air, duck out of the way of walls and even punch through them. It’s a little like a greatest hits of the genre itself, albeit with its own twist on top.
Shape shifting is the focus, and rightly so. The key is a little leniency; OhShape obviously can’t tell where your elbows and feet really are, so it relies on your head and hands to inform the shape of your body, without any of the frustrating near misses I often encounter in a game like BoxVR. Obviously there’s only so far current VR tracking can take this concept — and only so safe you can be dancing around with an expensive blindfold on — so don’t expect to be cutting anything too elaborate.
But that’s not to say the game’s too easy. While I definitely found it faster to pick up on Easy and Medium difficulty modes than I have with, say, Pistol Whip, the tension quickly mounts on some Medium songs and most Hard songs.
In fact, in demanding sequences, it’s just a little too tough to tell what the next shape will be until it’s right in your face. It doesn’t help that some blocks are colored red, which is the same color the screen flashes if you fail a move. In the heat of a song, it sets off a distracting alarm in your brain when you haven’t actually done anything wrong. Overall levels require more memorization than quick reactions, though repeated playthroughs and option tweaking will inevitably lessen that pain.
And you’ll definitely be repeating these songs, as OhShape’s Beat Saber-esque list of tracks is typically small for an indie game just finding its feet (just look at how big Beat Games had to get before Green Day came on board). There’s a healthy sampling of soundalikes here; none that will have you repeating lyrics in your head (HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS, HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS), but energetic enough to get the heart pumping.
And that’s key, because OhShape feels like a genuinely authentic fitness game. The variety of moves and steps involved with even just one track can get your heart rate up, and several songs in one go definitely burns off the calories faster than a lot of its contemporaries.
Arguably OhShape’s strongest point, though, is its versatility as a platform. Most VR rhythm games come with modifiers and extra options to enhance the fun, but OhShape goes above and beyond to make sure it’s catering to your skill set and preferences.
For starters, there’s the obligatory No Fail mode, but the game even allows you to tweak the speed of tracks back and forth to a small degree. Need to learn the patterns in Hard Mode? Slow the song down a fraction to give yourself a little more time to adjust. You can even change how accurate you have to be with your shapes and switch to a ‘Small Room’ mode if you’re worried about shifting too far to one side and smacking your head on a wall (which, crucially, was a big concern for me).
To top it all off, there’s even custom song support — yes, even on Oculus Quest — and level editing software for you to make your own tracks or share them online. At a time where Beat Saber’s modding future is being called into question, OhShape appears refreshingly restraint free.
OhShape Review Final Verdict
I don’t really have a lot of bad things to say about OhShape, then. It’s a smart, straight, no-nonsense rhythm game with an energetic core mechanic and plenty of options to tailor the experience to your liking. There’s a few presentation hiccups and the initial track list could be more inspiring, but these are minor and very fixable issues. If you’re growing tired of slashing or shooting beats in VR, then you should definitely try throwing some shapes here instead.