They say variety is the spice of life, yet when it comes to music games on the Oculus Quest, there is already a good number of similar rhythm-based games out there. Very few of them take a completely different approach to appear different to Beat Saber’s playbook. So when I first saw Audio Trip I had the common knee-jerk reaction of ‘not another one’, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt, thanks to this supplied review code, and I am glad I did.
I find rhythm games where you have to slash or connect with objects work the best. It is the underlying beat that gets you moving on the dance floor or sets your foot tapping. So as long as you’re physically connecting with a beat marker, you’re halfway there to having a fun music game in my book. The other half is visuals, style and the library of music tracks to choose from. Many fall flat on this latter half, however Audio Trip manages to do better than some similar looking games in this genre.
On entry into the game, you find yourself standing in a stadium-like arena, with a dashboard display in front of you to scroll through the various music tracks on offer. To the left there is a wall of information that I am sure not many will bother reading, especially when you can just select a track in front of you and jump right into seeing what the game has to offer.
Usually, there is a hand-holding tutorial to teach you a game’s main gameplay mechanic, however, in Audio Trip these are presented to you in a more lightweight way. A wireframe person in front of you acts out the movements you need to be making, but I found this too distracting, and I immediately reached into the game’s settings menu to turn it off.
As game mechanics go, Audio Trip starts off similar to a few other VR music games: a number of objects float towards you in time with the music track, you must touch these with the correct coloured controller in each hand in order to score well in the game. As the music track progresses, new objects are spawned, such as barriers which you must duck or dodge with your body, directional objects that you must mirror your hand movements towards, drum-like objects that you must smash and finally there are also ribbons of light that you must keep your hands inside of – similar to the game Synth Riders.
In fact, speaking of which. The game does lean towards Synth Riders’ playbook than the one from Beat Saber, however, I find Audio Trip adds a few additional movement mechanics which results in a more enjoyable experience that doesn’t over-complicate its mechanics and visuals. What’s also important is the tracks and the beat maps made for them. They lean more towards the rhythm and flow of dance, rather than the flapping of arms you find yourself doing in a session of Synth Riders. In short, Audio Trip feels like it’s had more care and thought put into each required move in each music track, which makes it more of an enjoyable experience over its similar-looking competitors.
What makes any music game more enjoyable is it’s music tracklist. Audio Trip’s 12 track lineup may be lacking in overall substance but it does do well with some recognisable music tracks from the likes of Skrillex, Zedd, deadmau5 and Lady Gaga, whilst some less known tracks are also decent for anyone interested in current electronic dance music. There is also some extra scope with each track in the game by selecting one of the three difficulty levels, which drops new objects and more challenging monovers with each increase of difficulty.
As custom tracks go in Audio Trip, the in-game editor called the Choreographer allows you the ability to create and share your own beat maps for the existing music in the game. Using the same tools used by the developers, you get to navigate and play through the track and create your own routine by assigning each of the available objects in each hand and pulling the trigger to place them in space, all whilst the track is playing.
Visually, the game looks good. It doesn’t go overboard with neon and try to be like the music game that’s likely to be in your game library. I found Audio Trip to carry just enough visuals without overwhelming you with unnecessary lights, strobes and background objects that can so easily distract you. This allows you to focus on the many beat objects coming at you, which are much clearer, and that results in more enjoyable gameplay.
Audio Trip’s multiplayer comes in the form of a locally-based pass and play leaderboards. With this mode selected, you next select a track your party wants to play and then at the end of each player session you get to enter your name onto the party leaderboard, then pass the headset to the next contender to see if they can beat your score. It’s fairly lightweight in this instance, but extra multiplayer modes are promised in a future update.
On the surface, Audio Trip may appear to be just another one of those music games on Oculus Quest, however once you experience it first-hand you soon get to know it is able to stand up on its own feet very well. It is desperately in need of more tracks in its library, and I just hope it’s developers continue to support its players with regular tracks updates, with the same carefully placed beat maps as found in the current lineup, as this has been Audio Trip’s main selling point. Making you move perfectly with the beat an enjoyable one.