Thanks to the Oculus Quest there has been a library of room-scale games to enjoy whilst having the freedom of being untethered. These are all well and good, but at times room space can be limited or maybe you just want to enjoy a game that can be enjoyed whilst being stationary or seated. Thumper is one such game that doesn’t require a room free from furniture and pets. Hooray, a stationary game on the Oculus Quest!
Thumper has its roots buried deep in rhythm-based action games. These games don’t usually require much physical motion to play them, that is unless you’re rocking out in Guitar Hero or striking a pose in a session of Just Dance. Thumper is as static as it comes, but that’s no bad thing.
You play a shiny metallic-looking space beetle, which travels along an endless path that stretches out ahead of you. Along this path, you have to tap in time with markers along the path, grind around sharp turns or avoid obstacles all together by jumping over them or smashing through them with your metallic wings and outer shell.
Whilst all these oncoming challenges play out, around you is a surreal psychedelic wave of objects and shapes that move around the track that you’re hurtling down at great speed. At times the background can blend into the track’s colours, which also adds to the game’s higher difficulty levels.
There are nine levels in the game, each of them are broken up into smaller segments. This is great, because if you fail to achieve a tricky button combo – and you most definitely will – you have the ability to start at the last segment instead of restarting the whole level again. This eases the frustration and encourages that ‘just one more go’ mentality that keeps you progressing through the many segments and levels in the game.
At the end of each
Your journey through each level is nicely balanced with early levels covering your basic moves whilst newer levels introduce new moves along the way. This gives a sense of not being totally overwhelmed by the controls at the very beginning, as each new move is introduced when you face a new obstacle on the track.
Controlling your beetle is done simply through the Touch controllers whilst you view your little beetle in a third-person view. By using one analogue stick and one face button, or a combination of the two, you are able to dodge, jump, grind side walls and pull out your wings to float over nasty spikes that lay in your way. This means you can simply sit stationary with your Quest headset on and play this game without flapping your arms or require any space at all.
The game’s visuals and audio remind me of the cult classic console and PC game of REZ, a game I am sure influenced the developer’s two-man team. Similarities aside, they have still managed to create a timeless aesthetic that seamlessly fits well with the game’s space beetle main character.
The game’s music that plays out in the background was created by the developers themselves. The music and your actions feel a little disconnected than compared to a game of Beat Saber
What was originally designed as a non-VR based game, Thumper does manage to achieve a compelling twitch-based VR game. Sure, it doesn’t utilise what VR could offer, but amongst the noise of room-scale VR games on the Oculus Store, it can feel like a breath of fresh air just being stationary whilst smashing your space beetle through the challenging levels in Thumper.