Remember when Nintendo launched the Wii, and there were all those stories of injuries and players breaking things by swinging the motion controllers? Well, imagine playing one of those games blind-folded.
That’s VR game Beat Sabre in a nutshell. First time I played I hit the cat with a PlayStation Move controller, quickly realising my living room needed to be rearranged for these types of games. After moving some furniture and banishing the cat to the bedroom, it wasn’t long before I became hooked and fully aware of my inadequate fitness level.
Beat Sabre could be described as Guitar Hero meets Star Wars’ Sabre battles. It’s a rhythm game that’s easy to pick-up and understand yet tough to master. It’s also secretly a full-body workout executed to a diverse mix of EDM.
You are equipped with two sabers – one red, the other blue. As the music plays, red and blue cubes move towards you in time with the music. Each cube has an arrow indicating which way it needs to be sliced. You do your best interpretation of a Jedi, slicing up, down, left and right, chaining blocks together with the corresponding coloured saber, achieving combos while attempting to set high scores.
Bombs and red electric walls also appear as obstacles for you to physically avoid by leaning left, right and crouching. Thankfully the difficulty settings begin with an Easy warm up working towards the hectic Expert setting. For Expert, only fitness buffs with great reflexes need apply.
Beat Sabre’s original music tracks are the standard fare of upbeat electro, dubstep and drum and bass. Yet each track is different enough so that it stands out and feels unique. My favourite track is “Escape.” What begins as a slow burn with female vocals erupts into fast instrumentals before repeating over.
There’s something extraordinary about the way Beat Sabre captures that feeling of moving to music. Maybe it’s because the game requires full-body movement or maybe it’s because I enjoy the soundtrack, but there were moments when I was slicing in time to the beat that I would get the same sensation/satisfaction I used to get from being in the pit at gigs – in my youth.
Or to keep it gaming related, it’s like pulling off a 900 in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 as Millencolin or Rage Against the Machine played in the background.
Beat Sabre has 15 tracks total which may not seem like a lot of content. It is possible to play through all tracks in under an hour. The quest for high scores and that perfect run is what adds replay value. Plus several weeks ago the first Music Pack dropped as DLC which offers an additional ten tracks. You can purchase this pack for just under $20 AUD.
There’s also a lengthy campaign mode which involves following branching paths of challenges that increase in speed and difficulty at a reasonable pace. The campaign works best as a training ground forcing you to learn the advanced skills required for the higher difficulty settings. To shake things up further, modifiers add a list of unique challenges to each track; they include things like faster songs, disappearing arrows on the cubes and instant fail to name a few.
Over the five hours I have so far spent with Beat Saber I came to the very obvious conclusion that this game is an absolute blast. It can be exhilarating, debilitating and daunting all at the same time. Yet I was always motivated to come back to play more or force the VR headset onto someone else and make them experience it for the first time. It’s true that there is not a great deal of content, especially for the $44.95 AUD price tag. Still, the thrill that comes from slicing cubes in VR to drum and bass tracks makes Beat Saber one of PSVR’s best and most addictive titles.
Man of Many received a copy of Beat Sabre courtesy of the publisher.