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Review: Synth Riders (Oculus Rift)By Chris125 At 20.05.2020 14:54

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A simple concept. The left hand corresponds to one colour. The right hand corresponds to another. Hit the notes as they approach with the correct hand. Then throw in golden notes, requiring both hands to be together. Toss in 'rail' notes with a path that has to be followed and finally for good measure set up various obstacles that have the user ducking and diving to the beat. What does all that add up to? The answer is: a lot of fun. In fact, so much fun that it isn't unusual that a play during a quick lunch-break in work, the experience will soon turn into multiple hours, which will make you need a cold shower after what is an intense workout.

What it does so well in concept is what games like Guitar Hero in the past captured, which made that genre such a phenomenon. Difficulty is tailored precisely to the level required for the individual user. Want a quick casual 15 minutes to chill? Perfect. The easy difficulty will reduce the notes and obstacles, and let the 33 original pulsing synth and electronic tracks wash over. In the mood for something radically different? Then switch to master difficulty and find arms flailing to keep up, and the need to practice, practice, and practice in order to get better getting an increase. It is simply a truly addictive experience.

Not to mention this is definitely one for fitness fanatics to pick up. With some tracks racing along at 200bpm, there is plenty to get the heart racing here, and it is awesome that developers Kluge Interactive added a fitness tracker watch integrated into the game using YUR Fit, in order that it will give some semblance of how the experience is adding to one's fitness regime. Obviously there's a limit to this, but the effort is pleasing even still.

Graphically of course there isn't a massive amount going on here that will set the pulses racing for VR aficionados. However, that isn't to say this is an ugly title - in fact the visual aesthetic captures the mood of the synth genre perfectly. The pulsing lights and immense voids that zoom past as the player dances to the beat give the whole thing a real disco vibe, and just increase the immersion immeasurably. A most recent DLC pack to the game, Electro Swing Essentials, adds a further expertly curated 10 tracks to the already packed song-list.

This new DLC priced is brilliant at capturing a modern twist on an old-school style of swing - there really are tracks that get the dancing shoes going, and allow the beat to drive the gameplay. In many ways that sums up one of the big advantages Synth Riders has over Beat Saber - the former makes the player really feel the beat of the music when they are bopping notes and shuffling their hips.

There is full multiplayer included, along with leaderboards between the community. It must be said the experience of multiplayer was limited, with few servers available to play on. That said, there isn't much loss by playing solo, and indeed having a friend to play along is likely to prove more fun overall. Obviously one of the big motivations for purchasing Synth Riders or any such rhythm title is the ability to craft a personalised playlist of tracks. Thankfully, the process of adding custom songs is incredibly straightforward.

Granted it could have been more streamlined to do so within the actual title, rather than requiring some fiddling with third-party programs. Still, this doesn't detract from generally how easy this process is, and being able to add in custom tracks and have these incredibly professionally integrated into the gameplay without a hitch is rather remarkable, and provides the title with a significant level of replayability.

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Final Score
Available on pretty much all of the virtual reality headsets, there is not really any excuse not to pick up this addictive and exhilarating rhythm game. Polished now to a truly premium product, it stands proud alongside other competitors in the genre, and is a compelling opportunity to lift up that headset and go for a dance. The shipped tracks combine a diverse and perfectly curated blend of synth and electronic music (with a bit of rock thrown in there) from the likes of Parov Stelar and Jamie Berry. A game for fitness, a game for fun, [i]Synth Riders[/i] is worth picking up for any VR owner.



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