Developer / Publisher – Arrowiz / Shanghai Chenyou Information Techno
Price – US $19.99 / EU €19.99 / UK £15.99 / AU $24.95
Release date – December 18th, 2018
Control Method – 2 x Move controllers
Pro Patch – No
Digital only – Yes
Reviewed on – PSVR/PS4 Pro
With Beat Saber now available for every major VR headset and is one of the biggest games of 2018, it only makes sense that the rhythm genre may see some extra attention because of all that hype. Beats Fever’s recent North American release may be seen as capitalizing on that hype but in fact has been around since January of 2017 seeing numerous updates and ports and now arrives in a very timely fashion to PSVR headsets around the world giving us a familiar, yet unique look at the VR rhythm genre.
It’s VR and rhythm so you need two tracked motion controllers as you have to make contact with incoming beats in the form of some crystal looking objects. In front of you is a sort of glass panel and when the beats hit that panel, you need to hit those contact points at the exact same time to keep the rhythm going. Tracks offer a variety of difficulties for any skill level and the shapes come at you in a few fun ways to keep you on your toes, especially on the harder difficulties when both hands are performing completely different acts allowing those people with great peripheral vision and hand/eye coordination to excel. There are 40 licensed tracks to play through and I mean play through. If you miss a beat, the song still plays on as if nothing happens, but you can still see a fair bit of effort went into the timing here because when you fall into a groove and matching beat for beat, you feel like you are completing the song.
There are 4 environments available to play in with each serving as nothing more then background distractions. That said, they are good -looking cityscapes and offer up some decent static backgrounds that lend themselves well to the “action” with the only thing changing on them being ambient lighting effects. The notes come at you from high and low and take the form of some crystalline looking shapes with some being linked together into lines you must drag your batons along that glass panel with. When the shapes get close, a reticle appears on the glass that gets larger the closer they get, and you need to tap or bring to your baton to the glass at the right moment whereupon little word pop up like “perfect” or “great” to help show you if your timing may be a little off. For a budget rhythm game, the visuals do their job.
On the audio side there is around 40 licensed songs to choose from across a wide variety of genres so while it may take a little bit to get through them all, you are bound to find a couple favorites to come back to. Each song’s difficulty is highlighted in the menu and cannot be changed so look carefully and pick a few of the easy and medium ones before you try the harder difficulties. Unfortunately, because these are licensed tracks, the notes you hit don’t complete any of songs and they play whether you hit all the notes or only a handful of them which is a bit unfortunate as that would raise the stakes a bit, but with that said, the timing of the notes is spot on so it’s kind of a give and take sort of thing.
The good thing is that you can’t fail song so no matter how good or bad you do, once you pick a song you get to listen and enjoy the whole thing which I did appreciate. There is no campaign or any other challenge other then selecting a song and just trying your best. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but what I did miss was an introductory stage or brief tutorial explaining exactly how contacting with the notes worked. As far as I can tell, you can just drag your hands across that screen to contact the notes, but I messed around and tried to swipe them (ala Beat Saber) and even tried to use my batons as drum sticks. Either of those methods works but just holding your hands out and lining up the batons to the beats seems to be the way to go and it works. The games harder difficulties are challenging to the point of impossibility, though I suspect those that take the time to get good and memorize tracks will get those top scores. There are no leaderboards that I could find, just an end screen when a song finishes that displays your latest ranking and once you complete a song, that ranking will appear on the songs in the main menu, so you can try to do better the next time. The last issue would be the lack of physicality compared to games like Beat Saber and even Happy Drummer as instead you are more just moving your hands around to match the notes and while the harder tracks do require you to move your arms a fair bit, it lacks the visceral thrill off smashing or hitting notes or objects.
So where does this stand in the pantheon of VR rhythm games… right now I’d say it’s actually close to the top beating out most others with the exception of the current champ ‘Beat Saber’. This is not supposed to be Beat Saber but a variation on the rhythm genre and overall, it works better then most. There is loads of content compared to just about every game out there with licensed music and tons of challenge on the harder difficulties. It looks good and the gameplay is solid and after a few songs, I was into the groove and having a fun time wading through all the songs in the game.
What would I pay? $20 is a solid price for this game. It’s not as tactile as Beat Saber, but it’s not supposed to be. The 40-track library is extensive and covers a wide variety of genres and the harder difficulties even made me sweat a little. Bottom line is if you are looking for more rhythm games for your headset, Beats Fever delivers where it needs to!
Arrowiz provided THE VR GRID with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!