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Developer Hyperbolic Magnetism’s Beat Saber is the virtual reality rhythm game I never knew I wanted. It arms you with pseudo-lightsabers and barrages you with neon cubes to slash and obstacles to avoid — all while grooving to some funky techno beats. It’s out now on in Early Access on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.
The rules are simple: You have a red laser sword in your left hand, and a blue one in your right. Each cube flying towards you is one of those two colors and has an arrow on it, and you must slice it in the right direction with the right saber. Occasionally, land mines pop up, which are no bueno if you hit them. And walls will zoom toward you, which you must avoid. (Or, if you’re like me, successfully dodge them but then accidentally slam your Oculus controllers into your desk. My play area is pathetically small.)
It’s interesting that, unlike flat-screened rhythm games, you have to look in the distance to see upcoming moves. In titles like Guitar Hero or Rock Band, you can normally check in a glance or rely on peripheral vision to see what’s coming next. I felt like I had to rewire that instinct while playing Beat Saber, focusing in on near and far objects. The game has four difficulty levels at the moment, and they’re all appropriately enjoyable. Once you wade into the hard and expert modes, it really amps up.
Beat Saber is an extremely satisfying and fun way to get in some exercise and confuse your household pets if they haven’t seen you strafing around and batting at invisible flying blocks before. It quickly became one of my favorite VR experiences, and I’m looking forward to see what else Hyperbolic Magnetism will add to it before its full launch. It really shows that there’s no party like a Jedi party. Unless you’re Twitch broadcaster Ragesaq, in which case, you’re rocking it Darth Maul style with a Oculus controller mod that lets you play with a double-bladed light saber.
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