Stop for a minute. Think of the people writing these words from behind the keyboard. Think of the things going through their mind as they write reviews of stuff you enjoy. Why do they do it? Because they care. They care about games. They care that you get the experience you want out of the games – they’re doing a service, to make sure you have an idea of how your going to spend your time, and get the most out of it. But think harder – how exactly do you review a game that is soley and almost completly dependant on each indiviual player’s mp3 collection?

You see, that’s the premise behind AudioSurf, just released on Steam this week. As a concept, it can be distilled rather simply – move your ship along a track, collecting blocks of colour in order to make collections that give you points – not unlike Klax and similar puzzle games of it’s type – without filling up your storage space. But to dismiss it as a colour matching game would be doing AudioSurf quite the disservice. You can also play a mode wherein you have to avoid all the grey blocks, and only collect the coloured ones. Or you can play co-opratively with a friend. And why? For the age old gaming staple of a High Score table. And as more and more rather simple concepts are introduced into the game, you realise that this indie game – this ten dollar, made by one person colour match em up – has more twists and depth than Spagetti Junction if it were transformed into the mind of Salvador Dali.

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Online high score tables, achievements and the like may seem like pretty trivial things to strive towards, but it’s amazing how little motivates the mind – you’re willing to have ‘just one more go’ after recieving the sixth email telling you your best score on your favourite song has been beaten – that’s your crown, you’re not going to let it go. And it proves more addictive than – I dare say – all the Peggles in the world could ever master. So yeah, it might be a casual game – but this is quite possibly the most involved you could get in one short of actually being in it. Part of this comes from the rather genius idea brought about from the recent spew of music related games currently taking the gaming world by storm.

Ever since Beatmania back in 1997 got the World introduced to games about the music – rather than the other way around – we’ve been slightly addicted. Then many years later, games like Singstar and Guitar Hero have proven that the most important thing about music ryhthm action games is the music. Have a good soundtrack, and the world – or at least the gamer – is your oyster. So Dylan Fitterer has given you no excuse to complain about his game’s soundtrack – because it’s your own music that makes the tracks. Using some very clever coding trickery, you choose a song to play, and the game will create a track and course according to the song – if you for instance give the game a rather slow, laid back song, then you’ll recive a mainly uphill track that moves at a rather relaxed pace. Give it some sort of death metal, fast tempoed stuff, and you’ll have a steep downhill course scary enough to give the late Evel Kenevil the shakes. Finding the best songs to use is half the fun, and soon enough you’ll be finding courses that are so fun to play, you’ll be getting your friends to use the same song just to dare them to try and beat your amazing score.

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If you want niggles – and I’m sure if you’re reading this you do – then maybe I could say that some of the different game types (each character has a different way to play the game) are a bit similar. And perhaps after a while you’ll find yourself going back to the same character. But for the price, and the time you’ll no doubt spend on the game for the money, these are forgivable. And yes. The biggest niggle is indeed your music collection. If you haven’t got that much music in electronic form, then perhaps you will find the game limited. The really hard thing about reviewing this however, is that the game itself cannot really be blamed for that.

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AudioSurf is really something special. Never mind it’s the first game to use SteamWorks. That’s not important. Never mind it’s up for three awards, including the coveted Seamas McNally Grand Prize in this year’s IGF festival. That’s not important either. The important part is that this game taps into the most base instincts of gamers, and manages to pull out a gleaming sparkling diamond of fun. The question isn’t really whether you should try it. The question is: Is your hard drive big enough to fit all the music you’ll want to try on it?


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2 Responses to Review: Audiosurf

  1. I tried out the demo of Audiosurf over at Steam, and it was fun.

    I was actually impressed it manage to interpret the songs as well as it did. It got me doing some Guitar Hero-like “sweeps” during guitar solos, and things like that.

    It was a nice way to listen to my music. Now, though, I’m not so sure it’s actually worth the (albeit very low) price. It’s still mainly My own songs that do the work.

  2. The_B says:

    See, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Can you honestly name any game that can be utilized in as many different ways as the player has the possibility to do themselves? It’s one of the main reasons I loved (and still love) Vib Ribbon, and now it’s been transferred to a new generation as such…

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