Health & Family

Game review: ‘Beat Saber,’ amazing, immersive rhythm game is among the best VR experiences out there

Parents need to know that "Beat Saber" is a downloadable first-person action/rhythm game designed for virtual reality and available on the PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Oculus Quest hardware. Players are challenged to use their sci-fi sword-like sabers to attack and dodge flying beat blocks in time with the rhythm of individual music tracks. The game's a physical experience, with players using a constant full range of movement. While destroying targets is a key element of the game, it's not a particularly violent game, with neon blocks serving as your targets.

Finally, parents should note that the game supports additional downloadable content in the form of music packs, which can be purchased to further expand the game beyond its included soundtrack. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content to be found in the game. Parents should also be aware that virtual reality equipment makers don't recommend VR experiences for kids younger than 12 due to the potential impact the technology may have on younger players' physiological development.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

"Beat Saber" is a fully immersive virtual reality rhythm music game that brings players closer to the music than ever before. Armed with two light swords, one red and one blue, players slash at neon blocks while ducking and leaning to avoid walls and other obstacles in your path, all to the beat of the game's thumping soundtrack. Onscreen prompts tell you which way to swing and what saber to use. And if you think you've mastered a track, try to complete specific challenges for even more bragging rights. Can you cut through each track like a sci-fi ninja warrior? Or will you lose yourself to the rhythm of music?

IS IT ANY GOOD?

What happens when you take martial arts sword mastery and virtual pinatas, then mix it with a healthy dose of a sci-fi dance club vibe? The answer is "Beat Saber," a virtual reality rhythm game that's not like anything you've ever seen and is, hands down, one of the best VR experiences available. The game's simple premise and multiple difficulty levels makes it easy for anyone of any skill level to pick up and play. The challenge steps up progressively too, keeping players interest without ever becoming too frustrating. And there's nothing quite as satisfying as knocking out a monster combo in a particular song and knowing that it wasn't dumb luck that got you there, but real skill and practice.

One of the great things about "Beat Saber" is the way it pulls you into its world. If movies like Tron imagined the world that existed inside your computer, "Beat Saber" would be the world inside your MP3 player. Red and blue neon hues and highlights float and fly around, guiding your path through a black abyss to a techno groove, which just feels perfect. It's a surreal surrounding that still feels solid enough to reach out and touch. Added together with the fluid responsiveness of the controls and the VR immersion and it's hard not to imagine yourself as an actual living, breathing part of each track. And even though the game is designed as a single-player experience, the game is a blast to share with others. Swapping out the gear and watching friends chase their own high score while cheering them on is almost as much fun as being the one in the game. It also provides a good break from the action to keep from accidentally overworking yourself, because make no mistake, this is definitely a workout.

RATING AND CONTENT

Recommended for ages 10 and older

Quality: 5 out of 5

Educational value: 3 out of 5

Positive messages: 3 out of 5

Positive role models: 0 out of 5

Ease of play: 4 out of 5

Violence: 0 out of 5

Sex: 0 out of 5

Language: 0 out of 5

Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 0 out of 5

Consumerism: 1 out of 5

GAME DETAILS

Platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR

Price: $29.99

Developer: Beat Games

Release date: November 20, 2018

Genre: Music & Dance

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.

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