The best way to describe Audica would be as ‘Beat Saber with guns’, but it also just so happens to come from one of the finest rhythm game developers of all time in Harmonix so you just know that it’s going to be something special. Admittedly, it doesn’t always hit the heights of its competitor, but that doesn’t stop it from being a thoroughly enjoyable experience that’s full of banging tunes and challengingly fun gameplay.
Audica challenges the player to shoot at a series of targets that fly their way to the beat of the music. Simple, right? Incoming targets are presented to the player with a splash of colour marking where they’ll land so you always have an idea where to shoot next, but with a multitude of targets to shoot at and the need for razer-sharp reflexes, it can prove to be quite a testing experience. You’ll certainly have fun racking up those high scores and seeing where you place on the leaderboard though, with things like your hit-combos, how many targets you’ve hit, and your accuracy all considered when accumulating your score.
There’s more to consider than just shooting targets though – some require you to hold the fire-button down in order to destroy, some challenge you to drag your line of fire across a line of targets, some require you to position your gun at a specific angle (on the harder difficulties), whilst there are also targets you have to physically hit when they launch your way. There’s a surprising amount of things that you’ve got to think about, with the game keeping you on your toes by constantly shifting the variety of targets coming your way and forcing you to swap up your shooting style. It might sound daunting, but it’s a lot of fun… well… except for on the harder difficulties where the intensity is ramped up tenfold. I can’t hold that against the game though and I’m sure that BETTER gamers than me will love the challenge that the higher difficulties bring.
Players can work through songs in free play in order to try and best their scores, but there’s also a campaign in place that sees you playing through the whole soundtrack whilst completing some very specific objectives. These objectives are challenging and encourage you to play in a particular way, so it definitely spices up the formula – some can be frustrating too though, so expect some roadblocks along the way. The campaign is a nice addition to the game, whilst the unlockable guns and environments you earn along the way make it all worthwhile.
Of course, a rhythm game is nothing without a good soundtrack, so I’m happy to report that Audica’s thirty-plus tracks are pretty banging. It features the sort of genres you’d have probably seen in other modern rhythm games (there’s even a song included that features in Beat Saber), but with artists like David Guetta, deadmau5 and Dragonforce appearing, it’s clear there’s a good bit of variety to be found. PlayStation VR owners even get some bonus tracks to play through, whilst the fact you can actually map your own levels based off of the existing soundtrack means you’re not going to run out of things to play fast.
So Audica has a whole lot going for it and I had a lot of fun playing, but there is one thing that holds it back a little: the guns. Now it’s not that the gunplay in the game is bad at all, but rather that I’ve done SO much of it already in PlayStation VR that it’s started to grow a little old – Beat Saber brought something fresh and exciting to the rhythm game genre, but Audica just feels like something I’ve played plenty of times before. Admittedly, it’s hardly a flaw and it’s more of a personal preference on my side, but it was the difference between Audica being ‘very good’ and ‘amazing’.
Audica is one hell of a fun rhythm game, with the great soundtrack, the intense variety of shooting and the enjoyable campaign coming together to make for another great release from the team at Harmonix. The only real problem I had with the game was the fact that the shooting itself didn’t offer anything I hadn’t seen before – it’s not a big problem in the grand scheme of things, but with the shooting genre a little saturated on PlayStation VR, it might put off some gamers.
Besides that, Audica is a blast to play. I had a heck of a good time racking up high scores across the intense levels and it’s certainly a worthy alternative for rhythm game fans that are fed up of swinging their arms around wildly whilst hitting boxes…
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift