Harmonix Music VR
Developer: Harmonix Music Systems
Release Date: Out Now
Controllers: DS4 and Move Compatible (Two Move Controllers Required for The Easel Mode)
If you’re looking for deep gameplay you won’t find it here, but if you’re looking to experience music in a way you never have before then Harmonix Music VR is unmissable.
There are four different modes in Harmonix VR: The Easel, The Trip, The Beach and The Dance. All offer different ways to experience the music you love, or the in-game tracks provided.
Your favourite songs are easily imported. Simply place them on a USB stick, in a folder named “Music,” pop it in the front of the PS4 and you’re set. Before entering a level you choose a playlist by scrolling through a long list and selecting your desired tracks, which is fairly cumbersome at present.
The first mode I tried was The Easel. Here you’re given the tools to create 3D art which pulses and vibrates with the music you’ve imported. You use the right Move controller to paint and the left to move your creations and access the menu, where you can change brushes. I’ve never been able to draw in two dimensions but nevertheless I really enjoyed creating a three-dimensional mess of shapes and colours all around me. You can save any sculptures you make and come back to them another time. Although much more primitive, it’s a good preview of what 3D sculpting may be like in Media Molecule’s upcoming PS4/PSVR game Dreams.
The Trip was my next stop on the Harmonix VR ride and it was certainly the most wild and psychedelic. Once again you pick your music but this time there is no interaction – you simply sit back and enjoy the ride. The game analyses your chosen tracks and visualises them as you move forward – at a speed that seems to be regulated by the tempo of the music. The result can only be described as a journey through a massive, moving, ever-changing kaleidoscope. It really has to be seen to be believed. What really impressed me though was that the game actually did analyse the track. When I played back the same songs I got the same visuals. I was expecting the game to give me different visuals every time, but it only did that when the song changed – and visuals can change quite considerably from song to song. For me this mode was worth the money on its own. I think this will be the way I “listen” to my favourite bands new albums for the first time from now.
The Dance was the next on my list. In this mode you’re the puppet master, animating several wacky characters, making them dance or gyrate maniacally to your music selection. The mode is set in a school hall, equipped with balloons, tables and chairs. By eating a piece of cake (grabbing it and pulling it towards your virtual mouth) you can switch between several other positions. One of which is the DJ Booth, where you can speed up the song currently playing, or slow it right down. Animating the characters with the Move controllers also reminded me of what to expect when animating characters in Dreams, when it’s finally released.
The last mode, The Beach, was my least favourite. It wasn’t bad by any means but it didn’t hold my attention as long as the other modes. You can move between various static positions on a colourful desert island, whilst affecting the world around you, such as making it rain, making it dark and other such effects.
The game looks great in VR. I found myself grinning my way through The Easel and awestruck throughout The Trip, but I will say that unless you really enjoy music, or are a keen artist that is looking to create limited sculptures/art in 3D there might not be a whole lot here for you. I hope that in the future they really work on The Trip, creating even more vibrant, bizarre and fantastic worlds to visualise my favourite music.
Verdict: 8/10 – Great for music lovers, but go in knowing it’s more of an experience/tool than a game.