Android Central Verdict
Price: $18Bottom line: Electronauts is a cyberpunk musical experience unlike any other, and enjoying it means remembering to forget what you think it means to do things in VR or music.
Super easy to feel like you are making music
Fantastic starting song list
This is not a game, there is no score
Tutorial is a little too basic
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While there are a few different music games out there for the PlayStation VR, most of them are some kind of standard drumming machine trying to add an interesting VR twist. Electronauts, on the hand, achieves that twist. With striking visuals and a variety of beats to play with, this game – although I'm not sure if game is the right word – uses VR to create a mixing lab the likes of which only Daft Punk ever imagined in their chrome helmets.
Electronauts What I Like
The premise is simple, I think, from my time playing the game it seems to be devoid of any real gaming intent. Don't think of it as a game with levels, or a score, but more of an interactive music experience, a chance to be creative with samples, beats and even the crazy visuals around you.
Electronauts is visually a cyberpunk playground. Lots of bright colors and the general theme of the music you're interacting with is electronic in nature. You can lean in any direction of that spectrum, but there's clearly a theme. The initial tutorial explains that you're on a musical voyage of creativity and expression, and starts you off with a premade track you interact with. The floating platform you are standing on, and yes i do mean standing because Survios has made sure when you look down you see a whole body, is orbited by 3 stations that allow you to chop and change almost anything from the song. This three-station layout lets you change the vocals, the visuals, add effects to the music and even use orbs to add your own extra beats to the music in sampled loops.
The feel of the 3 stations in VR is perfect. When I think of VR games this is what I want, taking something that you couldn't do in a normal game – if you had 3 stations on a normal screen you wouldn't be able to switch the view fast enough – and adding a 3D element not available otherwise, it really does make it feel like future tech. With minimal effort or musical background it is easy to feel like you're creating something fun that you'd want to share with others.
Electronauts is played with 2 virtual drumsticks that you use like wands to help you cut and mix tracks. Depending on the song or even the part of the song there are sections of the backing track that you can play at will as well as well being able to mute component parts like the high hat or bass drum. If you have listened to Drum and Bass, Dubstep, or EDM, you will know that these kinds of muting options work extremely well in changing up the flow of the music.
This experience doesn't have a victory condition, but there are still achievements to unlock for exploring things. The purpose of this game is not to win but to create a new artistic endeavor and share with those around you. For the moment, there aren't any ways to share mixes you have assembled externally, like through Soundcloud or something. There are camera controls, and when I played with them I got a small screen showing my avatar doing cool stuff but nowhere did there seem to be a save or record or stream function anywhere. Maybe that will appear in time, I hope so, this game feels like it needs to be shared to really be appreciated. The goal is to have fun and make music, and be the virtual mix master of your friend circle. It's not difficult to imagine a party with nice speakers connected to a VR set up, where someone in this experience was making music for the whole group to enjoy.
Electronauts What I don't like
I really struggled with the no-win aspects of this game. I needed to feel like there was a goal in mind like I was doing well or not but the game offered little in the way of encouragement or even basic guidance. I constantly found myself looking for a running total or a Guitar Hero style meter that tells me if I am doing good or bad – I was doing bad gang, really, really bad – and not receiving any feedback from the game at all.
The tutorial is also frustratingly simple, so basic as to be almost no help. The tutorial takes you through the 3 simplest cubes – the cubes fit into the base station to bring up new interfaces to work with – and then says goodbye like you know everything there is to know. As you start your own music however you realize that everything is far more complicated. It's maddening to want to be good but not knowing how to get there.
The game feels like it is actively working to stop you sounding too objectively terrible. I found myself dancing along to the dubstep track I made, eagerly waiting for the beat to drop then realizing we were in a safe break until I actually started the drop, which, when I actually hit the button at the exact right moment gave me a real thrill. Of course, I was instantly sad that there was no part of the game that told me I did it right, which is part of the hangup I have.
Electronauts Should you buy it? Probably.
Survios has made Electronauts that heady mix of futuristic and retro with primitive voxels and primary colors all around you and crisp clear details on your equipment. It's like Daft punk went back in time into Jobes world in Lawnmower man, they are from the future, stuck in what the past thinks the future will be. The game is pretty trippy and so my head is all over the place. I really do enjoy the overall visual look of Electronauts and I'm happy that this kind of aesthetic is here to stay in VR.
The game is definitely very stylistic but it is still lacking what I need to make the game feel like a game, direction. When I finally did find a help button it was so overwhelming and technical that it actually made me feel less attached to the game, not more. I would like to see it become more game-ified in the future if I am going to continue playing it.
You can pick this game up August 7th on for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR. In the Steam, and Oculus stores the game will start at $19.99, but for PlayStation VR users the price is $17.99. Enjoy!