For the last week of my life, I have started and ended each day the same way. I'm dripping in sweat, every inch of me is sore, and I have a huge smile on my face. I'm using a VR fitness app called Supernatural, something that feels simultaneously unique and familiar as I put my hands through the Oculus Quest controller straps and get ready for another session.
This incredible new app has created a fair bit of controversy recently. You've seen this gameplay before: it looks and feels a lot like Beat Saber in how you have to move around in VR to music. However, the monetary model is unique. You can't just pay a flat fee to gain access to the goods inside like you do for every other app on the Oculus Store. Instead, Supernatural gives you 30-day access to its wares for free and then asks you to pay $19/month. It's unusual, and has a lot of folks wondering if other VR devs will see this and follow suit.
So is Supernatural worth a monthly fee? In my opinion, hell yes it is.
What do I get for this subscription?
All you have to do is look at the trailer for Supernatural to know you've seen the core of the "gameplay" here before. You have a different colored bat in each hand, and you have to swing that bat at a balloon with a matching color that is lined up with some of the most popular music on the planet today. In order to pop the balloon, you have to swing the bat in a specific direction. It's not as flashy as a light saber on a futuristic-looking stage, but there are some clear similarities.
However, there's a lot more to Supernatural than just being a clone of another popular game. For starters, this isn't a game at all. Supernatural is wholly focused on delivering a fitness experience. The app starts off by measuring your arm length and reach with your squats and lunges so it can build a stage where you push yourself physically. The workouts you experience are built for you, and you're scored based on your ability to perform within this uniquely crafted obstacle course. The force of every swing, the accuracy of every hit, and your ability to fit your body into every unique triangle comes together to form a ranking and a score you can compare to other friends on Supernatural.
Supernatural isn't just a fitness app, or a rhythm game, or a personal trainer. It's all of the above.
Like other rhythm games, every activity in Supernatural is themed to music. Where Beat Saber relies mostly on music made in-house, Supernatural pulls from everything playing on the radio today. In my current favorite workout in the app, I'm treated to Are you gonna be my girl by Jet and Good as Hell by Lizzo among so many others. These are the same kinds of high intensity songs you'll hear inside a traditional fitness studio, and it makes a difference when you're working out.
Popular music can be expensive to liscense, and developers need to be paid for their work, but there's another component to Supernatural which brings all of this together. When you start up a session in Supernatural, you are guided by an actual, real world workout coach. These are people you see from head to toe as though you're in a studio with them, and as you go through the workout you constantly hear them in your ear encouraging you to keep going. These coaches aren't just recorded voices — you can even hear some of them working out alongside you.
Supernatural isn't just a fitness app, or a rhythm game, or a personal trainer. It's all of the above, and your subscription gives you fresh content daily to experience right alongside your friends.
Why pay for this when I have Beat Saber?
Honestly, this is a great question. I've played hundreds of hours of Beat Saber. I own every music pack, and it's the first thing I show friends when introducing them to my Oculus Quest. Beat Saber is awesome, and if you love it to you should keep playing. I'm not here to tell you to trade one for the other.
Supernatural is not Beat Saber. You don't really have granular control over the difficulty levels, or the ability to add and remove hurdles to make a song more interesting. You can't speed a song up in Supernatural like you can in Beat Saber. At the same time, Supernatural has some incredible fitness-oriented features that mean a great deal to someone who wants a proper workout. You can choose workouts based on specific parts of your body, and the experiences have music selections already picked to help with that. It's possible to sync up a Bluetooth fitness tracker to your phone and line up your heartrate data with the content in the workout. In some cases, Supernatural can record back to the fitness tracker as a workout.
Beat Saber is an incredible game that I can feel like I've had a workout in when I am finished playing. Supernatural is a workout app that is also a ton of fun, and can at times feel like a game. If you're happy with playing a game that gets your heartrate up, that's awesome. If you want something more, you get a much more intense workout with Supernatural and the experience is actually treated like a workout.
Is Supernatural really worth it?
There's no question, $19/month or $150/year if you pay annually is a lot to ask for any fitness experience. There are full gym memberships that cost less than this monthly. Even the Peleton app, which offers its studio-like cycling service for those who don't want to shell out for its incredibly expensive bike, is only $13/month. Frankly, there's also a lot more content in the Peloton app.
Some of this cost is what you pay for the great music liscensing. Some of this is the added cost of building something in VR. Some of this is knowing people who own VR headsets aren't likely to shy away from spending a little extra cash, which they have demonstrated by owning a VR headset in the first place.
But all of this comes together to something genuinely special. "Playing" Supernatural feels just as intense as any workout, and I say that as a multiple Century cyclist and someone who has completed multiple Triathlons. There are no other VR experiences like Supernatural, I've tried them all. If you want to use VR to work out, this is the ultimate experience in doing so. For that, I say it's worth the price.
Step into the Gym
More than a workout.
Push yourself to the limit with this incredible VR experience, featuring new workouts daily from actual gym instructors and the most popular music on the planet today. There's nothing quite like this anywhere, but it is undoubtedly a little pricey.