Audioshield is a fully immersive VR game for the HTC Vive. Audioshield is a physical interactive game, which will have you hitting objects along to music. Each of your hands is represented in-game with shields, which you use to block orbs. It works out as an approximation of boxing, as the coloured spheres will fly at you, and you have to block them in time to the beat.
The premise of the game is pretty simple. Your right shield is red, and blocks red orbs; your left shield is blue, and blocks blue orbs. These orbs come from primarily the same direction you’ll have to block in; however, sometimes it will require you to be a bit more acrobatic to get the correct shield to block the orbs. Occasionally you’ll have purple orbs, which require you to block with both shields. As with most rhythm games, it’s mostly a case of getting the timing right, but being in VR it has the addition of moving about and being active to reach the orbs.
As is standard with rhythm games, you’ll be given a score at the end of each song, with detailed statistics on your accuracy, how hard you hit e.t.c… There are also leaderboards as well, if you’re feeling competitive. These include global leaderboards, and each leaderboard is specific to that song and shield type.
Graphically there’s not much to say about Audioshield, as there isn’t much to look at. Beyond the coloured blobs you hit, there are general backgrounds which act as your “stage”. You can choose from a limited selection of options for different atmospheres, all of which look fine but really are just plain backdrops. Your shields are the other main item, which are nicely rendered as semi-transparent coloured light shields.
Graphics just aren’t that relevant to the game because they wouldn’t add much to it – the game is simple in design and that works in its favour. You’ll be totally immersed in what you’re doing, without the need for realistic world environments. The game is totally engaging, immersive and enjoyable.
There are other customisation options that aren’t just cosmetic – you can change both difficulties and shield types. Shield types are named e.g. “gladiator”, and change the shape of the shield, which changes the coverage of where they block. Difficulties range from easy, hard and even harder. Of course, the real difficulty depends on the song, regardless of difficulty chosen. Fast songs will have faster beats requiring faster movement. Some songs on harder difficulties can seem overwhelming, with a myriad of spheres flying at you so fast you only have time to do, not think.
This can be a great way to get fit if you enjoy music. The movements you make to block and hit the spheres are akin to boxing, so you can work up a sweat with the harder songs. Keep at it for a while and even the slower songs will be giving you a workout. Because it’s fun, you can exercise without losing motivation.
The best feature of this game is that it allows you to play your own music. The beats are generated with an algorithm, so that you are restricted to a limited number of songs which have been manually created. The algorithm isn’t completely perfect, so some songs will work better than others. To some extent this is to be expected due to the nature of the game – not all songs suit rhythm games after all. However, the beat tracking can be a little flawed, and doesn’t always line up that well. For some people this could be off-putting if the orbs don’t line up with the beat.
However, there’s always the option to find a different song which matches better. You can now even play music directly from YouTube. With the entirety of YouTube at your fingertips, the options are endless. This can mean you’ll run into a few “This video has not been made available in your country” errors, but even then it’s just a case of going back to the search screen and selecting a different video of that song.
As a PC game there are also plenty of mods available for Audioshield, allowing you to expand your customisability, such as mods for extra difficulty, or allowing you to hit both coloured orbs with either shield. These mods can offer increased customisation for the game, which can be helpful.
There are similar games available for VR, such as Soundboxing, or Holodance, but Audioshield was the first to come to VR and it still stands up well with the option of playing almost any song you can conceive. Though it doesn’t support mapping the songs yourself, having almost limitless song options makes the title well worth your time and energy.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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