Synth Riders – Feel the Virtual Rhythm
VR had lost some of its lustre for me. While I am excited about its future, at present the various marketplaces are truly mixed bags. For every Half-Life: Alyx there is, there are countless subpar games and even more that are simply lazy. I have played countless titles in search for a game that is accessible, immersive, fun, and that truly appeals to me.
That search ends now, for I have played Kluge Interactive’s ‘Synth Riders.’ It is everything I could want in a modern rhythm game, combining synth-wave, retrowave, electro swing, and punk rock with gorgeous neon visuals and engaging gameplay.
Comparisons to Beat Saber are inevitable, as there are obvious similarities between the two. Both games take place with the player standing in one spot, hitting various targets and dodging obstacles in time with music. Aside from the core gameplay, these are two very different games, with Synth Riders offering more varied gameplay, and music that is more to my personal tastes. I will go on record now and say: if you are into the retrowave scene, this game is a must-have. No excuses.
Synth Riders offers players a number of difficulty options, ensuring accessibility for newbies and a challenge for even the most experienced of rhythm and VR gamers. I actually found myself starting the game on Hard but moved to Expert after some practice with songs that I was familiar with. Even then, I am far from mastering the songs, and am keen to reach that level of skill.
On higher difficulties, the game feels more active than Beat Saber, as players are moving their arms around more, tracing light trails as they dance to the high energy music. They will also dodge left and right to avoid walls, and duck them as they fly at head height. The left arm might have to move to the right and the right to the left. Arms might even have to cross over, or spread outward and then back in. There is a lot of variety in actions tasked to the player and it all feels so much better for it. It also feels more like dancing than other VR rhythm games, which is actually a good thing.
Visually, the game is quite crisp. It’s also really easy to read what’s happening on screen and know what to do in turn. In addition to the game’s standard modes, there are also unique experiences that come bundled with DLC packs, some of which are mind-blowing in terms of visuals. They can prove a little more difficult to play, however, as there is no ground or floor, and players are flying through a massive space. Still, they are some of the most unique and engaging VR music experiences I’ve had to date.
When it comes to the game’s soundtrack, it lends itself incredibly well to the visuals and gameplay. I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to be introduced to their new favourite artists and musical subgenres through Synth Riders. I spend a great deal of my time already listening to the various artists featured in Synth Riders, such as Celldweller, Scandroid (also a Klayton project) Carpenter Brut, Sunset Neon, Waveshaper, PRIZM and more, and for all of them to be featured in a video game is something I truly appreciate.
It might sound silly, but Synth Riders proves itself to be more fun than other VR music games, as though others have laid the foundation, and it has come along to make everything just that bit more fun. The game takes an established formula improves upon it in every way. I can only hope we see similar retrowave-themed games from Kluge Interactive in the future!
Synth Riders was reviewed on the PSVR with code kindly supplied by the publisher.
Formerly the editor of Sticky Trigger and CritDMG, Nick has over 6 years of experience as a journalist and content creator. Loves retro and nostalgic visual and sound design, and should probably finish at least one of those games he picked up in the Steam Summer Sale.