Harmonix doing what it does best.
Rhythm-game experts Harmonix successfully released Audica for PC VR and PlayStation VR platforms towards the end of 2019, offering its own take on this genre which has exploded across all virtual reality (VR) headsets. It’s now the turn of Oculus Quest, offering owners a chance to see how good their shooting skills really are to a thumping beat.
Unlike others in this field – Beat Saber, Pistol Whip, Synth Riders – Audica’s gameplay doesn’t go for physicality, having to dodge objects or move an excessive amount. This is VR rhythm gaming stripped back to its core principles, being rewarded for accuracy and timing with lightning reflexes. Sure if you keep the guns held high your arms are going to feel the strain after a long session but don’t plan on adding Audica to a VR fitness regime, others are more suited to the task.
This is because Audica is more an advanced shooting gallery, matching the colours of the two guns you hold to all the targets appearing. By default, the guns are blue and orange, easily modified to a range of different hues if you so wish. Aesthetics aside, Audica has a range of targets to shoot, each varying slightly in its required action to maximise gameplay and keep things interesting. For example, some of the more advanced targets have ahead to shoot first and then a tail to follow, while others your gun needs to be either horizontal or vertical.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? If you’ve played any of those aforementioned rivals on their harder difficulties then just wait until you try Audica. This isn’t a VR title you can just naively jump straight into the hard difficulty levels because you’re an expert on Beat Saber. There’s a much greater variance in the gameplay thanks to the multitude of targets on offer, possibly making Audica the most intense rhythm videogame for Oculus Quest.
While it doesn’t offer the lavishness or untouchable feeling of Pistol Whip, you can easily tell the finesse that can only come from Harmonix. Like any videogame in this genre, the tracks are crucially important and the studio has a very solid history in this department. As such, Audica has one of the best song selections for a newly released title. EDM, DubStep are always going to be the popular choice because of the easy fit, yet the core listings include British power metal band Dragon Force and a Donna Summer remix. If you’re looking for music variety then Audica shouldn’t disappoint.
One feature that should make fans of stats happy is the end results board after completing each song. Here you’ll see how accurate you were, how on time each shot was and more, helping those hardcore players fine-tune their skills to challenge the upper leaderboards. The standard target has a total of 2000 points, 500 for hitting the thing then a maximum of 750 for accuracy and 750 for timing, giving plenty of scope for top tier scores to be very close, thus adding a highly competitive edge.
Audica is a mainly single-player experience offering a solo mode to play through all the tracks at your leisure or a campaign mode for a curated experience – a local group mode is available when friends are round. The campaign will unlock new gun and location designs whilst offering modifiers on certain songs to up the difficulty even further, making the guns invisible or removing the telegraphs which assist with timing each shot. On the subject of assistance, Audica does have a partial auto-aim option as default (which can be switched off). It won’t help to get a bullseye but it’ll aid players of any skill to hit the targets unless wildly off.
If you love rhythm-action videogames and are looking for a proper challenge then you can’t go too far wrong with Audica. It lacks the flair and charisma of rivals which draw far more attention but Harmonix’s latest is not to be overlooked. The music selection and challenging gameplay are the big plus points here, working well with the wireless freedom Oculus Quest offers.