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Beat the Beats Review: Heavy Hitting VR Rhythm Action

Beat the Beats Review: Heavy Hitting VR Rhythm Action

Beat the Beats could become one of VR's best new rhythm games. Read on for our full review:

When Beat Saber and Synth Riders continue showing significant longevity, new VR rhythm games have a tough job standing out in this crowded market. Developed by Parallel Circles, I consider Beat the Beats one of the strongest competitors in recent years. By swapping lightsabers and orbs for boxing gloves, it takes a more directly fitness-driven approach and I quickly found my rhythm.

Beat the Beats - Steam screenshot
Beat the Beats - The Facts

What is it?: A VR rhythm game that uses boxing moves.
Platforms: PSVR 2. Quest & SteamVR ports coming in 2024.
Release Date: February 27, 2024
Developer: Parallel Circles
Price: $19.99

While I don't wish to keep bringing up Beat Saber, it's an easy comparison. Beat the Beats scores you by hitting incoming targets and dodging obstacles, though points are awarded for precise hits over vertical slices. I've never been much of a boxer, though using jabs, hooks, uppercuts, and blocks makes for a pleasing alternative, all introduced through an easy-to-learn tutorial. Finishing songs awards you a rank, and online leaderboards add a nice competitive touch.

Successive hits gradually build up a multiplier, but you don't progressively restore health by doing this. Five mistakes end your run, though you can recover HP after clearing segments. A small grace period after missing means this isn't as punishing as it sounds and, initially anyway, I wouldn't call this particularly tough. I enjoyed the gradual difficulty curve as I progressed through arcade mode, while unlockable 'B-Sides' made those earlier songs suitably more challenging.

Beat the Beats - PSVR 2 screenshot

Beat the Beats nails what I'd consider the most crucial aspect of this genre: a solid sense of rhythm. Every time I've jumped on, I can feel myself getting in the zone with each song, throwing punches almost instinctively as new targets come toward me. That's helped by a pleasingly energetic soundtrack, which sadly doesn't include any big-name artists, though what's here is good.

I'm also really impressed by the presentation. The minimalist aesthetic feels clean and focused, though my highlight is how Beat the Beats handles song transitions. Stages don't fade to black after exiting a song, maintaining a seamless environment. That does wonders for immersion as this always keeps you in the experience, even briefly - something I recently criticized Orbeats for.

By using boxing moves, Beat the Beats' core mechanics make great use of VR's physicality, and I'm enjoying it more than Synth Riders. Instead of simply moving your arms toward a specific area, making those swings as you hit targets feels more satisfying. Subtle haptic feedback from the PSVR 2 Sense Controllers enhances this further, while the headset haptics kicking in as you dodge large red arrows further complement the immersion.

Beat the Beats - PSVR 2 screenshot

Comfort

Beat the Beats doesn't have many comfort settings, though it's not the sort of VR experience that needs it. This is a pretty comfortable game since you remain in one place while playing each stage. You can select your dominant hand, activate a colorblind mode, adjust haptic vibration strength, and change your height.

My biggest criticism is that I want more - the extras are somewhat lacking. Beyond Arcade Mode, you've only got two options and unfortunately, Quick Reaction isn't that exciting. It's a mini-game where you press buttons as quickly as possible, and you can clear everything in less than five minutes. Daily Mix is more interesting as that merges several songs into a longer stage for a unique challenge.

I'd also like more options for the main gameplay. Expanding the difficulty settings would be welcome, whether that's through modifiers like a one-miss fail or reduced health, or more pre-determined difficulty levels. Different colors for blocks/gloves could go a long way, too.

Beat the Beats - PSVR 2 screenshot

Beat the Beats Review - Final Thoughts

Beat the Beats makes great use of VR's physicality to deliver some of the most enjoyably fresh rhythm gaming I've experienced in recent months. While the extras don't go particularly far, the developers have a big canvas to build on in the future and there are strong core mechanics here for very satisfying active VR sessions.


UploadVR uses a 5-Star rating system for our game reviews – you can read a breakdown of each star rating in our review guidelines.

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