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Orbeats Hands-On: Passable VR Rhythm Action

Orbeats Hands-On: Passable VR Rhythm Action

Orbeats delivers a new VR arcade rhythm game on Quest, but how does it fare? Here are our hands-on impressions:


VR rhythm games have a tough job standing out from the competition. In an oversaturated market led by Beat Saber, Synth Riders and Pistol Whip, Orbeats from Radical Forge caught my attention by mixing in VR racket sports. The end result feels closer to C-Smash VRS than Racket Club and while there's an interesting idea, the execution needs work.

Beyond the useful tutorial, Orbeats features two main modes. Journey Mode is the main attraction, featuring five different locations with good environmental designs, broken up into individual stages. I appreciate the practice option available for each stage and every level has three difficulty settings.

Armed with a futuristic tennis racket, you're tasked with destroying waves of blocks that form an alien defense system. Hitting blocks gradually increases your score multiplier, going up to x100, adding a competitive edge through online leaderboards. Missing blocks gradually depletes your health and reduces your multiplier, eventually killing you if you aren't careful.

Orbeats tries varying each stage with different blocks. Some grant a multiplier boost, others need multiple hits. There's also a few explosive blocks and some power-ups that make the ball massive. Hitting them gradually charges a meter to unleash a laser attack, a useful backup in a pinch. Your other hand acts as a tether to call balls back at a moment's notice, keeping gameplay under control.

So far, Orbeats' most interesting aspect is the Temple Guardians, bosses who appear in each area's last stage to protect the ruins. Alongside blocks, you're now fighting these guardians that actively attack you, and I found myself frequently dodging laser fire. This kept me moving, providing some enjoyable and necessary variety to an otherwise functional wave shooter.

With Survival Mode, that gradually cycles through multiple songs. A nice addition and, though the break between songs is appreciated, the repeated black transition screens are an immersion killer. The more chilled-out soundtrack isn't always to my taste either, though that'll be subjective depending on the person.

So far, Orbeats has been entertaining in short bursts and while I appreciate mixing rhythm gameplay with racket sports, the wave shooter mechanics just aren't that exciting. Presently, I'd be hard-pressed to recommend it over other VR rhythm games, but if you're someone who left C-Smash VRS wanting more boss fights, this could be worth a look.

Orbeats is available now on Quest App Lab for £10.49/$13.99.

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