Synth Riders | Review

Release Date
October 31, 2019
Developer
Kluge Interactive
Style
Roomscale, Standing, Sitting
Locomotion
Standing / Room Scale
Length
Music / Sports / YMMV
Price
$16.99
Our Score
8

Are you an 80’s fanboy? Do you long for the days of Neon and old-school EDM? Well, take one last look at your Tron poster, strap on your roller skates, pop a couple of Pez from your collectible Ewok dispenser, and get ready to hop into a nostalgia-filled good time with Synth Riders. Here’s our review!

THE BASICS

Synth Riders follows a similar concept to the other music/beat-based VR games on the market now. You have a red and blue “ball” (one per hand); Before you are orbs you must blast through to a triumphant victory. Be alert as you’re gliding through each level. You may have to combine both hands for certain orbs or duck and dodge obstacles in your path.

HOW IT PLAYS

The concept is simple: Glide through the “level,” Hit orbs to the beat, dodge obstacles. Similar in style to games such as Beat Saber, this is not a foreign idea. But despite multiple “skins” or maps, and many songs to choose from, it all feels relatively the same throughout. Somehow every level feels the same and feels repetitive after a while.

FEEDBACK

Every game needs to give you a certain sense of accomplishment to be enjoyable for long periods. This accomplishment is what keeps you going and going, trying the level over and over and over again until you finally complete it perfectly. That “ahh” moment is something I am always searching for in a game. For me, I have a hard time finding that in Synth Riders.

In my opinion, for a game in this genre to work well, it needs top-notch level development. What do I mean by this? If I can look back at Beat Saber for a moment; What is it about this game that everyone loves? Beat Saber is the Guitar Hero of VR. It gives you the feeling that you are actually “drumming” to the beat. When you miss, you get an audible disappointment because you are missing that “thump” that you get when you hit the right block at the right time. That is what makes the game so rewarding. When you hit the blocks just right, you feel as if you are the one making the song progress. You become the musician at that moment. For me, that feeling is missing in a big way for Synth Riders.

synth riders review

As you are riding through the level and hitting the orbs, it never feels like they quite line up with the beats, and you never really believe that you are driving the song. It feels more like you are just along for the ride. If you miss an orb or don’t hit it just right, there is no real feedback, and therefore, no real sense of how well or badly you are doing at each level. I don’t think this makes Synth Riders a lousy experience, but for me, I can’t get behind it if I can’t feel that sense of accomplishment after each level.

More on that later..

A game for a different type of player

I’m aware there are multiple types of gamers out there. As I previously stated, I need instant feedback. I need to know how I am doing at any given moment, and I need to “feel” that I am driving the progression of the game. Others are more laidback and want more of an experience rather than a serious game. And that is precisely how I would classify Synth Riders. If you want a game that allows you to lose a little focus and enjoy your surroundings and the beautiful music, this is the game for you.

synth riders review

HOW IT LOOKS

Synth Riders have nailed the graphics. You genuinely feel like you just fell into Tron. Bright neon colors are all around you as you surf through vibrant digital landscapes surrounded by everything from mountains to skyscrapers to complex wireframes. I never once noticed a stutter or graphics tearing or any other glitch that would take me out of the moment. The developers have done a great job optimizing this game.

GLORIOUS BASS AND CUSTOMIZATION

The tracks are the big selling point of the game, in my opinion. In my playthroughs, I didn’t hear a single track that I didn’t like. Pro tip: I recommend playing with headphones or earbuds to take full advantage of the immersion and the buttery bass-filled tracks. As I mentioned earlier, one downside is the lack of feedback when hitting (or missing) the orbs in your path. A large part of this feedback is, of course, controller feedback, but audio feedback is just as valuable. Unfortunately, I feel this is lacking substantially throughout the game. The good thing is, this is an easy fix should the developers wish to fix it in a future update.

[Since the initial review, we have had a conversation with the Devs in which they acknowledge the feedback issues mentioned above and have plans in future updates to add these requested features. Thanks, Kluge Interactive!]

synth riders review

CUSTOMIZABLE TRACKS

Something really great about Synth Riders is its native beat editor! It has an official editor that they have built and open-sourced and you can simply drag-and-drop a beatmap and a song you want to play to your Quest! The easiest way to start with custom songs is to look at the guidelines that come with the editor. You should also join the Synth Riders’ Discord and Synth Riders Mod discord. They are two very supportive and loyal groups of VR and Synth Riders enthusiasts who will provide lots of useful tips and answer any questions you might have.

LOTS OF POSSIBILITIES

With multiple maps, over 25 songs on release, various difficulty levels, and the ability to upload custom song maps, Synth Riders should have a long shelf life with plenty of ways to replay each level. This plus any changes or alternate game modes the devs might add in the future make this game a strong contender for anyone who wants a game they can keep coming back to.

synth riders review

LAST WORDS

I believe Synth Riders a great experience, but for me, not necessarily a great game. If you want a visually beautiful adventure that is stuffed full of nostalgia and buttery smooth EDM and doesn’t take itself too seriously, then this might just be the experience for you. If you are looking for a competitive game with a real sense of feedback and accomplishment, you may want to look elsewhere.

Synth Riders | Review
TLDR : Summary
If you want a visually beautiful adventure that is stuffed full of nostalgia and buttery smooth EDM and doesn't take itself too seriously, then this might just be the experience for you.
Concept
8
Gameplay
6.5
Graphics
9
Audio
9
Longevity
9
User Rating3 Votes
7.4
Pros
Nostalgic AF
Who Doesn't Like EDM?
Beautiful Neon Worlds
Cons
Lack Of Feedback
Poor Tutorial
8
Groovy!