By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
God of Riffs is available to preview on Steam, and it has a long way to go before becoming a playable product in a virtual reality market where there’s at least 30 rhythm-based games in this genre. It’s currently limited to the Oculus Rift, Rift S, and Quest. Strangely, the Quest 2 is not included despite being an update to the prior model. Also, both units can operate standalone. I am surprised a VR ready PC is required when the Quest’s biggest selling point is that it can work standalone.
The early access version shows potential as an optional version of Beat Saber to play. Officially, this highly popular game prefers modern alt-pop over other genres, and without a high-end PC, I can’t access the mods offered by fellow rhythm game enthusiasts (I’m a Apple Macintosh devotee with a PC laptop).
I found the timings on when to bash the targets down feel a bit more natural, like playing a drum, versus other games and their unusual rhythm scheme. Changing the difficulty level will alter that. Here, you’re bashing your axes (guitars) over the head of a huge skeleton army coming at you. The graphics are very cartoony, and it suits the late 80s style when I became a metalhead.
The game play is colour-coded so that only a red blade can destroy a red warrior, and blue one likewise. Gold-coloured bones mean both weapons must be used. The targets are limited to skeleton warriors looking like they have been super deformed and perhaps also from a Ray Harryhausen movie. We even have the iconic skulls with bat-wings, and I love it since that was the first image I tried to create when I first learned computer programming in school.
Four songs are available in this early preview and this limitation will only make this product enjoyable in its current iteration for a weekend. Boss Music Games is listening to their fan-base, so what you see now may not be the final product. In order for the official release to be full throttle exciting, I’d love to see the company make this program run on the Quest instead of the PC, be available for HTC Vive at least, and the first to openly support mods. That is, allow fans to build and side load their favourite head banging tunes to the game. Only time will tell if they will allow this. I don’t think the studio has the budget to license tracks from Metallica, Led Zeppelin, or Judas Priest to use.
I’d rather have familiar tunes like The Scorpion’s “Rock You Like a Hurricane” playing instead of new songs from studio musicians. The early press release didn’t credit who the artists are. The tracks offered at present are good, but I’m sure all rockers want familiarity and Guns n’ Roses to jam along to.
Just how often new content gets added after this game is out of beta will define this game’s success in a tough gaming market. In its current state, it’s not a huge winner. All it does is give a taste of what’s to come as the developers continue fine-tuning this product like the guitar we’re all pretending to weld. A string can break when you least expect it.