We have espoused the virtues of VR rhythm games before, and now we have a new title to add to the mix: Synth Riders. While mechanically similar to Beat Saber on the surface, Synth Riders has some notable exceptions that allow it to stand out. Our favorite of these features are “rails”, in which you keep your hand balanced on a swerving rail as it careens across the screen. Think of it like grinding on a skateboard. This rail system is far and away the best solution we’ve seen in VR for how to tackle long-lasting notes.
The game is also a very malleable one, with an almost overwhelming number of modifiers and settings to play around with. This extends to the core gameplay as well, which allows you to pick between 'rhythm' and 'force' modes. While rhythm is more about ensuring your hands are in the correct positions when the notes reach you, force encourages you to more aggressively pursue the spheres that are flying at you down the track. The fact the title is so flexible while remaining cohesive is quite the accomplishment. No one play style suffers thanks to the other.
Equally impressive is the sheer volume of content at launch. With the benefit of a couple years worth of PC VR support, Synth Riders launches with 55 songs as the base experience, as well as an additional 25 tracks you can buy. And the actual music selection is phenomenal. While most of the other rhythm titles place a greater emphasis on EDM and dubstep and the like, Synth Riders – while it does include a little of this – sets its sights elsewhere. The emphasis is placed on synthwave, synthpop, and most curiously, electro-swing.
While many of the heavy-hitting artists like Caravan Palace, Muse, and The Offspring are paid tracks, the base track list is diverse, impressive, and, most importantly, fun. Though if you find yourself craving more, the paid packs of songs include 'Experiences' that are more akin to interactive music videos, and they’re quite stunning.