Genre: action, casual, indie
Compatibility (headsets): Steam VR, Meta Quest, PS VR2
Platforms: Steam Store, Meta Store, PlayStation Store
Minimum requirements: intel i5 Sandy Bridge or equivalent, Memory: 4 GB RAM, Graphics: Nvidia GTX 960 or equivalent, DirectX 11, Storage: 3 GB available space
Features: single / multiplayer
Release date: July 12, 2018
Developer: Kluge Interatictive
Price: 24.99 $
VR rhythm games have been dominating the game charts alongside shooter and RPG VR experiences which are hard to dethrone from the best-selling lists. Unlike the latter, VR dancing games provide players with a highly entertaining and physically demanding objective of moving to the music beats by slashing whatever it is flying your way. Although many would instantly think of Beat Saber as the most acclaimed title in this genre, there are other VR rhythm games like Synth Riders which not only precede it release-wise but also when it comes to availability of special features and DLCs.
VR Today Magazine’s team has taken on the task of checking out what Synth Riders has to offer and determining whether it’s worth the investment of both time and money.
Starting the game
After entering the game, one can easily navigate their gameplay. There are several song titles to choose from, and you can also select the level of difficulty you’d like to play. The free music library consists of around 40 songs. However, there are paid-for titles, which cost $2 each. Keep in mind that the available music genres are not too diverse, as mainly rock, electro, and pop artists are featured. For example, one could not be able to play alongside a country style tune, but if you’re a fan of Dua Lipa, then you have an abundance of choices.
Synth Riders is a classical rhythm game – the player must hit balls flying at them with either of their hands. For instance, if the coming ball is red, you hit it with your left hand. You slash yellow balls with the right hand. Green balls must only be hit with one hand, whereas orange ones must be hit with both hands.
We were surprised to see that there are a few soundtrack songs from the infamous League of Legends video game, which can be quite appealing for those familiar with it.
Our personal favorite was the electro swing tunes, as they truly made you want to dance and move around more, which made us lose track of time.
Shangri-La La La Remix in Synth Riders
In order to celebrate the two-year anniversary of the Shangri-La DLC, Walkabout Mini Golf’s developers have collaborated with the team of Synth Riders to reimagine the popular tune and adapt it to the style of Synth Riders. As it is available only for a limited time period, we had to give it a try. Those who have already played Walkabout Mini Golf would definitely be fascinated to play alongside the electro-wave style version of the Shangri La tune. There are also mini golf-inspired windmills and balls embedded in the environment to enhance the game’s environment. However, if you’re used to Synth Rider’s more upbeat and fast-paced gameplay, then this crossover may be too chill for you.
The party mode offered in Synth Riders enables you to play with up to 10 people and only one headset. The goal is to hand over the headset after you’re done to those in line and, in the end, see who has the best score. This mode is perfect for a fun night with friends who are yet to be introduced to VR games – Synth Riders is a proper starting point for any low-entry player.
After we tested the game’s capabilities by ourselves, it was time to see how the multiplayer mode compared to playing solo. There weren’t many lobbies with people waiting to find their game partner. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a good sign as it is common for less-played games to slowly lose their charm by not providing enough variety and people to play with.
Luckily, we got matched with an advanced Synth Riders player, who not only crushed us but also helped us learn more about the game’s capabilities. For instance, he introduced us to the concept of custom songs in the game.
Players of Synth Riders are provided with free software (Windows only as the game itself), which enables them to create their own music map to play to. You choose the desired song and create a rhythm-based map for it. There’s also a tutorial that makes it easier for literally anyone to experiment with their beat crafting capabilities. All 3089 custom songs from other players are available on the game’s website and are free to download.
What to keep in mind
We’d highly recommend you see which position of the avatar is most comfortable to slash balls in. Through the extended settings, we positioned ourselves in the middle of the arena, which made it easier to reach all flying objects without stretching too much.
Beware that there’s a lot of movement involved in Synth Riders, therefore one could easily get carried away and break whatever it is located near you. I hit the porcelain chandelier in my room quite a bit, which made it swing just as much as my hands were while playing. That’s why it’s best to clear out the space you’ll play in, as you will forget that there are breakables around you.
Be prepared for a lot of hand swinging and consequently sweating; when trying a harder difficulty level, I even started getting short on my breath, which was an indicator that I was going through a real workout session. Also, feel free to check our list of the best mixed-reality games.
For those who have already played Beat Saber, Synth Riders may not provide anything new. However, it is the best alternative for it. This game has a 9/10 rating on Steam and a 4.7/5 on the Oculus Store, which makes it a high-ranking title amongst VR gamers. Synth Riders is also more affordable as its regular price is $24.99 and is usually discounted on SteamVR. Therefore, it makes a budget-friendly rhythm game option that provides no less than its greatest competition. The only downside was the lack of active players, which is also correlated to the rather small amount of custom songs.
The team of VR Today Magazine had a blast experimenting with Synth Riders – the game was fun, easy to navigate, and provided us with hours of entertainment and an additional body exercise. If you find the tunes to fit your musical taste, Synth Riders will offer you either a chill or an intense VR rhythm experience, which will not only be a feast for your ears but also a great way to stay active.