In many ways, it’s Guitar Hero without inhibitions. You’re not chained to whatever noxious cock rock the publishers could afford rights to, and the overall game-ness is relaxed. Simple mouse or cursor-key controls ease the need for extreme dexterity, but moreover there is no failure here, only self-improvement or the endless hunt for The Perfect Track. Mostly, you play Audiosurf for your own satisfaction, not to meet the game’s expectations. There’s one exception to that, which is competing with a friend who seems to share your musical values. Whatever algorithms are behind Audiosurf seem to reflect how people react to music as much as to how a piece is structured.
All that said, look past your love of pop music and Audiosurf is a plain and skinny creature. The core mechanics of weaving left and right, stacking colors to bump up your score, cursing when you net the wrong one and kill your combo, have very little to do with the song: only the shape and speed of the track is meaningfully affected. Analyze Audiosurf and it’s plain its musical analysis is often vague; sometimes it amounts to nothing more than slow bits easy, fast bits hard. For those who demand the classical values of mechanical efficiency from their games, that may prove an insurmountable barrier to fun. For anyone else, that’s simply not the point. It’s about games and music sheepishly holding hands in public. The resulting couple may not be Brangelina-photogenic, but you can’t deny they look good together.
The late Kurt Vonnegut once said “If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.” If you don’t feel at least a little bit the same way, Audiosurf may well be meaningless. It hinges on the thrill of wondering how it’s going to treat whatever you next throw at it, and those glorious moments when the entire game seems created specifically for the song you’re playing. If music is purely functional to you, so too will be Audiosurf. If, however, music is the closest thing you have to a religion, then consider Audiosurf your new church.
Feb 28, 2008
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