The RPS Verdict: Audiosurf

By RPS on March 3rd, 2008 at 12:19 pm.

Like some sort of lumbering clockwork giant, the RPS Hivemind has duly constructed the second instalment of its new Monday feature – discussing a recent game of note, then casting a vote upon its worth. No ludicrous letter-based scoring systems here, though – simply, to buy, or not to buy? That is our question.

This time around, it’s award-winning synaesthesia game Audiosurf. We’ve waffled about it a fair bit on RPS previously, so you’d presume we all loved it, right? You may be surprised. You may be less surprised to see our thin veil of camaraderie ripped aside to reveal the snidey barbs, self-interest and hypocrisy beneath. Rock, Paper, Shotgun – like an old, married couple arguing about groceries.

Note – Alec’s on vague ringmaster duties for this one (also abstaining from the final vote), as his opinions about the game are due to appear in the next issue of PC Gamer UK.

Alec – so, Audiosurf. It’s an indie game all about music – your music, as opposed to somebody else’s nasty licensed tracks. Each song is quickly run through dark magicks that then generate a track that visually represents the song – your job, meanwhile, is to collect or avoid coloured blocks that appear in it. Wipeout meets Rez meets match-3, essentially. Is its core idea a success?

John – If its core idea is to generate a racetrack based on the graphical equalisery output of the song, and then have you race along it, yes. Is it everything it could have been? No – I think it falls quite short of the ideas anyone will have the first time they play it.

Kieron – It’s the tricky thing, I guess – “It’s not everything it could be” is such a pointless thing to say. Is there anything else like it? No. It’s like playing Doom and noting that it’d be amazing if the Monsters talked. Yeah, true, but…

John – I meant something more specific than that – clearly I’m not saying, “It’s imperfect in some way and therefore I’m complaining.” Kieron knows better than that. The point is, the first time I played it I made assumptions about the sorts of thing it was likely to do, and was then disappointed to find it didn’t do them. It feels like the halfway stage of a really brilliant game. I thoroughly enjoy playing it, but always with the strong nag that there’s a big ingredient missing.

Alec – To what extent is it fair to put such expectations on Audiosurf? Is it trying to be a really brilliant game first and foremost, or to be a companion to music?

Jim – The point about Audiosurf is that it’s one of those pieces of design that is interesting because you haven’t quite seen it before. I mean there are parallel games, such as phase, but Audiosurf is pure PC indie design: super-accessible, totally comprehensible, and slightly magical. It’s also straddling all kinds of genres at once that makes it fairly tricky to judge. I’m not sure I want a companion to music, in the sense that I don’t really use those light-generation toy things, so the fact that the game is flawed becomes a bigger deal.

John – I agree with Jim. It IS more involved than a Winamp plugin, or a musical accompaniment. It’s an involved game that’s orientated around gaining a high score. It sits between these two places – a relaxing visual toy, and a fast-paced high-score-em-up. But because it’s in neither, I always feel that nag.

Alec – Does everyone feel that way?

Kieron – To be honest, I’m tempted to say something like that people who don’t like like Audiosurf pretty much don’t like music. But that’s over-defensive, innit?

John – Sigh.

Alec – Would Audiosurf work at all if you were stuck with whatever music was built in?

Jim – no, I don’t think it would. The magic is in seeing your track transformed into light and this flowing puzzle. The problem for me, i think, is that it’s a puzzle game that I find a bit awkward. This is what John was talking about, i think – “what if” it were a racing game?

John – Or even, “what if” it were a puzzle game? The problem is, that match 3 game at the bottom of the screen isn’t very good. Everything else is joyous. It’s sublime to swoop down your favourite record. But it’s got a bit of a crappy block game in the way.

Kieron – I think crappy is a simplification. The problem with Audiosurf is that the concentration you take to really make the block game work is entirely the opposite of what you need to do to feel the music. The two parts of the game can tug at each other a little, at least at first. On one hand, a zone game. On the other, a high-speed sorting puzzle.

John – So do you think it’s a good high-speed sorting puzzle? Or a good enough one?

Kieron – I think it really doesn’t matter how good or bad a sorting game it is. The concentration takes you away from the music. Which is why people tend to travitate towards mono.

Jim – But would I pay money for a high speed sorting puzzle game? Probably not.

John – It’s interesting that people have immediately made the simplest game their favourite. You’re still engaged with the track in a way, but you don’t have to ignore the tune.

Jim – Again, i’d go with the guitar hero thing – the output the track creates is amazing, the output you create, as the user, is less interesting in Guitar hero it’s *your* output that rocks.

Alec – How could your output be done better in Audiosurf?

John – I think if you take Mono – Mono is about dodging blocks, not collecting them. To a point. You’re still chasing the colours, but you’re working very hard to avoid the grey. And that makes me feel much more *involved* with the tune. So what if the tracks were more like obstacle courses? Not stupidly so, but much more about steering your way through the tune?

Jim – perhaps it was a case of a game that didn’t identify its best game mode strongly enough?

Alec – On the other hand, you’ve got some players saying mono is cheating. How much should we be thinking of this as a game of skill?

Kieron – Well, it’s got those high score tables. They’re there for a reason. And that the other modes do take so much more skill than mono grates on those people who *have* learned to play ‘em. But there’s an odd twist to this. I mean… I get the strongest, highest, purest music kick from the other modes, not mono. Am I alone?

Alec – As moderator, I can’t possibly say I completely disagree with you.

John – It’s not fair to suggest that someone who doesn’t enjoy another mode hasn’t learned to play them properly. I have found that when I play them, and get big scores with them, I’ve enjoyed the process a lot less than I did on Mono.

Alec – To what extent do the main activities of those other modes feel tied into the music?

Jim – I think about 50% of the time I played Audiosurf I spend marvelling at the ways in which the tracks formed form the music, and the other 50% of the time getting annoyed because the game mode wasn’t helping me enjoy the music. I’ve not persisted with Audiosurf as much as you guys, and that because I feel there’s a real disconnect for most of what I’m doing.

Kieron – Well, the biggest connect is kicking Alec and John‘s skinny asses.

John – I beat Kieron and Alec‘s Wuthering Heights score on my *fourth* go at the game. Which proves I’m best.

Jim – Perhaps that’s another issue for me then: high score battles aren’t usually what i get a kick out of.

John – I think that’s a reason why I’m very impressed with Audiosurf. VERY few games ever engage me with high scores. The last one I can think of is Zoo Keeper. That sort of willy waving never normally grabs me. But with AS, my willy’s a waving.

Jim – And in the game?

Alec – So why does the high score mechanic engross here, but not in The Club?

Kieron – Well, the high score mechanism worked for me fine on the Club. It’s you guys who had problems with it. [An incorrect statement – the group’s shared concern was the presentation, not the idea – RPS Hivemind-at-large]. I’m very much fine with the oldest skool high score chasing. But I also think it’s kind of only part of what A-surf is about. There’s that exploratory side of it too – exploring your record collection and seeing what they turn out like.

Jim – Which is tied into what we did talk about with the club, which was the payout for playing thing, with Audiosurf the payout is the track itself.

John – It’s peculiarly rewarding when you put in a song that generates a loop. That’s a stupid thing to feel pleased about, but feel pleased I do.

Kieron – Exactly – the way I see Audiosurf’s future is something people return to and dabble with. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Devs do patches to change bits of the visualiser. So when they release a patch, people drag it out again. It’s not going to be something people play for months. And, for a fiver, it’s got no reason to be.

Jim – yeah, there’s a whiff of game alchemy to it.

Alec – I suspect it has the perpetuity of Peggle. Whenever I’m not sure what to do for 10 minutes, I pull up audiosurf and try a new song. Or am I deluded? Is this a gimmick I’ll grow tired of?

John – I really wish you could make a playlist for that. I’d like to play an album, for instance. Or line up the best Steinman tracks.

Kieron – I think you’d drive yourself mad thinking about the future in games.

Jim – it’s a fucking awesome gimmick, to be honest

Kieron – Gimmicks are awesome. They’ve got a bad name. And, yeah, that you have to put all your songs in a folder to play a series is a little bit unfortunate. As is being unable to just select “Play last song” or whatever from a list.

John – Was anyone surprised when it didn’t win the IGF top award?

Kieron – I wasn’t. It’s the sort of game which your can reduce down to its parts and it becomes less than its sum. On a personal poll though, I’d have chosen it above Crayon Physics.

Jim – no, World of Goo and Crayon Physics are more valuable to me, I think. Audiosurf was justly rewarded.

John – I was really hoping for World of Goo or Crayon Physics too. But part of me thinks that Audiosurf has achieved more than those two games. It’s achieved an accessibility and immediacy that few games manage.

Kieron – it’s going to sell more than both, I can bet it. I suspect it’ll sell so many that the people who it doesn’t work for will have a sizeable backlash.

Jim – It’s been number one on Steam since it came out, I think

Kieron – Oh, I’m not saying the other ones won’t sell – I think all of them will clear up.

Jim – I wonder if there’s a gamers-appreciation-of-music thing tied into Audiosurf. I mean, the pace of it is going make it a relatively tricky gaming experience. It’s not something my mum or my sister would be able to cope with

Kieron – I dunno, man. Mono isn’t much harder than Gutar Hero

Alec – So Audiosurf is as much as success because it’s a sort of geek wish-fulfilment as because of its actual qualities?

Jim – I dunno if it can be wish fulfillment, if no one was wishing for it. I don’t think we were all thinking about the connect between games and music

Alec – But we were all playing Guitar Hero and wishing we could stick our favourite music into it. Audiosurf says “fuck it, why not?” and provides the scaffolding of a game around it

Kieron – I agree with that, actually. The magic of audiosurf, at least partially, is that it takes you to a place which is both completely alien and totally familiar

JohnKieron, I want to know something about what you were saying earlier. You have a much more involved relationship with music than most people I know – like some sort of disgusting musical gynaecologist who’s in it for all the dirtiest of reasons. You seemed to suggest that Audiosurf seems to embellish that for you?

Kieron – That it translates the topography of the songs into the topography of a (new) level… well, it’s a really intimate thing. It’s interesting in that the hardest (or at least the highest scoring) part of the track on the non-mono modes is also the most musically intense bits. Like those walls of red on Wuthering Heights. So if you *can* do it, and get that score it’s an enormous pay off – the music meshes with your success and its overwhelming. I’m not even joking about crying while playing a few times. I don’t think anything has ever done synaesthesia as well for me. It’s just incredible.

John – I can’t imagine it ever making me cry. I feel like I’m missing out on something.

Jim – it’s an emotion we call “love”

So – VOTE! Do we love the game they call “Audiosurf”?

Kieron – I’ll buy it and view those who think otherwise with suspicion. And Fear.

John – I think it’s great. I can’t help but wish it was more of an obstacle course than a match-3 game. But I would think someone who actively disliked it to be troubling.

Jim – I’d buy it, but I can see people thinking it a waste of a fiver.

And so, our scores, with help from our special guest thumb, Optimus Prime. Your votes, gentlemen please:


Our verdict: Sale!

Kieron – Do we want a post-score jokey thing like last time? Like, favourite audiosurf track?

Jim – i hate jokes! And music.

Kieron – Which is odd, Jim. As your music taste *is* a joke.

Jim – wheee!

Kieron – Wheee!

Alec – I can’t see Tom Waits working on it, certainly.

Jim – Actually it works pretty well. Well, the madder, later stuff does

Alec – I would strongly recommend The Who’s Baba O’Reily (that one out of CSI and stuff) and Little Spanish Flea, which makes me cry hot tears of hysterical laughter.

John – Detachable Penis by King Missile is a brilliant track. It works so well.

Kieron – Wuthering Heights. Still. Though Wolf Like Me by TV on the Radio and Dizzee’s I Luv U are great too.

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55 Comments »

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  1. Savage says:

    Had a go of the demo, using the TF2 tracks, which were fun.

    Cool game, I agree that the block matching game is a bit naff, but could be improved.

    I think the real appeal of AS will be the ‘Barcode Battler’ aspect of finding the sorts of tunes that produce killer tracks and sharing/debating that with your mates.

  2. The_B says:

    I’d agree that, on some level, AudioSurf does tap into our most prehistoric gaming tendacies – especially those of high scores, and the Barcode Battler effect mentioned above. I feel that the using your own songs mechanic is an extrememly powerful one for the longevity of the game.

    But yeah, I’m also very much looking forward to World of Goo as well, the preview Chapter alone giving a fantastic feeling, especially when you work out the trick on the last level, which would be criminal to reprint and spoil here.

  3. Optimaximal says:

    Alec – I suspect it has the perpetuity of Peggle. Whenever I’m not sure what to do for 10 minutes, I pull up audiosurf and try a new song. Or am I deluded? Is this a gimmick I’ll grow tired of?

    This is the crux of the game for me. I could just as easily drop-in and play a game of CoD4 or TF2 if I had a spare 5 minutes, but Audiosurf wins on the accessibility and quick-play fronts by a clear mile.

    I do only tend to play Mono because, as mentioned, I find the silly block matching puzzle that is integral to the other modes annoying and detracting from my favourite music…

    I’m still punishing myself by trying to get at least one Stealth Ninja achievement on Temple of Love by the Sisters of Mercy…

    Alec – So why does the high score mechanic engross here, but not in The Club?

    I think the deciding factor here is that The Club costs between £17.99 & £34.99 (depending on where you shop) whereas Audiosurf costs £6 and includes pretty much the entire soundtrack back-catalogue for all Valve’s games.

    It’s a psychological Value-For-Money thing…

  4. Piccoro_A says:

    i played on casual with pointman and i disagree with Kieron (“The concentration takes you away from the music.”)
    you have to feel the rhythm cuz it’s affecting the speed

    try out “Rip Slyme – Super Shooter” its fast and fun :)

  5. Zeno, Internetographer says:

    I’m apathetic to Audiosurf for the same reason I’m apathetic to Guitar Hero: I really don’t care that much about music.

    Also, yeah, the match-3 thing was stupid and ill-conceived. I just went willy-nilly on it.

  6. James says:

    To reply on the count of it not being something you could show to a non-gamer, an anecdote:

    My sister is not a gamer. This is not to say that she finds them silly or inane – she enjoys watching the fast cars and the big, crazy explosions. But she will never, ever sit down and finish a game, or often pick up the controller at all.

    While I personally enjoyed Audiosurf quite a bit, it was never going to be the sort of thing I played for days on end. So after a few days, I was playing the game with my headphones on and she appears over my shoulder. She watched quietly for a while, tapping me on the shoulder to ask me what I was doing. I explained to her what the aim of the game was, and she seemed a little amazed, asking me if I could maybe show her what one of her CD’s would look like. So I played one song, and eventually she asked if she could have a turn.

    She played the first song, asking all the common questions but she kept on smiling throughout. Then she played another song, and then another, and then five more after that. It remained that way until dinner.

    It was magical to watch a game be so wholly accessible to a non-gamer. It reached out and grabbed someone from a completely different circle of interests, and for that alone I think it deserves a whole lot of my praise. I don’t know if that’s entirely logical, but it remains nonetheless.

  7. JJ says:

    I agree with the notion that the thing that will make Audiosurf a classic game is the chosing of the track (me to my gf that liked it very much too: you’re not realling going to try Abba are you? Please dont…)

  8. arqueturus says:

    I’m for mono all the way.

    For sheer comedy value try Viva Las Vegas by Elvis.

    Oh, and all Chemical Brothers tracks seem to work on it fantastically too. That reminds me, I must dig out Leftism…

  9. Tak says:

    I love AudioSurf for what it is, but I have to say I’m more looking forward to what this particular style of track generation leads to in future developements. We have mounds of data on the PC just sitting at our fingertips. What about something that parses out a .txt? Or something that generates a track from the various file extension types in a particular directory? I’m sure there are other ideas out there, equally nerdy, and I know not all of them will work, but in my mind the further we move away from pre-generated or designer-defined content and into dynamic content, the better off gaming, as a whole, will be.

    That’s not a stab at designers, either, I know some (well, one :p) and am trying to break into the industry myself, but for lasting appeal the ability for the user to define their experience on their own terms is essential.

    AudioSurf – AVG edition? Surf while you scan!

    EDIT: James nailed why I feel the way I do about it. Good to see more come into the warm fuzzy embrace of gaming!

  10. essell says:

    “I’m not even joking about crying while playing a few times.”

    No waaaay. That sounds hilarious to watch.

    What was the track?

  11. marxeil says:

    You are all missing the point of this game. You need to consume some narcotic substance in one form or another, and then it becomes GOTY material.

  12. Optimaximal says:

    That’s a mindset that Monolith tapped with Tron 2.0 – the fact that every level was a distinct parody of the current computing vernacular with stuff like .txt files & emails, firewalls, viruses and the formatting of a computer represented by an unstoppable wall of bright white nothingness a.k.a. a blank slate…

  13. Dinger says:

    There was a DigiPen student project a few years back called FSFPS or something, which purported to use your file system (or a part thereof) to create a map, into which you inserted attacking viruses and whatnot. If you hit a music file, it would play.
    The game was too busy for me to get working, but you can imagine the kinda fun user-provided content will provide. Think Duke Nukem where the movie in the theatre ccomes off of your harddrive (‘gee what are all these prostitutes doing in a theater that shows exclusively Looney Tunes?’).

    Part of the fun of AudioSurf is how the scoring is linked to a specific song. Certain songs they get so scratched into our system, and now you can “pwn” the songs you own. What? Someone’s beaten my Time on Suspect Device? I’ll show those rock-n-roll losers!

  14. Rodafowa says:

    I thoroughly recognise Alec’s comment about being drawn back to Audiosurf in spare moments to see what it makes of different songs (my favourite so far – Car Fiction by Echobelly. White-knuckle ride a-go-go!). I’m not sure it’s a great game, but it’s a fantastic toy.

    Oh, and I am the best at the proper, non-cheaty album-version Vision Thing, beating television’s famous Kieron Gillen into second place. Hurrah!

  15. Kadayi says:

    Mono is fun because you know that it’s all about making an optimal scoring sequence, using a finite number of blocks. I’ve racked up a bunch of top scores for various tracks and it’s fun to get the email telling you you’ve been toppled and then win them back again. :)

    I think there’s still a lot of work the developer needs to do with the game yet (preview scores would be great), but I’m sure these things will come.

  16. Turin Turambar says:

    it’s a high speed puzzle, yes. If you like high sped arcades, or puzzles, but not both things at the same time, you won’t like the game.

    If you don’t have a problem with the idea, then you will like it. :)

  17. lalahsghost says:

    I volunteer at a local youth center, and one day being bored and not wanting to run around the gym, I brought my lappy with me that has all my lovely steam games. I chose a first grader to try out audiosurf to see if these rurally impoverished and underdeveloped children were able to understand the grasp of the game… lets just say it was a hit. AKA they nommed it up. Oh, and I like it too.

  18. tom says:

    vib ribbon anyone?
    vibri is always gonna win, shes too cute not too!

  19. Stromko says:

    I’d have to say my enjoyment of Audiosurf has everything to do with my enjoyment of music.

    The competitive highscore mechanic also isn’t usually my cup of tea, but when I’m competing for a high score on a Star Control 2 remix, or my favorite Gorillaz track … Well, suddenly I give a damn! Also, trying again and again in order to earn an Achievement can be fun if I actually enjoy the song.

    The game itself is really completely basic, even though it can be very challenging. I still haven’t earned Stealth on elite mono, yet I’m not being intellectually or creatively challenged while playing.

    I think AS is golden when you approach it as listening to a great song that you want an excuse to listen to, and you have a game on top of it.

  20. Alec Meer says:

    I think AS is golden when you approach it as listening to a great song that you want an excuse to listen to, and you have a game on top of it.

    Yeah, that’s key to its appeal for me. Active engagement with a song I fancy hearing, so I feel as though I’m doing something more worthwhile than just zoning out or warbling along with it.

  21. Theory says:

    Hey, Spanish Flea really is amazing!

  22. jamsarnie says:

    Not many games get my girlfriends attention, but AudioSurf has managed it. the good thing is, she enjoys watching it almost as much as i enjoy playing it (like i need an excuse).

    It’s appeal definately comes from exploring your favourite tracks, enjoying them visually and interacting with them in new ways.

    It’s such a good feeling when you ‘get’ a song, and the you feel the rhythm, becoming one with it. Then there’s the added bonus of a lovely high score at the end. **cough** look at me! **cough** ;)

    Very addictive and great value for my money, so I can’t ask more than that.

  23. Rockeye says:

    I’ve been really enjoying audiosurf. I agree that one of the main attractions is rooting through your music collection in search of something that will make an awesome track. It’s great to just stick an album on and play your way through it.

    I tend to stick to the mono modes as I think they tend to flow better with the music. They certainly don’t lessen my enjoyment of the music like the other modes can (overfilling a column and respawning is a real mood killer).

  24. dartt says:

    Jim, I think you have great taste in music. Don’t listen to what the nasty boys say.

  25. Alex Hopkinson says:

    It’s been one of my favourite gaming experiences of the year so far, that’s for sure. I keep thinking that I’ve not played it as much as I should only to discover I’ve already spent in excess of 20 hours bopping along. It’s disappointing when a song you expect to work wonderfully turns into a “race track” as slow and uneventful as it gets but that’s countered by the delight when something unexpected is converted into some mad swirl of bends, corkscrews and speedy bits.

  26. Alex says:

    This really is a game to play for relaxation.

    Kieron, I’d recommend Province instead of Wolf Like Me. It’s absolutely fantastic in AS. The world lights up and then explodes. :)

  27. JohnG says:

    Having played the demo I’m in the “meh” camp. It just does nothing for me.

    Whoop-de-do a race track that’s vaguely related to the music, sorry, I’ve seen better audio reactive visuals that the track is a distinct “meh” in terms of changing with the music. And the game part is just dull.

  28. McCool says:

    I would actually disagree that the modes other than Mono take too much concentration away from the track. I’ve found that the proper play style, for, say Eraser (the mode for people who are willing to make mistakes, like me) you keep a part of your mind focused intensely on the track, and everything that is about to happen, the beat of it, and the colours that are coming up. The other half of your brain is working from your short-term memory of what you have on your palette, as you should never really have time to go down and look at it, your main focus should always be the beat, and the track ahead.

    I can just never get a kick out of mono, anyway. I want to be immensed in a song, scoring points -with- it, not trying to avoid bits of it. I mean seriously, who, when listening to their favourate music, is constantlytrying to avoid certain beats? Thats just way to negative for my liking. Thats not what music is about ….man.

  29. matte_k says:

    One of the things I like about Audiosurf is the fact it generates forum threads like these, where people are discussing their music tastes and recommending favourites to other people who would not normally have heard a particular song from someone else’s collection. It’s inspiring musical exchange without any of the usual “your music is crap” arguments associated with most music taste discussions/disagreements.

    For myself, seeing “Detachable Penis” by King Missile and “Suspect Device” by Stiff Little Fingers mentioned here is a joy, as is seeing The Sisters of Mercy and Leftfield’s “Leftism”. If I realise I have a record that’s mentioned, it makes me want to try a track on it immediately.

  30. McCool says:

    Btw, David Bowie’s “Sound And Vision” is fittingly awesome for this game. Generally, the stronger and more unsusual the beat and the more variation in rhythm provided, the better the track.

  31. poullos says:

    Pointman ftw!
    Not the type of games 12-18 play. This is for us guys who come home late, play with our kid and relax with 2-3 rides before moving to TF 2. :)

  32. Mike says:

    AudioSurf has been a half-hour winddown every night since its release. Always do a run of The Divine Comedy’s Tonight We Fly before bed, folks.

    The note about the game sometimes working against the song is spot on, but I feel that games like Eraser become almost subconscious, which is a lovely feeling. You know roughly what colours you want, and you sort of gaze into the monitor and shuffle left and right in time to the music. Great stuff.

  33. Captain Bland says:

    “AudioSurf has been a half-hour winddown every night since its release. Always do a run of The Divine Comedy’s Tonight We Fly before bed, folks.”

    To Die A Virgin is also fantastic. In the game :(

  34. Champagne O'Leary says:

    I do have to ask, KG, why are you crying at the song while playing Audiosurf? Do you not cry to it otherwise because you don’t listen to it that closely, or concentrate on it, or is it something of a more worrying sign about your relationship with games?

  35. Kieron Gillen says:

    Essell: Wuthering Heights. And I’m talking Brings-tears-to-eyes rather than weeping, btw. And not every time. It hit hardest first time.

    Champagne: I may end up doing a piece for RPS about Audiosurf. I have some ideas about Audiosurf as a music-amplifier, and how the game mechanics – at their best – can enhance the experience of the record. At the least, you’re paying very, very close attention to it in a way you may not be doing otherwise – also, by seeing it in a new way, you kind of approach it anew with a fresh palette.

    KG

  36. Morningoil says:

    Disclosure: I love Audiosurf.

    And I play it in two different ways: if I want to try to get the top score in the world, I’ll usually play Pointman Elite (though I’m still completely pwned at 15 Steps :( ) – and for that my competitiveness with regard to getting the high score is totally brought out by this game, which is odd, cos it’s not usually something I’m bothered about.

    If I want to enjoy a track, I’ll play Mono, usually just Pro cos then I’m stressing less about the game and enjoying the music more (tip: – seriously – The Burning Crusade soundtrack is just *awesome* for Mono).

    But where I think Audiosurf 2 can improve? Better reactive graphics – more variety in those graphics – and possibly user customisation of those graphics too. As it stands it’s only a kind of a half a trip.

    Also, customisation of the way tracks are formed.

    Lastly – and this might be impossible, I don’t know – keying the sfx into the music, Lumines style?? That would be amazing.

  37. Champagne O'Leary says:

    The more I play with it, the more I pick my songs, the more I relax and realise it’s about picking my moments. I didn’t mean to sound so harsh, I’ve just been struggling to come to terms with the game until spending more time with it tonight. The game doesn’t panic me like it used to, and I appreciate anything that draws me into a song, but I’m still at the stage where I’m too involved in the blocks to fully listen. That will change with time.

    I still think the song remains the star of the show. The game, for now, is a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine down. Except the medicine’s tasty too.

  38. Thomas Lawrence says:

    Here’s the thing: Mono sucks because you have to avoid 70% of the blocks, and all the rest are one colour only. As a result, you lose the synaesthetic elements of collecting blocks as the corresponding bits of the song are played (because they’re probably grey and you’re having to avoid them) AND you lose the whole linkage between colour and the “intensity” of the track at that point.

    The other modes, however, suck because there are too many colours to easily co-ordinate at speed, and yet the penalty for “overfilling” is jarring, horrible and ruins your “immersion” in the track.

    I’d like to see a “stereo” mode, where there’s two colours (say red and green), and no grey. That wouldn’t be too difficult so far as the block-matching went, but you wouldn’t have to avoid blocks, and some of the colour-synaesthesia would be maintained.

    EDIT: Pointman (not Pro or Elite, just the regular Pointman) is pretty good – only three colours. Unfortunately it gets the less cool rainbow colur scheme as well.

  39. Morningoil says:

    “I may end up doing a piece for RPS about Audiosurf. I have some ideas about Audiosurf as a music-amplifier, and how the game mechanics – at their best – can enhance the experience of the record.”

    Right – this is also true. For instance – I think I’ve mentioned playing Burial tracks elsewhere on the site – through Audiosurf, I gained a new appreciation of the rhythmic intricacy of those songs and how that intricacy contributes to their total effect. ‘Can’ is the operative word, of course – but I think the potential is certainly there.

  40. Cigol says:

    It gives me an excuse to enjoy my music. Can’t fault it myself but I do believe the sequel will have to take it to the next level.

  41. RobotLiberationArmy says:

    I’ve really enjoyed Audiosurf pretty much universally. I actually enjoyed the match-3 modes as well as mono.

  42. Alex says:

    Can’t fault it myself but I do believe the sequel will have to take it to the next level.

    Which is exactly why I don’t see the need for a sequel, really.

  43. Dinger says:

    Okay, one more comment, because AS is cool:
    Again, user-provided, as opposed to user-generated, content is the key here. But basically, it’s an excuse to listen to music, and play a little game that takes its cues from said music. You get a new perspective on your tunes: suddenly a lurchy Los Angeles, I’m Yours isn’t a lyrically precious and rather trite tribute to Colin’s overinflated rockstar ego, but a pulsing demon from hell demanding your soul between jolts across multicolored blocks.

    I can see the attraction to mono: it makes things simple as you focus in and maybe you’ll overcome the obstacles. And if the color game is too tricky, remember: there’s no shame in selecting “casual”. It’s a matter of finding the right balance between enjoying the music and enjoying the game. After all, if you play “So Long Marianne” on Pro, you’ll quickly find it’s a handful.
    And that ain’t right.
    Come to think of it, many of the greatest rock-n-roll songs involve heroin: why do we feel compelled to play them on anything but the simplest levels?
    You always play to win, but I won’t need rehabilitating.

  44. Thiefsie says:

    I bought into the hype, pre-ordered it without trying it first, and ultimately played it just about enough times to do all modes and then got over it… never to touch it again. The actual game part is no fun, and yep it takes away from my ‘listening’ experience of music.

    Most irritating to me is the way the blocks hover away from your car for a while and then suddenly surge on the beat and only on the beat – they don’t come to you at a constant speed relative to the music… which is buggery annoying to me

  45. Scott says:

    I’m totally in love, or at least an unhealthy, torrid lust, with Audiosurf. It’s one of my favorite casual/quick-play games, only (possibly) exceeded by Nikujin.

    Just a thought, which other people have likely brought up, but for which I am too busy (read: lazy) to search; These “RPS Verdict” bits would make excellent podcasts.

  46. Iain says:

    First things first: I adore Audiosurf. I’ve plugged more hours into it over the last week than the rest of my games combined. I’ve tried all the characters, but the one I like best is Mono.

    Mono is best played with really intense tracks that give you high traffic densities – things like Moby, Mogwai and Royksopp all work well here, even something like Four Little Diamonds on the GTA: Vice City soundtrack will really give you a sense of the how the blocks tie in with the music, as the blocks do change colour with the pace of the track and the road really starts to surge at you.

    I play mostly with the Mono characters, because it is simplest and most fun – it allows you to enjoy the music and the mechanics of the game, whereas if I play with the other characters, because I play mainly on tracks with high traffic densities, there’s invariably too much to think about – I can’t keep an eye on the scoring grid AND watch the road ahead of me to plan which blocks I want to collect, so I get frustrated with accidentally overfilling and I’m not enjoying the music any more.

    I picture playing Audiosurf with the Mono characters as like driving a runaway HGV down a motorway, in the middle of rush hour at 150mph, having to manoeuvre around some vehicles, but being able to safely smash others out of the way – play with a track that has a traffic density somewhere above 250, and it’s like 3D Deathchase on LSD *and* Speed. It is absolutely phenomenal. I’m sure it could be improved (an instant access playlist of your previously played tracks would be super, for example) but for a fiver, I’m hardly complaining – it’s the best value £5 I’m going to spend this year, for sure.

  47. Paul says:

    Playing ‘Steve Reich’ (at least Octet, and Music for a Large Ensemble) is quite the gaming experience.

  48. Dagda says:

    I think that a key to improving the mental connection between playing the game and enjoying the music would be to tweak which blocks in mono were grey or colored. If about 20% more blocks were colored instead of grey, and they corresponded to the loudest beats more than just the more unusual ones, then we’d get alot more cases where the user is rewarded for hitting beats in time with the song. In DDR, mastering a track begins with memorizing a song and taking your cues from the music. It’s a shame the same can’t be said of Audiosurf.

  49. Kieron Gillen says:

    Thiefsie : For me that’s the point and the difficulty of it – in that it’s that sense of how beats in pop aren’t just a metronome, but a texture in and of themselves.

    KG

  50. Doug Farrell says:

    Well, it’s taken near nightly tries, but I finally cracked the top 10 on Wuthering Heights. Now that you folks have got me interested in hearing more Kate Bush, what would you recommend next?