Have You Played… Audiosurf?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Girls Aloud song Biology isn’t just a piece of music to me, it’s a landscape. This because of the hours spent playing it over and over in Audiosurf [Steam page], an obstacle-dodging score attack game that captivated everyone in my social circle (and RPS) in 2008.

Everyone I know played the game on the same mode, Ninja Mono, which carved away the harsher edges of the game’s challenge in favor of the simple task of hitting as many of the blocks as possible. This was because the real power of the game was in its ability to connect you, on some greater emotional level, to whatever music you were playing from your hard drive at the time. Biology is already all bouncing rhythm and driving chorus, but the impact is amplified when you are actually bouncing, driving, and tumbling down a procedurally generated, neon race track.

There’s now a sequel in Audiosurf 2, which initially failed to re-capture the highs of the first album game, but which I hear has massaged its modes and methods across its lengthy early access.

Still, my heart will always belong to the original. Here’s a trailer:


  1. Thulsa Hex says:

    This was the first game I ever bought on Steam (though I had to install it because of Half-Life 2). Who could have predicted where that was going to lead to today.

    • Jalan says:

      Also the first game I bought. Hundreds of hours on it, no regrets. Not even one.

  2. Da5e says:

    I had a back-and-forth battle with an anonymous internet stranger over the high scores to a whole load of Discordance Axis songs on this. The way it emails you when you get ‘dethroned’ is a genius idea that keeps me coming back every time I get a message that BR00TALSLAMZ420XXX has beaten my Mono Pro score on some obscure horrible black metal release…

  3. Dances to Podcasts says:

    Audiosurf is about finding the most obscure song on your pc and being the world’s greatest player in that.

    • Carra says:

      This sums it up nicely. I’m probably still champion at De Zangeres Zonder Naam – Mexico. Beat that!

    • April March says:

      That’s how I play it as well. I call it Hipster Mode. (And I’m the world champion of like ten songs, so I’m the master hipster. The mapster.)

    • cshralla says:

      I’m still #1 beast in several Captain Dan & The Scurvy Crew songs. It doesn’t help that the songs are cataloged by their waveform (which in practice makes sense because the track will be a bit different), so you can have as many different versions of a song with their own individual leaderboards as there were rips of the track.

    • El_Emmental says:

      Then finding out that several people, like you, extracted the audio from that obscure Youtube remix/Internet culture patchwork from the mid-2000s to play it on Audiosurf. And they’ve been fighting over the scoreboard for months. I’m A Little Snowflake: failed! – There’s Other People Like Me: success! :D

  4. JD Ogre says:

    Yes. Yes I have. At least a hundred hours (over 150 registered on Steam, so knock it down to 2/3rds to account for alt-tab time). Sadly, most of it’s in Mono ‘cos the puzzle modes hurt my brain with all their colors. :(

  5. Oneiromancer says:

    “Everyone I know played the game on the same mode, Ninja Mono”

    I didn’t really know anyone who played Audiosurf so this statement made me happy that other people approached the game like I did. My musical tastes tend to be “classic rock and indie folk deep cuts” so I rarely saw more than a few people on the leaderboards for the songs I played; and I wasn’t sure if this reflected differences in taste or game mode.

    • April March says:

      The leaderboards show everyone.

    • Shadowcat says:

      I played “Double Vision” almost exclusively. I enjoyed controlling both vehicles simultaneously — I found “Mono” kinda dull by comparison — but I hated how the higher difficulties punished you for mistakes by leaving you unable to pick things up for a few seconds, so I only ever played it on the easy setting (but that was fine).

  6. Distec says:

    Audiosurf was sometimes weird with song difficulty. I should be able to throw in any random Venetian Snares track and give my mouse-hand a proper workout. Still, it’s great when you find a sweetspot.

  7. Synesthesia says:

    Come to daddy from aphex twin makes one of the most extreme audiosurf landscapes ever. Do it. Do it now.

  8. Michael Fogg says:

    How well does this work with anything involving blast-beats?

  9. Jalan says:

    Played? Pfft, more like lived and breathed for multiple years. Started out with Mono(s), quickly graduated to more taxing puzzle modes, eventually settled on Vegas as a sweet spot. As the name would suggest, getting the big score involves a kiss of luck but shouldn’t be written off as requiring “no skill” to play.

  10. Papageno says:

    Absolutely adore this game still, although I haven’t played it in a while, admittedly. For me also, it was my first Steam purchase after Half-Life 2 and the Orange Box.

    A favorite track for me? Devo’s “That’s Good.”

  11. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    The best songs are the ones that start out slow and pick up from there. Politicians In My Eyes by Death is one of my favorites to play and I recall Bloc Party having a few songs that worked well.

  12. Jackablade says:

    65DaysofStatic is particularly good for Audiosurf. The slow build to hard-hitting crescendo that they used a lot on their earlier albums creates some great rollercoaster effects. “Retreat! Retreat!” and “I Swallowed Hard Like I Understood” are my picks.

  13. UnholySmoke says:

    British Sea Power – Remember Me
    TC – Rockstar

    Mental in this game. Mental.

  14. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Nope. Not available for Mac. Which I believe Audiosurf 2 was supposed to be, so I should check that out..

  15. Jernau Gurgeh says:

    I got this game on Steam in a bundle but have yet to play it. I realise this statement could probably be made about 67% of the games that 93% of people have on Steam. Please excuse my stating of the bleeding obvious.

    Anyway, I wonder how it would cope with Cardiacs? Most people I know have difficulty coping with Cardiacs.

  16. michaelberea says:

    If you have never played Monkey Bee in Audiosurf on Hard you should. It is an absolute blast. I normally avoid Hard modes, electronica, and Asian mythology, but this is one of my all-time top gaming experiences.