Charming Beat Saber alternative for PSVR 2


Beat the Beats review: Charming Beat Saber alternative for PSVR 2

Image: Parallel Circles

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Do you like to work out in challenging VR fitness or rhythm games? Then you should take a look at the not yet fully polished rough diamond called Beat the Beats.

Be it Beat Saber, Pistol Whip, Moon Rider, Ragnarock, Audioshield, Smash Drums, Audica or OhShape — the list of VR games with rhythm in their blood is long. With Beat the Beats from the small indie studio Parallel Circles, another candidate has been vying for the favor of players in this increasingly popular subgenre since February 27, 2024.

Beat the Beats is currently only available on PSVR 2, but PC and Meta Quest versions are also planned for the future. We’ve been through the PSVR 2 version’s song palette, changed sweaty T-shirts several times, and can tell you whether the game developed by just three people has any chance of competing with the heavyweights mentioned at the beginning.

Beat the Beats review in a nutshell

Beat the Beats combines typical rhythm gameplay with standard boxing moves, a nice indie soundtrack and a global leaderboards integrated into each mode.

The result really gets you sweating, but should be improved in areas such as game balance and mode variety for the planned PC and Meta Quest versions.

  • Tested on: PSVR 2
  • Available on: PSVR 2; in the future also for Meta Quest and PC

Beat the Beats is suitable for you if you…

  • like to use your VR headset to burn calories and keep fit
  • are enthusiastic about games with a minimalist graphic style
  • have already had fun with titles like Beat Saber and Tetris Effect

Beat the Beats is less suitable for you if you…

  • want to extensively customize the difficulty level of the game experience yourself
  • leaderboards are not enough for you as a competitive feature
  • value a large selection of songs from well-known artists in music games

That’s what Beat the Beats is all about

In Beat the Beats, the name says it all. While bright green and purple panels fly towards me to the rhythm of the music, I have to try to hit them as accurately as possible with typical boxing movements. The direction in which the panels approach varies again and again.

Approaching green panels must be hit with the left virtual hand, which is also colored green.

Approaching green panels must be hit with the left virtual hand, which is also colored green. | Image: Parallel Circles

If they come from the front, typical jabs are needed to pulverize them. If they come from the side in an arcing trajectory, well-timed hooks are required and if the panels fly in from above like a fountain, I have to neutralize them with uppercuts. In later songs, there are also stick-shaped panels that only shatter if I hold my outstretched forearm against them — as if I were blocking an incoming blow.

In all cases, the following applies: every correctly hit panel immediately explodes and causes a score counter to shoot up. If I don’t make a mistake, a combo counter also grows in the top right-hand corner of the screen. If, on the other hand, I miss a block, I lose one of my five life energy bars. The good news is that every song segment completed without error regenerates one energy bar. However, once all the health bars have been used up, it’s game over and I can try again as often as I like.

At the end of successfully mastered segments, Beat the Beats refills a life energy bar.

At the end of successfully completed song segments, Beat the Beats refills one health bar. | Image: Parallel Circles

To get me moving not only my arms but also my upper body, the developers also send me red triangles in the shape of snakes at regular intervals. Boxing away does not lead to the goal here, but skillful evasive movements do. To increase immersion, each successfully destroyed block is also accompanied by haptic feedback in the controller. The game confirms each successful upper body dodge with a perfectly timed vibration in the headset. In short, all the game mechanics mesh perfectly.

Strong song selection — but you won’t find any big names

The fact that Beat the Beats is really fun from the very first minute is not least due to the great song selection from genres such as pop, dance, and electronic. Although only songs by relatively unknown artists are used, almost all of them are very catchy and harmonize perfectly with the box movements. Tracks such as “Down the Drain” by Jane & The Boy, “Whip!” by Oliver Dodge and “Can’t Stop Me Now” by Captain Qubz are especially memorable.

The player has successfully completed a level with an S rating.

After each song a scoring screen appears. Here we have finished a track by The Catacombs with the best possible S rating. | Image: Parallel Circles

While Beat the Beats performs quite well in terms of core gameplay and song selection, it unfortunately falls short in other areas. In terms of game modes, for example, there are only three variants. Within “Arcade Mode”, I fight my way through a tutorial and six albums with five tracks each. In “Daily Mix”, on the other hand, I have to master five songs in a row that change daily.

That leaves “Quick Reaction”. Here I stand in front of a kind of wall with 25 squares that light up at random while music plays in the background. The faster I hit the squares that light up, the higher the score I get for each square. At the end, the game adds up the points and presents you with the score. It’s fun for a few rounds, but then quickly loses its appeal.

A multiplayer mode in which I can compete with other players online? Just as absent as a co-op mode. At least the makers have implemented a global ranking list for each song and mode as well as 25 challenges for trophy collectors. The “Perfectly Synchronized” trophy, for example, is yours as soon as you finish a song without making a mistake. If you destroy 25,000 blocks, you can call yourself the “Master of Beats” and so on.

Hardly any customization options

It’s also a shame that I can hardly adapt game parameters to my liking. It is just as impossible to increase or decrease the number of life energy bars as it is to fine-tune the difficulty level for individual songs. Or how about an optional slow-motion function that beginners can use whenever they are stuck at a certain point?

Scene from the reaction test mini-game. As soon as you hit a block, the score displayed at that moment is credited.

Scene from the reaction test mini-game. As soon as you hit a block, you earn the points shown on that block. | Image: Parallel Circles

There is also no option to display approaching blocks in colors other than green and purple for a change. And what’s wrong with displaying points scored in previous attempts in the song selection menu?

In details like these, the developers still need to go the extra mile to make the title more attractive to those who haven’t been playing Beat Saber and the like for years. However, let’s not forget that Beat the Beats just launched. If Parallel Circles take the reviews and community feedback to heart, I wouldn’t be surprised if currently missing features are patched in sooner or later.

Verdict: Strong rhythm workout with room for improvement in terms of feature variety

For an indie title developed by three people in three years, Beat the Beats really does a pretty good job. The core gameplay — once you get the positioning right — is superbly implemented, makes you sweat after a short period of familiarization and, despite the lack of big names, also hits the mark acoustically. As each mode connects to an online leaderboard, the game always motivates me to improve my performance. I also praise the various options for presenting the gameplay to others on the social screen.

Red blows fly straight at you. The only thing that helps here is to dodge with your entire upper body.

Red punches fly straight at you. The only thing that helps here is to dodge them with your entire upper body. | Image: Parallel Circles

In order to hold its ground in the highly competitive ring of VR rhythm games in the long term, Parallel Circles still needs to improve in several areas. Some real multiplayer modes would be nice, but also more unlockable extras and better customization of difficulty settings. Personally, I would also like to see a fitness mode that ignores failures and just keeps me moving.

You can buy Beat the Beats here

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