Sometimes we all just need to put on a pair of headphones, stick our favourite jams on, close our eyes, crank up the volume and pretend the outside world doesn’t exist for a small while.
Thanks to this little piece of technology called “VR”, blocking out the outside world is easier than ever. So it only makes sense that you should somehow combine that with your music collection.
Harmonix Music VR might just be my new favourite application for VR. Let’s make this really clear from the start: it’s not a “game” in any shape or form. Well, mostly not. Primarily Music VR is a tool; a music player set in virtual space designed to give you a place to switch off, unwind, and have a little fun in the meantime. There’s a small library of songs included with the game; they’re not terrible, but they aren’t licensed tracks either. If you played Amplitude earlier this year then you’ll recognise a chunk of the soundtrack from there. I don’t suppose Harmonix much expects you to use the included songs though, since you can stick on any of your own tracks. It’s a simple case of plugging a USB drive into your PS4, and letting the game read the files from there.
there are four modes in Harmonix Music VR, all completely different from each other and each brilliant in its own merit. if you genuinely want to switch off, empty your hands and empty your mind, there’s a visualiser, called “The Trip” that will create psychedelic patterns in time with your music. It’s like you’ve died and been reincarnated as a kaleidoscope. There’s also “The Beach” mode, where you’re transported to a beautiful tropical paradise. There are a few objects you can interact with that will add some visuals to your beat, but for the most part this is another mode designed to let you totally relax and soak up the music.
The last two modes are by far my favourite – and even if I’m not particularly in the mood to listen to music I can see myself returning time and again. First is “The Easel” mode; imagine being trapped inside a more colourful version of Microsoft Paint. Using two Move controllers, you’re given a paintbrush and a toolkit – and a massive blank canvas to get busy with. The lines you draw will change colour in keeping with the beat, and the toolkit includes various shapes and moving objects that react to the sounds. Whether you want to scribble wildly to release some frustration, giggle to yourself as you write some naughty words, or pretend you’re the next Picasso (I can recommend all three), the Easel mode is great fun and an ingenious way to pass a bit of time.
Last but not least is “The Dance”. Put in a room with some creatures waiting to dance, it’s your job to show ’em how. Grab their limbs, hips and heads and drag them around to the beat of the music. Let go and your movements will loop, creating a room filled with the most epic dance moves ever to be seen. Ever wanted to see an anthropomorphic lemon do a jive? Or see a robot twerk hard enough to make Miley Cyrus blush? Well, your dreams are now a reality.
Within The Dance, you can also switch to being a DJ, speeding up and slowing down tracks as you please. There’s a air horn to press at your leisure to annoy your dancing guests, as well as a gun to fire random objects onto the dance floor, because why not? You can also zoom right out, turning your party guests into tiny dancers – complete with handles over their heads for you to grab and toss into a nearby basketball hoop. Or fling them into outer space. It’s a messed up party alright, but it’s hilariously good, silly fun.
All modes besides The Easel can be played with a standard dual shock controller, but you’ll need use of Move if you want to flex your artistic muscles. Everything worked flawlessly; tracking was spot on in every mode and the visuals are brilliant. The island looks beautiful, and the kaleidoscopic visuals are as crisp and clear as they are mesmerising. The only slight downside is the lack of any licensed music, but let’s face it; it’s impossible to suit everybody’s taste in one playlist, so the ability to use your own music more than makes up for it.
If you’re a music lover, adding Harmonix Music VR to your VR catalogue is a no brainer. Any session with your favourite album is instantly more enjoyable, whether you want to completely switch off to some relaxing visuals or if you want to unwind by having a bit of fun. If you’re expecting a true gaming experience or some kind of rhythm game then you’re going to be disappointed, but for what Music VR sets out to do, it does it tremendously. Staring into space whilst you listen to music just got a whole lot more interesting.