So, the Nintendo Switch has only just been launched but already it is home to one of the best open world adventures ever made, a great old-school platformer and a fantastic high-octane racer. It doesn’t stop there though, as it’s also home to one hell of a great music rhythm game too; its name? VOEZ.
The first thing that strikes you about VOEZ is its amazing presentation. Loading it up, a beautifully animated introduction featuring one of the game’s leading songs gives way to crisp, clean menus that serve as a fitting taster of what’s to come. Upon pressing play and selecting one of the over one hundred songs on offer via an easy to use grid, you’ll find that the actual gameplay interface is simple but elegant; free of any clutter or unnecessary elements. It enables you to focus solely on what’s important – the gameplay – and it’s a good move, as it is simply glorious.
Playing VOEZ is an entrancing, almost mesmerising experience. Vertical lanes of varying colours seem to dance around the screen in time with the music, notes moving down them, the appearance of which indicating the appropriate action that needs to be taken as they cross a line near the bottom. It could be a swipe, slide, tap or hold, but there’s never any confusion as each one is easily identifiable even when faced with a flurry of notes. It’s a simple system but it works well, allowing you to jump straight into the action without feeling like a deer caught in a car’s headlights. And from then on, you’ll be firmly held by its intuitive and infectious grip.
Each and every one of VOEZ’s songs is unlocked from the outset, and you can play them at any of the game’s three difficulty levels at your leisure. Obviously the higher the level of difficulty you select the more notes are thrown at you, but the charts always feel natural. Barring a handful of laid back songs played on easy, the use of both hands is pretty much required to succeed, making it feel like playing the piano at times – it certainly requires the same level of co-ordination. It’s because of this that performing well feels so rewarding though, like you’re playing a real instrument. It’s a rare treat that only a few music rhythm games can provide.
Rather curiously, complementing VOEZ’s gameplay is a story that is unveiled as you complete challenges when performing songs. You might need to achieve grade B on a song played on hard difficulty for example, or reach a specified note combo. Tucked away in the diary option on the main menu, it’s never shoved in your face though – you could enjoy playing VOEZ for tens of hours without even thinking about it should you wish – but its pleasant narrative and accompanying images are always there for you to enjoy if you fancy a bit of downtime.
Covering a wide variety of music genres such as trance, drum and bass, dance and house, VOEZ’s soundtrack works harmoniously with its minimalistic interface to provide a rhythm experience that is not to be missed. Each and every song I’ve played has been immensely enjoyable, though obviously your opinion of the music will come down to your personal tastes. Perhaps the only real caveat to it all is that it’s only playable in handheld mode and also ideally needs your Switch to be laid flat – it’s practically impossible to use both hand to hit all the notes otherwise.
I’ve been quite honestly blown away by the brilliance of VOEZ. As music rhythm games go it’s one of the best I’ve ever played, up there with the likes of Parappa The Rapper, Hatsune Miku Project DIVA X and Gitaroo Man. It’s a game that I envisage playing for years to come, and if you’ve recently bought a Nintendo Switch I urge you to give it some attention.