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Audiosurf (PC) artwork

Audiosurf (PC) review


"Audiosurf was DRM and DLC free, but now entirely forgettable thanks to its sequel. Oh the ignomy!"


Before we begin: Audiosurf 2 was launched in 2014 on Steam, which means Windows, Linux and OS X. It addresses Audiosurf’s technical quibbles; sluggish “surfing”, graphic quality and mode options. If you’re looking to buy, skip Audiosurf and pick up the sequel. Beware that there is no loyalty discount for existing owners of this game. Got it? Excellent. Let’s move on.

This heavily stylized ride puts you on an electronic superhighway generated by any piece of music you feed it. Threading through colored blocks to collect matching sequences while avoiding others contributes to a score which is immediately posted to online leaderboards. Released on Steam in 2008, Dylan Fitterer’s AudioSurf has crested on the PC to the pleasure of many rhythm game enthusiasts.

Its Bring Your Own Music attitude allows you to play your latest favourite in a social media aware environment. There’s no DLC or DRM to hold you down, and all common compression formats are supported. Audiophiles will be pleased that FLAC support ensures the highest of fidelity on your preferred hardware. Additionally, Audiosurf Radio offers a handful of selections to satisfy your craving if your library isn’t available.

Wisely, as competition against ‘everyone’ can have a negative impact on morale, AudioSurf provides three difficulty modes and fourteen ships with unique abilities and attributes. Your reflexes take center stage, but thankfully are augmented by manually controlled abilities that can manipulate blocks, store them for later use or call on the reflexes of a second player in single-screen dual character play.

It is a lot of options to sort through, and can be daunting. Being a bit of a mumblety-fingers and DDR keener, I opted for Mono mode and the casual experience. Mono requires that you gather just one colour as you play, and... I suppose makes it easier, though I admit I don’t know how.

Tempo changes take some practice to anticipate, and there is a very limited reward for effort experience. Even with the addition of leaderboards, the fact is you’re alone, and you may find that your sessions run very short because of this. Typically I’ll play two or three songs and then put the game down for a month or so before coming back to it.

Is that worth the price? Not since the introduction of Audiosurf 2. As a revolutionary departure from restrictive DRM and DLC, Audiosurf was fun, valuable and interesting. Unfortunately it has become quickly forgotten in a genre of few titles.

Graphically Audiosurf is a mixed bag of crisp Tron-style illuminated polygons and jaggy, simplistic objects that lack polish in overall presentation. This is inherent in visualizers which likewise exploit minimal code (or indeed, hardware) to dramatic effect.
The trade off of having an open rhythm game that will play on a toaster is that the graphics can look chunky. This isn’t going to kill sales or fun factor, as this game is a thrill ride, and how often are we impressed by the flowers as they blur by at 100MPH? For the price, it is a minor quibble.

What’s fun
Bring Your Own Music cuts the DLC c(h)ord, untethering your ride and ultimately saving you money. Record deals and licenses need not apply–or dominate–here. Ride your music, for real. Controls, by keyboard, mouse and gamepad, are snappy and responsive. A slew of characters to choose from means even more re-playability.

What’s not
While you can scale the amount of gyrating, dancing objects in the background, there are no style options. Even at low settings you’ll be looking at the same objects presented in the same way, every time.

Recommendation
For $10 this is a good deal, but with the release of Audiosurf 2, $6 more will get you four new game modes, skinnable tracks and Steam Workshop support. As this is a solo pursuit, get the one that fits your budget best because the experience is ultimately the same.

4/5

hastypixels's avatar
Community review by hastypixels (September 24, 2016)

Once upon a time Asteroids was all he ever needed. Over twenty years later poor optimization still ceases to faze him. Remember kids: bandwidth isn't the answer. Fun is.

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