Harmonix will always have a place in my heart because of their smash hit Rock Band. Unfortunately, extra space will not be made for Audica.
When you begin Audica, you’re met with a very welcomed tutorial. The game has quite a learning curve and the tutorial is a necessity to get the hang of what’s going on with those shiny laser pistols in your hand. To strike the “beat”, you must level your blaster at the target and fire on beat. The timing and aim are not forgiving, even at early difficulties. The precision required makes for a steep hurdle for those only familiar with traditional rhythm games. If you have below average hand-eye coordination, Audica will be a struggle for you. I always thought I had better coordination, but here, I was left questioning that appraisal.
I will fully admit to being bad at Audica. I can manage the Beginner and Standard difficulties, but there are issues past that point. The maps on Audica at higher levels seem to work against you. Traditional rhythm games are your dancing partner, your co-artist, and a coach. Perhaps true to form, Audica feels more like the rhythm is your adversary. It surprises you with advanced movements, moves faster than you can possibly aim, and tricks you with off-beat targets that all feel personally directed against your groove. In other rhythm games, the beat targets follow the flow of a song and move like a dance that fits the track. In Audica, they often feel as though made difficult not out of a change in the song’s complexity, but out of spite.
The other large issue with Audica is that its only song choices are from the height of recent-era EDM. I don’t dislike the genre, but the lack of options available makes the play very stale. If you want a very slightly more diverse set of songs, Harmonix has bafflingly offered individual songs as DLC for $1.99 a pop. There is a budding stock of “community maps”, but so far it’s not nearly robust enough to make up for the lack of a larger selection of developer-made maps. Harmonix’s Rock Band and Dance Central both always boast a myriad of songs from all genres, so it’s hard to believe they would have had trouble securing licenses. It also doesn’t make me think Harmonix didn’t realize that they ought to have a more diverse set. So I’m led to wonder if there was some outside constraint that led to the hobbled playlist.
I am a fan of rhythm games, but I am admittedly not phenomenal at them. I can land one or two Expert-level Beat Saber runs, but that is the rare exception and not the rule. But I enjoy Beat Saber a great deal. Before it, I loved Harmonix’s Rock Band. So when I heard they’d be making a wholly new take on the standard rhythm game, I was full of anticipation. What was delivered, however, didn’t quite justify that anticipation. But, if you’ve tired of “mundane” rhythm games being too easy, this is a great game for you.
A Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes