The gaming industry spoiled me greatly. Nowadays, it’s terribly hard for me to even start playing a game that doesn’t promise stunning, artistic graphics, preferably with HDS, fancy shading and the likes. Even though Crysis is not strong in storyline, it does offer landscapes that bewitch you completely. In fact, most new games put their bets on this. Gameplay – what is that? Everybody has ideas, but not everybody masters the DirectX 10 API.
Is that so? Because I am so blinded by this eye-candy glamour, which at its core is empty like a Barbie doll, I am having a hard time to think at Audiosurf as a game. Audiosurf offers rudimentary graphics, it doesn’t know those abstract notions like SoftShadows or MotionBlur, it’s not photo-realistic, it doesn’t offer a stunning AI, it actually doesn’t offer anything but… gameplay. Truth be told, this is the most entertaining game I played in a long time (and by entertaining I understand that it always generates within me the kind of feeling that I can obtain by running, or going out with my friends in a blessed Friday evening), and it’s been developed by a one man team, initially only to surprise his wife. The game doesn’t require Windows Vista to run on, doesn’t need a super video card and behaves perfectly even if you have only 1 GB RAM or even less. Even more, it doesn’t require a lot of time from your behalf – you can gain as much fun with Audiosurf, even if you only have 5 minutes available for a quick session – but you can play equally comfortable as much as you want. It’s impossible to me to categorize Audiosurf, because it doesn’t fit to any of the classical game genres; it’s really a… musical puzzle, an anti-stress tool that uses music and mouse to make you feel better instantly.
What’s the deal?
If you have a driving license and you like to listen to music while you are driving, you are already familiar with what Audiosurf has to offer. The game lets you choose a song – any song – in a CD, MP3, OGG, WMA, iTunes or FLAC format, and, based on the rhythm of the melody, it generates a visual racing track with obstacles and pieces that you need to collect. You’ll be driving a SciFi-like vehicle on this track, that is soft and plain if you are listening to a calm, relaxing melody, or abrupt and rocky if you’re more into „heavier” music. The obstacles and objectives, represented through colored blocks, are also generated according to the song’s rhythm. Your task is to „bump” and collect these colored blocks in a grid of various sizes (3 columns of 6 rows or 4 columns for the ones who prefer to play co-op), depending of the difficulty you set for the game. Obviously, you’re supposed to do this in high speed, and with complicated methods, because – and here’s the trick- you have to collect multiple blocks of the same colors in order to gain points. Much like Tetris, if you manage to gather a minimum of 3 adjacent blocks of same color, the spaces they occupied are freed.
Some colors have more value than others, so your main goal is to gather red blocks rather than the blue ones, for example. Furthermore, you can encounter special blocks that help you, by transforming your entire block collection in a single color, or make things more difficult for you, by blocking a position in the grid and stopping you to free an entire section (I am talking about the grey blocks). Sometimes you can benefit by to extra lanes that flank your grid and allow you to avoit the blocks you don’t want to collect. To all this rather complex gameplay, you can add quite a lot of other „spicy” elements, such as various vehicle models with special abilities, a special track where you can play in two (using both keyboard and mouse – of course, you can try this alone, but you really gotta be ambidextrous), three levels of difficulty plus Ironmode (which basically offers 6 levels of difficulty) and a quite challenging and very well thought of multiplayer system, which offers national and international scores and ladders for each song the players are „surfing” on.