Reviewed by Dave Linger, Posted on 2008-11-05


Developer: Best Game Ever Publisher: Invisible Handlebar
Release Date: February 15, 2008 Also On: None

Audiosurf is a game developed by a small group of people, designed to be a different type of rhythm game. Looking at screenshots of Audiosurf, you may not be able to tell what makes Audiosurf any different from other games of the genre. The graphics look simple, and the gameplay looks simple. The main difference that sets Audiosurf apart from games like Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero, though, is that instead of making movements or pressing buttons to imitate a real-life action associated with the music (for example, dancing or playing guitar), you’re simply playing a game whose “level” (stage, arena, map, whatever you want to call it) is based on a song that you specify. The obvious benefit to this style of game is that it allows you to play the game with whatever songs you want, rather than being limited to the songs or genre that the developer specifies. You can pick a techno song, a rock song, country, rap, classic, pop, whatever you want. I even tried out some stand-up comedy album tracks, with playable results.

The game plays a bit like guitar hero, in that you’re on a long “track” which has blocks thrown on it. Unlike guitar hero, however, there are a variety of game modes which all use this same basic set. For example, you can choose a game mode where you simply avoid the gray blocks and hit the colored blocks. For more advanced players, there are modes which get very technical, requiring stacking of certain color blocks and swapping blocks to clear more room. For each mode, there are end-of-song bonuses, like completing the song without hitting a gray block, or ending the song with a clear board. But this doesn’t simply randomly generate a set of notes to match the length of your song and play it while you play the game, the tracks that Audiosurf generates change significantly based on what music you choose. For hip-hop and techno songs with strong, heavy bass lines, the whole track that you’re “surfing” on bounces to the beat. If the song is on a slow part, everything slows down, and the track begins ascending “uphill”, and once the song hits the climax and speeds up, the track shoots downhill, and all of the colors get warmer and everything gets faster and more difficult – all based on whatever song you choose. Needless to say, some songs are more fun to play than others.

In addition to creating a unique track for any song you want to play, Audiosurf reads its metadata to check for high scores for that particular song (using the artist, title, length, and track shape) online – so ANY SONG can have its own leader board online – you can sort scores by overall score, location in relation to you, or just you and your friends’ scores. If you have the number one score on a song, and someone comes along later and beats your score, you get a nice “Dethroned” email from Audiosurf, with details on what song was beaten and by whom. The graphics in this game are a double-edged sword, so to speak. On the one hand, with the settings on their higher settings, the game looks hypnotic and incredible. It utilizes modern lighting and technology with simple object and color to produce a truly unique look – however, the game utilizes the graphics processor very little, and relies virtually completely on your PC’s processor – so in order to get the best experience, you’ll need at least a modern Core 2 Duo with a decent clock speed.

The great thing about a game like this, moreso than other rhythm games, is the virtually unlimited replay value. You’re always going to have new albums coming out by your favorite bands, and you’re always going to have people competing with you online for the top scores on your favorite songs – so even if you put this game down for a month or two, you’ll come back again and again to try out all of your new music. The Steam version of the game is an even sweeter deal – it’s only $10, and occasionally goes on sale for $5. FIVE DOLLARS. And with that purchase, you get the entire Orange Box soundtrack to play with for free – and unlike a lot of modern PC games, there’s a free demo available. There’s also the free Audiosurf radio, with new music on all the time. All of this for $10 turns out to be an unbeatable deal that only gets better with time.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 10
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9.6
Written by Dave Linger Review Guide

Reviewed by Dave Linger