VOEZ is a rhythm game that is available on mobile as well as the Nintendo Switch. As the mobile version is free on both iOS and on Android, while it is £19 on the Nintendo eShop. The Switch version allows you instant access to all of its soundtrack, featuring over 100 songs, while the mobile version features in-app purchases which would make it far more expensive to unlock all the songs. In this review, I will be reviewing the version that I’ve been playing on the Nintendo Switch, though I do suggest that you should play the game on mobile first before considering buying the Switch version.
The game has similarities to other rhythm games, most notably beatmania, and at its base features the same mechanics as most beatmania-like games, with icons that require you to either tap or hold down. However, VOEZ does expand on this, and requires the player to also drag, slide, or swipe along the screen, utilising the touch screen surface. As this game is touchscreen, it cannot be played while docked, and has to be in portable mode. If you have played the game on both the mobile and on Switch, you may find that the Switch version can be harder due to the screen being relatively large in comparison to the mobile. Although this does help you hit notes more accurately, the negative effects do show when you’re playing faster, more complex maps. This isn’t a huge problem, and it’s perfectly understandable why this game can only be played on the touch screen, but it can feel limiting at times unless you prefer playing the Switch in its portable form.
The opening cutscene at the title screen of the game introduces something extremely rare to the rhythm game genre: narrative. The game gives some context behind its music, a story about a group of high school students who form a band, featuring 76 chapters that are unlocked by completing different achievements. The function of the achievements are therefore twofold, giving the player a progression path that unlocks a nicely written story, accompanied by some gorgeous artwork. Does the plot add anything to the game? I wouldn’t really say so – but it doesn’t detract from it either. If anything, it achieves in showing the passion the creators put behind this game. The narrative is unnecessary in the sense that the game would’ve been just as good without it, but it definitely does not come off as lazy, nor does it feel out of place.
Right from the tutorial beatmap, it’s hard to ignore just how beautiful the game is. The game has a minimalist design, not venturing too far off the style of falling notes that you may see in other beatmania-like rhythm games, enhanced with brightly coloured bursts and constantly moving bars, as if the map itself dances along with the music that’s being played. The ability for VOEZ’s beatmaps to feature this kind of movement creates maps that fit incredibly well with the music and allows it to show a little more personality. More impressively, despite the maps being incredibly dynamic, the aesthetics only serve to enhance the gameplay and isn’t distracting or in any way more difficult. If this game was aiming to be the most visually stunning rhythm game ever, I’m not sure how many games could even consider competing with it.
The music is, of course, a very important part of rhythm games, and there are no complaints from that end. The soundtrack is fairly diverse and has a fairly standard soundtrack for a rhythm game, with mostly songs that are rhythmically interesting and as a whole have vary in terms of bpm. Though musical preferences are fairly down to the individual, I doubt that anyone would be unable to find a single song from the game that didn’t suit their tastes. Also, the game does do updates once in a while to add new music to the game, so you may get even more than you paid for in the end.
Despite all it does well, the game does a solid rewards system. You can unlock keys to get “avatars”, which feel useless but there’s nothing else to purchase (on the mobile version, you use these to unlock new songs). The only other rewards system would be to unlock more chapters of the narrative (as discussed earlier) though I guess you can say that as is the case in most rhythm games, the reward is the achievement of completing the difficult maps that you are presented with.
As a whole, I think it’s really hard to find bad things to say about this game. You can say that maybe the game thrives better on mobile than on the Switch, or maybe the tutorial doesn’t explain the differences between the two sliders very well, but you’d really have to stretch to say any of this really impacts the game’s quality that much. VOEZ is one of the best games in the Nintendo Switch’s currently limited lineup, and I can guarantee that if you are a fan of rhythm games, you will like this one. If you are not – definitely give it a shot (on mobile first) anyway, as this may be just the right game to get you hooked.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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