It’s somewhat difficult to glean VOEZ’s mechanics from the screenshots, even after knowing it’s a music/rhythm game. I mean, it just looks like a bunch of geometric shapes, right? Well that simplistic appearance hides a pretty great (and dastardly) musical challenge.
VOEZ is supposed to tell the story of a group of young friends trying to live the dream of being in their own band. I say “supposed to” because the story the very well put together intro movie hints at isn’t really there. Not that there needs to be any motivation behind tapping and sliding a touch screen in time with toe-tapping tunes, of course – it just seems weird to even bother with any exposition in the first place. Though completing specific challenges will unlock “diary entries,” which is really just artwork that kind of shows what’s happening to the different characters …but not really.
With all of that said, playing VOEZ is pretty darn great. I admit I haven’t had any experience with Rayark’s earlier musical titles (like Cytus or Deemo), so I’m not sure of what might be totally new and what might have been used previously — but after messing around with VOEZ I think I need to fix that. The visuals are indeed simple, but they’re also very clean and crisp. There’s also a real feeling of energy to everything as columns move around and pulse in time with the music, which is something still screens just won’t be able to get across.
That same energy carries over in to the flow of each level (or track), with the constant motion of the columns mixing with the various control prompts (tap, swipe, touch and hold, etc) to create something truly impressive. It also creates something truly intense. Seriously, VOEZ on anything above easy mode is tough. Which is fine, really, but new players will definitely want to stick with the easier settings for a while.
Somewhat ridiculous difficulty does have one potential drawback, however. In order to unlock additional levels (i.e. not the eight or so available from the start), players have to earn keys by completing specific challenges such as earning hundreds of thousands points in one song on hard mode. Being able to unlock songs for free rather than paying real money for extra keys is great, but anybody already having trouble with the tougher settings will have a really hard time moving past the introductory tracks.
Make no mistake, VOEZ is a rhythm game that’s well worth playing. It’s clever, fun, challenging (even if it can be a bit too challenging at times), and is oddly pretty in its simplicity – and what little illustration artwork there is looks great.
But really, it’s all about being fun and having enjoyable music.