I first got the chance to check out Rhythm of the Universe: Ionia when its demo was released as part of Steam’s Game Festival back in February this year. Playing the demo had me hyped to see what the team were going to do with the full game. But, could the game build on the excellent demo?
The story sees you and your sister Allegra head out on an adventure, as Ionia’s new heroes. Following an attack from the Tritone army, trees have been felled and burned and the Harpa the heart of the Ionian forest has become weak. The question is can you follow Allegra on her journey to save the Harpa?
Three main elements make up the whole gameplay within Rhythm of the Universe: Ionia, and you got a feel for all of these in the aforementioned demo.
The main part of the game is made up of walking through the world of ROTU, with the game feeling more like a walking simulator over everything else. Although it does give you chance to take in the beautiful world the team have built.
Then in order to make it to other parts of the universe, this will see you traversing the environment by climbing. When this is required the game makes it obvious by highlighting all the climbable parts in yellow, so they stand out inside the HMD.
With the final element being music based puzzles, that will see you playing a couple of different instruments. Where this could open up for some fantastic puzzles, unfortunately the game fails to capitalize on this. All of the puzzles are simple to work out and won’t ever have you scratching your head.
I was really blown away in the demo by the visual part of the game you got to see, and this carried on throughout the full game – with the team really delivering AAA game visuals. It was easy to get lost just looking around the world and taking in the wildlife that you come across on your adventure. My only real gripe with the visual design, was at times the animation on Allegra seemed choppy and a bit odd in some sections.
As the game is based on bringing the forest back to life with music, you do get a fantastic use of this bringing the game to life. With this they have paired great voice acting and environmental sounds – really bringing the overall world to life, and keeping you immersed.
One thing I was pleased with as well, is the game does not preachy in the story telling, despite the message the game is bringing – which for me could have really ruined the game.
Unfortunately, no matter how beautiful the world looks and how well it is brought to life by the audio, it really does not make up for the lacklustre gameplay.
When playing the game I found that it only really works being played standing, and this wasn’t the end of the lack of options. The game only allows for snap turning, which I disabled and turned physically in my playspace – but this might not be possible for everyone. The games does come with free locomotion and teleport for movement options, but, I found even as an experienced VR user I reverted to teleport. This was the case because, even with boosting the walk speed to three-hundred percent in the options, I was still walking at a snails pace.
The control system is really simple, with the only buttons being used the triggers and grip to interact with the world and the items. If you do enable the smooth locomotion, you will also have teleport assigned to a button – which is required as even with smooth locomotion you can only teleport up and down stairs in the game.
This was the area that let me down the most, I was hoping the team would build on the demo and make the next AAA multiple hour game, but it was over in fifty-minutes including the cut-scenes and the tutorial. On top of this the game offers no real reason to return, the story and gamplay is not engaging enough to make you want to revisit, and there isn’t any hidden or collectable items to try and find.
Reviewed using Vive Pro Eye & Index Controllers
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a review code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a press code does not affect my judgement of the product.