VOEZ is a new music game from Rayark, a renowned developer of Deemo, Cytus and Implosion: Never Lose Hope. All the games received high praise from the community of gamers, and PocketMeta as well. So, we had to give VOEZ an in-depth look, just to see what Rayark came up with this time.
Music games make for quite a tired and old genre, but every now and then a novel approach, or a mix of genres adds something exciting. VOEZ adds a ton to the mechanic by making the piano tiles move. In fact, the action is so epileptic seizures inducing, you will be head over heels in love with this game once you start playing.
The controls are simple, and the tutorial guides you through the gestures. As notes go down the key tiles, your objective is to tap, hold or swipe the moment they reach the control line at the bottom. Naturally, music is the key and if you have no problem listening to the melody and the harmony, and the beat and all the nuance, you will enjoy it.
You can calibrate the sensitivity of your controls, if you feel specific gestures don’t register as good as you feel you’re playing.
The next stellar element of VOEZ is the production values. Everything is crisp and novel, from the UI elements to the design and performance. I love how the in-game interface is unique, with rectangular menus – it just looks so creative and snazzy I can’t help but marvel.
The design of every detail is top-notch – from the action inside the levels to the diary art work and UI. It’s crisp, clean and eye-friendly, with the gameplay background adjusting to the music and your gestures. In this regard, Rayark really did a wonderful job.
Story-wise, VOEZ is not my favorite. I can’t help but bring up the Lost Harmony and its heartbreaking story that draws a definitive red line through the entire gameplay. It was that story that kept me playing till the end. VOEZ sort of brings a story to the table, but I don’t like how they did it. It’s about a band of young musicians in Lan Kong, and their individual paths that brought them together. As they hone their musical skills and make their way in the world of show biz, you play the music tapping your eyeballs out.
However, all there is to the story is the anime intro that plays each time you launch a game, and the Diary, which is a set of still anime images. It’s great art work, don’t get me wrong. Perhaps, the anime fans find it compelling. But being a dedicated M83 fan, I find it hard to like the Diary part, or the music.
The music is my main complaint about VOEZ. I know, I know, thousands of people dig that style, and to each his own. But, as much as I love the gameplay and the art work, the music just is not my cup of tea. I feel it’s important because the game deserves the praise, but the way it limits its fan base to the fans of that particular style in the music is somewhat limiting its potential. As of now, the replay value for me has dwindled down to zero because there is nothing that I like the sound of.
Multiply that by the fact that VOEZ has a pretty tough unlock system, or IAP system if you like. By default, there is a bunch of free tracks available for playing. Yes, they provide tons of replay value because you can play them in three difficulty modes and several speed modes. Something of that will grant you a key if you meet X number of points requirement.
Those keys are the gatekeepers of fun because they unlock you new tracks. I have unlocked Keep You Safe, and quite enjoyed it, but in about a week I found the track locked again, with my high score registered. Do tracks lock and unlock according to some mystery cycle? If so, it chips away from my addiction even more.
As I explored the UI, I found out you can have different avatars for yourself. There are many, and some of them are locked. You can unlock them for keys. That’s what I did. Big mistake. I spent the first bunch of keys I earned on useless avatars that do not affect the gameplay at all. Now I can not unlock a new track. Not that I like the samples anyway.
The keys are available via IAPs, but quite expensive – $1 per key. There are bundles, and roughly, if you want to unlock all songs you need to shell out $35.
You can earn the keys as you complete certain missions, like scoring X points in Hard mode. It’s hardcore. Not that hardcore is a bad thing, but VOEZ makes it really difficult to achieve those goals. You’d need to use all your fingers to play in Hard, or have octopus tentacles. Alternatively, play with a friend on a bigger screen.
All this puts a damper on the replay value for me. There is no way to watch an ad to earn a key, and the difficulty level in the hard mode is a bit too hardcore for me to enjoy. Hence, I am losing the itch to progress.
I have not experienced many performance issues but that scary one that sent my device to reboot itself. iOS and Android users report other issues, like lags. Perhaps the game is resource-hungry, so some devices may stutter.
One final aspect that places VOEZ on a “read later” shelf for me is the always online requirement. The game requires Internet connection, and there is no workaround. No playing on the go while commuting, or when your data plan is limited. Whatever the reason for this move, it sure limits the play potential of VOEZ.
- Great design
- Hardcore gameplay
- Lost of tracks
- Plenty of game modes
- Great art work in the diary, UI and levels
- Requires connection to play
- The keys are too hard to earn
- The previously unlocked songs get locked
- The music is too peculiar to satisfy a large strata of players
- IAPs are expensive
VOEZ is a top-notch music game with high production values. Crisp and stylish design, gorgeous art work and frantic, seizure-inducing gameplay make it a must-try game this month. It goes great with the fans of anime and Oriental style in pop.
It’s not as universal as it could be, limiting its fandom. The music is too peculiar to please everyone. The keys that unlock new stages are too hard to earn, or quite expensive in the IAPs. The unlocked songs get locked again according to some inner cycle of the game. Finally, it’s online-only, so replayability attributed to mobile gaming is drastically limited. It’s a fun game with a few elements that keep it from being great.