PAX East is as full of Triple A games as it is independent and quirky ones. I had the pleasure of trying Thumper by Drool Games on the Playstation VR platform, and this is a game that shows what great audio and visual design can accomplish on the Virtual Platform.
Thumper is described as a “Rhythm Violence” game in the vein of Rez and AudioSurf. You are represented by a silver ship that looks like a futuristic Beetle as you coast along vibrant and whirling rails towards portals and bosses. Music is your guide, and the name Thumper comes from the need to jump and thump on light symbols on the ground. You also need to hold on to the button or ‘note’ when passing through flat lines on the ground, and you need to aim into corners to avoid taking damage. All of this thrown together with the electronica soundtrack pulsing and changing as you progress made for a trippy and enveloping experience as I soared though the neon-infused landscapes.
Played on the Playstation VR system (which by far is the most comfortable of the three big VR vendors) added an immersiveness to the experience that is hard to describe. You can see the winding track ahead pulsing and changing as it stretches to the edge of your vision. Explosions, lights and pulses rock around you and make you feel like you are jacking into the Net as Cyberpunk movies portray it. You swiftly fall into this world in the VR experience and move in tandem with your ship as you try to navigate to the end of the level.
The experience was so profound and captivating that I can’t help but think Sony would be silly not to approach Drool to pack this in as a launch experience for the Playstation VR. It helps that the two men responsible for the game are industry experts: Marc Flury was the lead programmer on The Beatles: Rock Band and Dance Central at Harmonix, and Brian Gibson is a musician and artist who worked on Amplitude, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Fantasia. Their pedigree shows: Thumper is a captivating experience that immerses you in a virtual electronica cyberspace, and it is one to grab if you are getting the Playstation VR system. It will also be available in non-VR modes on Steam and PS4.