When Audiosurf launched in 2008, many people invested tons of hours into it. It’s not surprising, considering that at its launch, it was one of the few games around that allowed you to incorporate your own music. Playing through your library of music could be insanely fun, as the levels were created around the beats of your music. Now, seven years later, the sequel has fully released onto Steam after a long period of being on Early Access. Unfortunately, despite this long period of time in Early Access, Audiosurf 2 feels incredibly rough around the edges.
The core concept of Audiosurf is still taking the music from your library on your computer and using it to create levels to play on. Several modes make a return, such as mono mode, where your ship travels down a track and you need to collect colored block while avoiding spike blocks. There are still puzzle modes, this time adding in a “casual” puzzle mode which tends to not be as frantic as the other modes.
These puzzle modes are the real attraction as you’ll find yourself quickly getting bored with mono mode. These modes have you trying to collect different sets of colored block in order to match them together. The more blocks of a certain color you have touching each other, the higher your score will be.
If you’ve never played Audiosurf before, Audiosurf 2 seems like a terrible place to begin. There are almost no tutorials on how the color matching system works. While there is a small bit of text at the beginning of the level, you have no real way of seeing how the different mechanics in each of the different puzzle modes work. The original game had you getting a different score based on the color of the blocks you collected. In Audiosurf 2, there isn’t any real way to know if that system is still in place. As a result, you’ll see people playing the same song as you, getting tremendously higher scores and have no real idea why.
The main new mode is called Wakeboarding and it’s actually quite a bit of fun. You are still trying to collect blocks, but as the music crescendos you can press a button to make your character jump off of that “wave” of music. The higher the crescendo, the more points you collect and the further you’ll fly.
One thing veteran fans of the original will notice is the tremendous visual upgrade the game has received. There are a number of stage visual styles available when you first start the game and each looks fairly distinct. Add to this the inclusion of Steam Workshop mod support, which allows you download everything from psychedelic visualizers to the ability to make your levels look like Green Hill Zone from the Sonic series.
Many of these Steam Workshop levels, however, lack any form of variety for different game modes. Wakeboarding is almost an afterthought for several different mods. Puzzle mode doesn’t fare much better, with several mods only having slight color variations making it nearly impossible to do much. It feels like most of them were designed for mono mode, which is a shame because it is, arguably, the worst mode in the game.
What really holds back Audiosurf 2, though, are two major issues. The first major problem is that the interface simply is poorly designed. While using a mouse feels fairly intuitive to getting to your music, using a controller makes the process nearly impossible. Audiosurf 2 advertises full controller support, yet half of the time, the game simply doesn’t recognize your controller when you are navigating the menus. Add to that the fact that half of the time you try to close the game, it will either freeze or fully crash, and you see that maybe it should have had a bit more time in Early Access.
The other is that in the seven years since Audiosurf launched, the rise of streaming music services has made it so that many users simply won’t have the same giant library of music as they once might have. With no way to include Spotify or Pandora, many users won’t have all of their favorite music available to them. There is the inclusion of SoundCloud support and the game does have access to several songs, but quite frankly a lot of this music isn’t great.
Audiosurf 2 is still a lot of fun in the right circumstances. When you are playing Puzzle mode, the game can be incredibly fun and rewarding, just don’t expect much else from the other modes. There is a large mod community, but often times the game feels bare without these mods. Visually it looks fantastic but if you don’t have a huge library of music, don’t expect to get much out of the game.
SCORE: 6.0 out of 10
A code for Audiosurf 2 was provided to Pixel Related for this review.