When on the subject of VR rhythm games, you cannot ignore the glowing praise that surrounds Beat Saber. It embodies the spirit of the Dance Dance Revolution games and successfully reinvents them in a VR setting. Slashing away to my favourite songs in Beat Games' hit has been one of my go-to virtual reality experiences since it launched in Early Access in 2018. Despite Beat Saber's ever growing library of custom songs, emergeWorlds' Dance Collider has recently managed to steal me away from it.
Having released in November, Dance Collider managed to slip under my radar. At a glance, it's easy to discount it as a Beat Saber clone. It features neon nodes that hurtle towards you and challenges you to hit them in time with energetic tracks that get your blood pumping. While its foundations are undoubtedly similar to the games that have come before it, its casual approach to a hardcore workout offers a different edge to a VR rhythm game. Where Beat Saber's challenge is rooted in executing precise motions in quick succession, Dance Collider places a heavier focus on moving your entire body.
Working up a sweat in Dance Collider took me around thirty seconds. Yes, that may be because I'm terribly unfit, but it's also due to how much I had to move in the opening seconds of the song. From stretching above my head to quickly crouching to hit low notes, its sequences pulled my body in every direction. Bumping from left to right as I usually would in Beat Saber doesn't quite cut it in Dance Collider. There are no moving walls to avoid as the space ahead of you is entirely open. I found that adjusting to notes flying in from tighter angles on my left and right escalated the challenge on higher difficulties. That said, acing these routines on Easy is perfectly manageable if you're less experienced with VR rhythm games. No Fail mode also provides extreme workouts without the stress of grinding for a high score.
Rather than slash a note in a specific direction, Dance Collider only encouraged me to smash incoming orbs as hard as possible. Cascading notes are the most satisfying to nail as they're long strings that snake across the screen. On Pro and Extreme difficulties, these sequences had me crossing my arms in surprisingly elaborate flowing routines, while testing my agility as they bobbed up and down. The bright splashes of colour make it easy to track incoming notes, even during the most intense tracks. If you find a few moments spare, you're also met with an amusing giant version of the character you selected bopping along to the beat in the background.
Dance Collider currently features 45 original songs that form an upbeat soundtrack for defeating its nine characters. Each one introduces their own style to keep battles feeling fresh. So far, my favourite is Yuri, who has upbeat synth tracks that spurred me into upping the difficulty. It's understandably lacking in the custom songs department, but more are being shared and requested on its Discord channel. emergeWorlds has also integrated a VR Dance Editor that lets you upload tracks and create custom routines for your favourite songs. I only tested this briefly, but it's intuitive design makes it simple to use.
Choosing to play Dance Collider as the temperatures creep into the mid-20s (Celsius) in the UK probably wasn't the smartest idea, but I'm thoroughly enjoying the workouts anyway. Dance Collider earns its place as a separate experience to enjoy alongside Beat Saber. If you're looking for an energetic workout that pushes your limits to fun upbeat tracks, you can find Dance Collider on Steam.