‘Avicii Invector: Encore Edition’ Quest 2 review: rhythm action for laid back VR

The version of Invector it was always meant to be

Avicii Invector has existed in several forms over the years and is generally regarded as a solid rhythm game with nothing massive to set it apart from others in the genre. The game has now come to the Meta Quest 2 headset, where it offers the same gameplay but reframed through its new platform.

Ultimately Avicii Invector: Encore Edition is a collection of the base game plus all of its additional packs. As a flat-screen rhythm game, it is competent and strikes the right balance of accessible inputs that ramp in complexity through difficulty levels. As far as content goes, there are 35 songs to play through on four different difficulties giving it plenty of room to appeal to the hardcore and casual, assuming you’re a fan of Avicii.

Avicii Invector: Encore Edition takes its name from the late DJ Tim Bergling, AKA Avicii, and the music fits the gameplay startlingly well. Each track is nicely balanced in length and tone to provide variety in style and pace, even for those who wouldn’t choose to throw on an Avicii track. But what brings this experience to a different level is that it is now available in a third dimension.

Avicii Invector: Encore Edition. Credit: Hello There

Firstly, and most importantly with VR games, is comfort. While I have overcome my motion sickness for VR games, some practices are generally employed to keep things pleasant, and Invector frequently tiptoes a little far out of them.

One common feature of early VR was a cockpit of some variety. The outside world moving differently to your inner ear’s expectations is far more palatable when you have a fixed object to ground you. Ninety per cent of Avicii Invector takes place on a track and between a triangular tunnel, which provides consistency that should keep motion sickness at bay.

However, the game has free flight moments where the track drops away, and your ship is untethered. You are still progressing forward at the same rate, but that sudden lack of anchor provided by the track is certainly jarring to the stomach.

Avicii Invector: Encore Edition. Credit: Hello There

Disappointingly, this is a 2022 VR game that is releasing with absolutely zero comfort options. Understandably, the developers would not want to impact the spectacle of the game; after all, it is the floating through wild scenery to music that is the most enjoyable part of the experience, but still. A simple choice to add slight vignetting or to enable static environments would have been an excellent option for those who maybe don’t have their VR legs just yet.

Once you are comfortable with the motion, the game is an excellent example of how VR can take you away from reality with ease. In the same way that Beat Saber silences my mind and allows me to flow between beats, Invector achieves a similar level of sensory deprivation. The music, accessible inputs, and dramatic environments easily transport anyone away from the real world, and it is a pleasure to enjoy the ride.

Avicii Invector: Encore Edition. Credit: Hello There

That sense of escape is achieved easier because the game does not have a failure condition. You can miss every note in a track and still get to the end; your experience is never interrupted by a game over. You just ride through the song and accept whatever score you get. A valid option is to turn off the effect volume, ignore the rhythm game, and enjoy the show.

One thing that I’m torn between is the entire lack of motion controls, arguably one of the best aspects of VR is its intractability, but in this case, I think it’s worthy of the absence. The inputs are from button presses and joysticks, meaning that the game works well standing or sitting. The button-based input also makes Avicii Invector an excellent game for those with a lower range of motion to experience VR. One night while struggling to sleep, I put the headset on in bed and let the game clear my mind while I lay still for the first time that night.

As for the actual game itself, each track is unlocked progressively in batches. Clear every song in a location, and you unlock the next set and a new environment. Each song has a percentage of notes that is required to count it as cleared, and it’s a generous number that allows for pretty scuffed runs to still be successful. However, it is important to note that each track also progresses in difficulty, at least in the non DLC tracks. This means that the hardest easy song is also the most complex expert song, so working your way from top to bottom in each difficulty is the easiest way to improve. Hopping between difficulties on a whim is likely to lead to sharp increases in complexity.

Avicii Invector does not dwell on the sad passing of Tim Bergling; it celebrates his work by bringing a unique twist to each song thanks to the addition of visuals and active participation in each track. The glory of rhythm games is their ability to take music and reframe it as something you experience in a completely unique way. Invector is a fitting tribute to a person whose EDM beats are so pervasive that you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who has never heard one of his songs.

It’s clear that the developers have a great passion for Avicii’s music, and every handcrafted track comes with the aforementioned free flight moments. Here the inputs are simple, just fly through the rings, but the break from the button mashing and quick reactions allow you to bask in the experience, afloat in a sea of music, light, and motion. It’s truly remarkable in a way that is best showcased in VR. Playing the game in any other format seems hollow and unappealing after the sensory feast provided in the Quest version.

Avicii Invector: Encore Edition releases for the Meta Quest 2 on January 27.

The Verdict

Avicii Invector: Encore Edition is nothing new, it’s existed in flat screen formats for a while, but in VR, it takes on a new form that is ultimately the pinnacle of what this game can be and is a fitting tribute to the late DJ whose library is showcased throughout the levels.

Pros

  • Beautiful environments that react to the music
  • No motion controls are required for those with a limited range of motion
  • Over 35 songs with multiple difficulties

Cons

  • If you don’t like Avicii, it’s not for you
  • No comfort options at all
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