Review: Voez makes the Switch more musical

The Nintendo Switch is a versatile system. It has all these different modes, making it ideal for multiple situations. It seemed the sort of thing that would, eventually, receive a game designed for one particular phase, but did anyone expect one to be here right at the start? Yet here it is, Voez available for all to enjoy. While a game that can only be played in tablet mode may seem limiting, it’s actually one of the more freeing experiences on the system.

Voez is a rather typical, touch-based rhythm game. There are 131 songs available to you, all immediately available after going through a single opening song as a tutorial. When you choose a track, you also get the opportunity to set one of three difficulties to play it on and determine the speed of notes. One that’s done, you play along. There are four different kinds of notes, each very easily identifiable and defined, so you know if you need to tap, hold, hold and slide, tap and slide, or slide. You only need to worry about getting “OK,” “Perfect” and “Max Perfect” notes to continue a combo, with only “Misses” messing up the flow.

The way the notes dance around the screen in Voez is a thing of beauty; there are no distractions.

The way the notes dance around the screen in Voez is a thing of beauty; there are no distractions. The game allows players to focus entirely on the beats. You will always see the vertical lines along which the notes will gradually fall toward a horizontal line. There are no animated segments to distract you or flashy moments when notes are tapped. These vertical rows may shift back and forth along the screen, sometimes because you have performed a proper tap-swipe blue note, but this never takes you out of the moment. Rather, these natural movements will tend to guide your eyes and fingers to where they’ll need to be for the next notes.

And what music it is. All of the music in Voez will be new to you. They’re all independent tracks from Taiwanese, South Korean and Japanese artists. Most are poppy and electronic. Some might rock a little harder than others, and you will find a few that could possibly be considered folksy or even classical. All of them feel perfectly crafted for such a game. This isn’t a library of tunes with note patterns forced to conform. Everything feels perfectly suited for a rhythm game.

While Voez’s music and gameplay soar, there are times when it is very clear this was once a mobile game. The lack of progression is one. Many music games, like most installments in the Hatsune Miku: Project Diva series, offer a sense of purpose as you play. There’s something to be said for having over 100 songs immediately available here, but it’s accompanied by a lack of motivation. There isn’t the same drive to dive in and experience everything for the sake of making some sort of progress.

It’s a lack of guidance in general; Voez often isn’t very user-friendly. Aside from the opening tutorial, which briefly goes over each of the game’s notes, it offers no explanations. It doesn’t explain the indicator on each song screen that controls the speed of dropping notes. While there’s an opportunity to unlock diary entries to learn more about a group of young people who’ve formed a band called, you guessed it, VOEZ, it’s relatively hidden, the challenges to unlock new entries and images aren’t presented in an obvious manner and none of them are even engaging enough to be worth working toward.

An even more egregious sin is the lack of any sort of sorting system, as Voez offers no way to easily sift through its songs.

An even more egregious sin is the lack of any sort of sorting system, as Voez offers no way to easily sift through its songs. Everything is organized alphabetically into groups. For example, ABCD are the first group you see, and tapping the icon with those letters will collapse that group so you can see the other ones. However, there’s no way to press a button to have them automatically collected into categories determined by genre, BPM, or other criteria. Even worse, there’s there’s no way to favorite a song that you particularly enjoy so you can easily return to it. With so many tracks available, having no way to easily jump to ones you like best is unforgivable.

Voez is an enjoyable rhythm game that rather clearly shows its roots. The library is extraordinarily large, its easy to play and understand, everything is crisp and clear and its focus never deviates from the music. While better organization and some motivating factors would have been appreciated, it is definitely one of the better games in the Switch’s launch lineup.

Score: 8/10
Publisher: Flyhigh Works
Release Date: March 9, 2017
Developer: Rayark Games, Esquadra
Platform(s): Switch
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