With AAA-experiences like Resident Evil 4 and Medal of Honor still a bit of a rarity on the Quest 2, rhythm-based games like Beat Saber and Ragnarock continue to be very popular for the platform. Like Ragnarock, Smash Drums takes the experience of drumming and uses it in a VR environment. Should you be picking this up as your next rhythm-based VR game?
Gameplay in Smash Drums will be instantly familiar if you’ve played other titles in the genre before – with visual cues that come towards you and need to be hit just at the right time in order to play the snares, toms and cymbals. Missing one will cost you points, or – at a higher difficulty level – ruin your performance. In that sense, not much has changed since the formula was introduced by games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
VR does allow some new tricks, and although you can still sit and play watching forward, you can also have all of these cues some towards you from all angles in the game’s 360 mode. If you’re more seasoned in the freedom that VR can bring, this is the best way to play as it immerses you in the game’s environments much better, but it’s also something that can be disorienting and challenging to newcomers.
Unlike in Ragnarock, where you use hammers to pound, Smash Drums actually features drum sticks, so it’s much more of a drumming sensation that you’re getting as you hit the different instruments that make up a drum kit. Liberties are taken of course, as in this game you can literally smash those drums and send pieces flying all around you as well – but that just makes the experience more visceral and fun.
Smash Drums is very customizable in how it plays, with different difficulty levels, settings that determine how forgiving the game is towards mistakes and so on. This ensures that anyone can have fun with the game, no matter their skill level – and if you just want to pound those drums as hard as you can without keeping rhythm then there’s even a mode for that.
The game comes with over two dozen songs included, and more that are unlockable by playing – so it’s nice that not all the unlocks are cosmetic ones. All of the songs are indie rock productions though, so don’t expect anything familiar if you’re more into mainstream music. There is, however, a good amount of variety in the song selection, from high energy tracks to slower ones that are helpful when learning the ropes.
Add online leaderboard to that, and the ability to stream your gameplay locally to try it out when you have friends over, and you’ve got a game that’s easy to jump into and enjoy while offering plenty of room to learn and master it as well. Smash Drums isn’t radically different from the likes of Beat Saber and Synth Riders but it’s just as good at giving you that rhythm-based fix. It lacks familiar songs in the tracklist though, which for the mainstream audience makes a game like Beat Saber a better option. This can sit comfortably alongside it though, and is more newcomer-friendly towards people who just want to, you know, smash some drums.