Thumper Review

“What’s this?” you ask. “Another review of Thumper on the Oculus Quest, you say? What makes it any different from all the others out there?”. Yes, yes it is another review of Thumper on the Oculus Quest. And don’t worry, I won’t copy/paste anything verbatim from them here either. Here’s what makes this review different: I’m not a reviewer.

Yes, you read that title correctly. Not only am I not a reviewer, you probably should have seen this coming given the name of my blog. Though if it wasn’t obvious enough already, let me spell it out for you here in plain English: I’m just a gamer. I play games, write about my experiences with them, and post them here on this blog for your reading pleasure.

Now that it’s out of the way, let’s continue, shall we?

Thumper is a rhythm game created by Drool LLC for multiple platforms after being released originally on the PlayStation 4 in 2016. Thumper is an intense musical journey through fanciful worlds where you control a mechanical scarab as it speeds down various tracks at high speeds to the beat of an original soundtrack composed by Brian Gibson of noise-rock band Lightning Bolt. For those of you not familiar with how “rhythm games” work, note that while you will always be moving forward at constant speed along each track, there are many obstacles and hazards that will require you to press a button at the right time and in perfect rhythm with the beat of each track. A single mistake can cost you one of your three lives, and though checkpoints are fairly frequent throughout the game, failing too many times will result in having to restart the entire level over again from the beginning (just like they did way back when – how do they make those infinite levels stop?!). There is no real story here; you’re just going for a ride on some crazy tracks as an engine-grinding beetle-bot trying its best not to crash and burn (and boy does it ever) along the way.

This all comes together nicely into what’s presented as a very intense experience: flying down these sometimes straight, sometimes curvy tracks at high speeds with obstacle after obstacle to dodge all the while making sure you are pressing the correct button at perfect times in perfect rhythm with what’s happening on screen every step of the way. Depending on how well you’re doing, this can be a frantic affair or quite relaxing as you just bob your head along to the music without too much worry about missing that one small thing that will cost you a life later down the road (though even if it’s calm most of the time there are usually some most likely-unintentionally frightening creatures flying around everywhere).

Now for my thoughts on Thumper on the Oculus Quest: the game is still an intense musical ride through some beautiful worlds. The gameplay has not changed from its original form on other platforms and is every bit as intense (or relaxing) as it was there. The controls make full use of the Oculus Touch controllers: you hold one in each hand and must use the triggers to hit the right buttons at the right times. There is nothing more satisfying than coming up to a particularly difficult section and clearing it perfectly on your first try (though it’s also equally frustrating when you miss that last little thing that ends up obliterating you).

The most noticeable difference initially is how much crisper everything looks with the increased resolution of the Quest over its PS4 counterpart. Every detail from all five tracks can be seen clearly; I’m sure some people would argue with me saying that perhaps sacrifices were made with certain artistic choices to sharpen things up, but overall I don’t really care. The game was already great before this update, and it’s still just as amazing (if not more so) now.

The one big negative that Thumper had initially on the PS4 was a lack of multiplayer. This has been remedied as of today with an update bringing online leaderboards as well as a two-player split-screen mode – which is where my friend comes in who sat down next to me on my couch for a little bit of fun two-player Thumper action. We split the controller so we each had half: he controlled movement while I concentrated on dodging hazards and pressing buttons at exactly the right moments. It certainly wouldn’t have been possible on the PS4 version, but it works great here on the Oculus Quest.

Unfortunately, where I feel Thumper truly falls short (or would at least benefit from some improvement) is its lack of multiplayer support for anything other than two players on one couch; online leaderboards are great and all, but what if I wanted to play with someone halfway across the world? Or even just a random person who happens to be on my Oculus friend list? While this might not affect most people out there considering how much more difficult playing with others over one system tends to be when you’re in different locations, it’s still an inconvenience that can very easily be remedied in future updates so hopefully, they will consider adding this in – competition with strangers makes things infinitely more fun.

Overall, Thumper is still one of the best games I’ve played on any VR platform; it’s an intense ride with some amazing visuals and audio that make it feel like you’re right in the middle of all the action. It looks better than ever before on the Oculus Quest, and while I’m sure there are other people out there who may be put off by its lack of multiplayer support at launch (especially considering how much more intuitive playing with friends can be to gaming overall), for those who don’t mind playing alone I would wholeheartedly recommend picking up this game for your library just as soon as you can if you haven’t already – it’s worth every penny.

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