Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
The call of the apocalypse isn’t an easy one to ignore mostly because it’s the end of the world and if you don’t fight, you and those you care for don’t get to survive. Wait? Ragnarock and not Ragnarok? Oh my bad, I didn’t know we were getting the band together. Forget about fighting and get your drums ready for some high octane power metal!
Ragnarock’s premise is a simple one. Based on experiences that have come before it such as Frequency, Amplitude, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, AudioSurf and more, this music based rhythm simulator will have you dawning on a virtual reality (VR) helmet and banging on imaginary drums upon a Viking longship in a series of great tracks and amazing looking scenery.
Basically the maiden voyage for my Valve Index, I was fairly impressed with Ragnarock. Set before you is an easy to use interface as you select your tracks and then hope onto your Viking longship for a jam session. Just about always starting with a bang, you have four drums in front of you with two symbols to the left and right that can be adjusted to either better see or more easily hit without even looking at them to give an extra oomph to your notes.
This is one thing that I really appreciated, the ability to adjust everything set out in front of you. Using one of the shorter tracks that clocked in at about a minute I was able to figure out exactly how high my drum should be off the ground and then accordingly adjust the symbols to the left and the right. As you’re standing in the middle of the room while “technically” stationary, it’s nice that you can set everything to how you personally stand (or potentially sit if you need to) as you bang away to the beat of the tracks.
This is perhaps the biggest draw to an experience such as this. Like some of the others that have come before it in which you are hitting keys or hitting pads on physical equipment, Ragnarock is all virtual meaning that everything you hit doesn’t actually make a sound to anyone else around you. To you though? With the maneuvering of your arms back and forth across the four drums ahead of you it feels like you’re hitting them as you see the hammer strike down on the notes. It feels like the base is shaking the walls as the high octane music fills the air as you sail forward. And yet to anyone else around, depending on how loud your headphones are, not a sound is to be heard.
The stages themselves are pretty standard following a simple format, beat the drums to the rhythm of the song until you reach the end. The higher the difficulty, the more notes and diversity in how you hit each note raises in complexity. It gets pretty intense but the tracks do a good job at getting you into higher difficulties as long as you stick with the leftmost column as you make your way down the list. An interesting twist on ghost times / scores though is that after you’ve done a stage once, you’ll be racing against another longship and you get to see in real time how well or how bad you’re doing against your personal best.
On a final note, yes I’ve gone there, the audio is nuts. I know that depending upon a person’s equipment there could be some changes as the Index’s built- in audio will be different from anything coming from Bose, Turtle Beach, Sennheiser or whatever actual speakers could be sitting on your desk. In any of these cases though the audio tracks themselves are crystal clear and I loved how much Glorryhammer was in there including my personal favorite track Universe on Fire.
I’ve played a fair amount of rhythm simulators over the years from the precursors on the PlayStation 2 to the more rock band-like physical instrumentals on the PlayStation and Xbox but nothing compared to this. On average I can’t really carry a rhythm past a certain point, I’m just not that musically inclined and can’t follow the notes after a certain speed. Yet, because of how Ragnarock is designed because I am physically moving my hammers to what was in front of me, even higher pace tracks made me feel engaged other than frustrated and defeated. It was a great feeling and a decent workout after a while.
Overall though, whether using one headset or another, fans of rhythm simulators and European power metal should definitely check out this Viking visual styled head banger.Score: 9 / 10