Ragnarock

Ragnarock

We salute you.

ragnarock

There’s always a need for a killer app when a new piece of hardware launches, and the PSVR2 is no different.  Clearly, Horizon Call of the Mountain is around to showcase the potential and what the new features are, and there are plenty of demands to port Halflife: Alyx with it being widely regarded as the best FPS title available on PC rigs; but I’d argue slightly differently in what defines the best launch experience.  For me it’s a game that can convey the benefits of playing it in virtual reality, something that showcases the immersion and the physicality; yet is easy to pick up and play, anyone can understand it, and (most importantly) it has to be fun.  For the last generation of PlayStation VR that was Beat Sabre, and in a similar vein we now have Ragnarock.  Who wouldn’t want to take part in a Viking Longboat race, banging drums along to folk metal in order to win?

The premise is amazingly simple – music will play, runes will come at you from the front of the boat, you smash them against the drums to keep the rowers in time.  Hit them perfectly and you’ll be cruising at top speed, miss them and the pace will drop.  Your aim is to get the furthest distance during the length of the track.  There, that’s it.  If you hit enough of the runes in sequence you’ll get a speed boost that you can claim by bashing one of the shields on the side of the boat, and you can even save that up for a bigger boost by trying to continue the combo.  Miss a beat and it’ll be lost though, so make sure you’re confident in your drumming skills to get the best out of it.  With no buttons to press or complex actions to take, it really is as straightforward as bashing the four drums in front of you.  Of course, simple doesn’t mean it’s easy…

With any rhythm action game the challenge starts off being something that you breeze through, and then as you get more used to the flow and pacing the complexity ramps up.   For Ragnarock this is in the number of runes that fly your way rather than adding additional layers in, and your success is determined by how well you are able to keep up.  There is no let up when it starts going, with most of the tunes being full on stompers that demand observation as well as accuracy, though in a nice touch you don’t seem to be able to fail them.  Missing the beats will mean the boat doesn’t go the distance it needs for a medal, yet it does mean you can experience the full track and learn some of the patterns, which is unlike a number of games of this style where it stingily hides the music behind a difficulty spike.  Whilst it’s not likely you’ll have come across any of the songs before, they are definitely one of the highlights to enjoy.

Songs in Ragnarock are mostly Scandinavian themed, and predominantly covering Viking mythology, so a passing knowledge of the ancient tales (or a few watches of Marvel films) will give you a better insight into what the lyrics are about.  Some are heavy metal, some are more folk-based, and others are pure rock.  In the context of the game they work in tandem with the visuals and the central premise, and will have you getting into a groove with them pretty quickly.  It features a lot of music too and there’s little repetition for a good while if you tackle them in sequence and build up your skills.  An overly cartoony art style adds to the lighthearted nature and it goes as far as letting you customise the hammers and boat if you complete certain challenges.  There needs to be a shout out to the Sense Controller’s haptics (as well as the headset) as they manage to really sell the impact of striking the drums, delivering a tangible feedback that’s a pleasure to feel.

What more is there to say about Ragnarock?  Donning a VR headset and clicking start is about the most complicated element to get your mind around, after that it’s just smacking things with large hammers, and it couldn’t be more satisfying.  There’s a minor niggle about the odd rune not getting registered as a hit, though I’m inclined to think that’s in situations where I’ve just not given it enough welly to smash it and register the impact.  Anyone wanting to show off the fun side of VR and get a bit of a workout at the same time should be seriously interested in picking this up, hopefully it won’t end up giving you Thor arms.

A PSVR2 review copy of Ragnarock was provided by WanadevStudio’s PR team, and the game is available now for around £20 on PS5 and PC.

The Verdict

9Amazing

The Good: Simple to learn, hard to master | Great variety of tunes

The Bad: Will make you feel both supreme and incompetent at the same time

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Matt

Co-founder & Editor at Codec Moments

Gamer, F1 fanatic, one half of the Muddyfunkrs DJ duo (find us over on Hive Radio UK), MGS obsessed, tech geek.


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