VOEZ (Free) by Rayark International Limited is a gorgeous rhythm music game that puts the spotlight on J-pop. If you’re a fan of games like Dance Dance Revolution or the classic Tap Tap Revenge, and enjoy a bit of catchy J-pop tunes, then VOEZ is one to check out. It’s an fine addition to the other fine games from Rayark, including Cytus, Deemo, and Implosion – Never Lose Hope.
Back when I was in high school, I hung out with a group of friends who were super into Japanese culture and anime, which rubbed off on me. Even though I haven’t kept up with animes in the past few years, I still love Japanese culture and the anime and manga art style. I also remember listening to my fair share of J-pop back in the day, and that was when those music games with plastic peripherals were all the rage. While I definitely wasn’t the best with music games back then, I still enjoyed them a lot since they were challenging and just downright fun. I’m not too familiar with Cytus or Deemo since I haven’t had the chance to check them out, but with VOEZ featured on the App Store, I couldn’t pass it up, especially since I liked Implosion a lot.
Visually, VOEZ is stunning. It features beautiful hand-painted anime-style art and visuals, which will appeal to anyone who is even the least bit interested in Japanese culture. The art for each of the characters is rendered gorgeously, and all of the colors are soft but still vibrant enough to stand out. The musical notes are simple shapes and lines that fall down onto the screen in brightly colored sections, so while it looks simple enough, things still get pretty tricky as you up the difficulty levels for each track. All animations in VOEZ are smooth and fluid, which is necessary for a musical rhythm game, but be prepared for somewhat long wait times as the game loads up all of the data needed for each track. It reminds me of those times I play on my PlayStation 4 and have to load up the next section in a game — yeah, the wait between tracks can be that long. Hopefully they can make it a bit quicker in the future.
Since this is a rhythm game, the meat of VOEZ is all about the musical tracks that are included. The initial download includes a good amount of different tracks that you can play and unlock as you make progress, and the developers are planning to add more each month. If you’re looking for American music, then you should turn back now — there is nothing but dynamic J-pop songs that will sound a bit differently depending on how you perform. But if you’re a fan of the music genre, then you’ll find yourself in a slice of heaven with VOEZ. I found the songs to be soothing and catchy, and once you get some practice with tapping to the beat, things get pretty addictive.
Like other music games, VOEZ has a lot of songs that are available with the initial download, but you’ll have to clear songs in order before you can unlock them all. Or, if you’re impatient and want to get a later song now, you can unlock them by using “keys” that are earned from playing, or you can pay to unlock it through in-app purchase. There are also in-app purchases to get more keys too. I’m not that big of a fan of this system, since it doesn’t seem like unlocking new songs requires too much skill. At least you get a good variety of songs to start with, though.
VOEZ is rather interesting since it’s a music game but there is a storyline to it. In VOEZ, players will meet Chelsea and her high school classmates, who come together and make their mutual dream come true by forming a band together, which is called VOEZ. They will face hardships together, but their end goal is to make sure that the world knows their music. It’s a pretty cliché plot, in my opinion, but it works for the game, art, and music. And it does add another layer of depth to the game’s journey, which is nice to have.
Controls in VOEZ are simple enough. With single notes, you will want to tap on them as they hit the line. The longer notes require you to tap-and-hold the screen, even slowly moving your finger in the direction that the lines are going toward. Then there are single notes that require a swipe in the direction they’re pointing at. While this all may sound easy enough, like with any other rhythm game, things can get pretty fast and hectic, especially in the higher difficulty levels, so you’ll need good hand-and-eye coordination to keep up with the beat. To make things more complicated, each track has dynamic notes, meaning that the lines for the notes can move around on the screen, so you’ll have to make sure you keep a close eye on them. These small additions to the gameplay make VOEZ stand out from the competition, and it makes things much more interesting than the status quo for music games.
I’ve only started on VOEZ a bit over the weekend, but so far I’m finding the game to be fun and enjoyable, despite the weird system for unlocking songs. The art is superb, the tunes are fun and memorable if you’re into J-pop at all, and the controls are simple enough to learn even for music game novices. However, the dynamic gameplay for each song makes the game refreshing and challenging, so if you’re looking for a test of your rhythm, then VOEZ will do rather nicely. I just want to see shorter load times for each track and a better unlock system in the future, but I am looking forward to checking out monthly new tunes.
I recommend VOEZ to anyone who is into music rhythm games, or just enjoy J-pop and anime-style art in general. VOEZ can be found on the App Store as a free universal download with in-app purchases.