SynthRiders is the cyberpunk-synthwave aerobics machine created by Retrowave VR, and it’s got serious cardio potential. My review showed some of the highest readings I’ve ever gotten playing VR games, including time spent in my beloved boxing titles. The game is already solid, with lots of levels and music to choose from, and a thriving editor.

But what’s a rhythm game without updates? Want new tracks? How about a new course, and an altogether greater challenge than ever before? Strap on those fingerless gloves, fire up the Delorean, and don your letterman’s jacket. We’re in deep here, and the pulse is hot!

Here are the major new updates brought to the game since the editor’s release in December.

New Features

SynthRiders was missing obstacles, and one of my chief complaints of the game was its difficulty. I expected a better difficulty curve, and I think obstacles have solved this problem. At higher levels, and on it’s tracks, players will now encounter walls shaped to encourage you to sidestep, lunge, and squat your way past them at high speeds.

Miss even one and your killer combo gets reset to 0 before you can say “Nintendo.”

The already robust lineup of stages now features “Neon Odyssey”.

But, would it be Synth Riders (or synthwave) without rich neon colors pulsing through everything? The new RGB editor allows players to change the colors of each hand, as well as the incoming targets. In practice, changing colors add some new dimension to the game. My brain was programmed to respond to the turquoise and neon pink the game uses by default. Switching those colors forced me to re-adjust, like a cheat that makes the game harder. I appreciate these smaller touches that add depth and force me to re-evaluate my playstyle.

New Songs

The latest major update brings two new songs to the already radical lineup of tunes: Satanic Panic by Occams Laser, and Vampirevania from Jeremiah Kane.

Vampirevania is moody and dark, opening with a sinister synth melody that leads into the thumping soundtrack. The prominent drums mark each beat, but Synth Riders takes advantage of the rich array of notes to reach and lunge toward our fittest selves. Available in Hard and Expert, you’ll need to work your way up to this track. You need to cross fists frequently in this track, so be sure you’re hand-eye coordination is up to par.

Satanic Panic, on the other hand, feels right at home on the Halloween soundtrack. Its breathy intro builds into a speedy beat that will have you frantically hunting for your next target. Unlike Vampirevania, this track is only available on Expert skill. Fortunately, this gives the best of us rhythm gamers a goal.

Speed through these new tracks in the new map, Neon Odyssey. Odyssey is a lot less busy than the other levels, and it currently occupies the first slot of available levels, so beginners will want to try their skills out on this one.

Synth Riders New Update

This new update adds a lot to love, and the new tracks are optimizations free. That’s not counting all of the optimization that went into both the game and editor. Editors can now create beatmaps down to the decimal point for extreme precision. The team has also added leaderboard functionality not just for every level that comes with the game, including by difficulty, but for custom edited levels as well.

Speaking of leaderboards, the game is a lot harder than when we first reviewed it. I was able to clear most songs on hard and score in the top 20. The new songs are quite difficult to get through, and they are only available at higher difficulty levels. The addition of walls made the game much harder and noticeably more physical, but the notes feel like they’ve been adjusted as well. It’s a bit difficult to say for sure since I haven’t thoroughly each build that came before this one, but the most recent build feels a lot more like it’s matching the skill level required for Beat Saber.

Don’t forget, Synth Riders is still an early access title so there’s more to come. Join the developer Discord channel if you want to get in on editing action, or sample some of the edited levels currently making their rounds.

That said, I appreciate the depth already present in Synth Riders. I still think it’s an excellent vanilla experience with the possibility to modify and make it as difficult as you might want. So, thrillseekers, what’s your favorite track?


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