The ribbon of road ahead bucks and snarls, blocks and spikes cascading towards me, pulsing and bristling with internal energy. I do my best to capture the former and avoid the latter, diving between the track’s three lanes as needed. I’m dialled in to the action, head nodding to the music as I struggle to keep up with the flow, which becomes more challenging after the song crescendos and dynamically generated hell breaks loose in response. This is Audiosurf 2 at its best – a hypnotic rhythm-action game powered by songs from your PC or Soundcloud. Like the original, however, the ‘at its best’ part is confined to a few modes; the rest of them, sadly, are more miss than hit.
The no-nonsense score-chasing mode I’ve described above is called Mono. It was the most played mode in the original and it will likely be the most played in Audiosurf 2. Of course there’s more to it than simply dodging bad things and grabbing good things. Snagged blocks are collected – Tetris-style – at the bottom of the screen. After three or more blocks are linked, they’ll disappear after a short period of time. Collecting more blocks resets the timer, allowing you to keep filling up the three lanes. The more blocks in the grid, the higher the score awarded when they’re cleared. Reaching the top of a lane triggers an instant clear, so you often have to actually avoid blocks to fill the grid. Hell, you can even deliberately hit a spike to reset the timer.
Sounds straightforward, but you’re generally trying to do this while flying at a breakneck pace along a path bouncing and swerving and thick with blocks. There’s definitely a high multitasking skill ceiling here. Advanced players also need to pay attention to where the power-ups are on the course. The idea is that they pop up at climactic moments, and the more blocks in your grid when you nab that power-up, the higher the score reward. You’re meant to anticipate these moments in the music, but I found myself looking out for the tell-tale loops on the horizon.