Review: Auditorium HD
Back in 2009, indiepubgames held a game competition, and the grand prize went to Cipher Prime’s Auditorium. November 23rd marked the PSN release of Auditorium HD, a revisited and revamped version of the incredibly original music/puzzle title. With a total of 150 levels – 78 of which feature new levels and music – Auditorium HD provides PSN users the unique experience that the original has for a couple of years, now.
What is perhaps Auditorium’s strongest attribute is its intuitive nature. I was surprised at the game’s utter lack of a tutorial, but was even more surprised at how easy the game is to pick up and play. As soon as you start up Auditorium HD, you’re brought to a tracklist. You may choose to select a song or switch to the new ‘modern’ tracklist. When you begin playing, you’re brought to a gray screen. There is a flow of particles spouting from somewhere, and a circle pulsates in the center of the screen. It quickly becomes apparent that moving the left joystick moves the circle, and when the circle and the stream of particles (The Flow) meet, the fireworks set off. A stack of rectangles fills up as a piece of music grows louder. Without any explanation, you’ve learned how to play Auditorium: Using Flow modifiers, fill up audio containers.
Indeed, the game begins simply enough. The first modifiers you will use to manipulate The Flow will be directional: Left, right, up down. The audio containers will also be basic at first, requiring you to fill them with a single color each. When you reach the end of a track, all of the separate song pieces you put together play at once, making a complete orchestrated arrangement. As you unlock new tracks, you are granted new modifiers to accomplish your task. The first song of each track is simple and teaches you how to use a new modifier. As you progress through the track, the game reintroduces former modifiers and sets environmental obstacles about the screen. By environmental obstacles I mean things like colored circles that modify The Flow’s color, stationary dots that split The Flow in two, multiple Flows, teleporters, and even black holes that swallow light particles upon touch. Audio containers become halved (and later split into thirds), requiring different colored Flows to be streaming by them simultaneously. Believe me, the game gets rather complex as you progress.
The graphics for Auditorium are initially underwhelming, but as soon as you get further in, The Flow will be flailing about the screen, filling up audio containers you would have previously thought were inaccessible. Each puzzle can be solved a multitude of ways, promoting the creativity of the gamer. This also boosts the replayability of the game, if only by a bit. You don’t always have to use all of the modifiers to win. When you possess a better understanding of all of your tools, you can even cheat a little by filling up one container then manually transporting The Flow to another. If you move quickly enough, the former container will not diminish by the time you fill the latter one. It isn’t really cheating; there’s even a trophy awarded for using this method.
Auditorium HD supports stereoscopic 3D and the PlayStation Move controller. I can’t attest to what the game looks like in 3D since I haven’t taken that plunge quite yet, but the Move implementation is rather precise. It doesn’t work like a pointer, which is what I initially thought. Rather, the cursor on screen mirrors where the Move is. It’s an implementation similar to that in Start the Party and Beat Sketcher, to name a few. At first I was bummed that I’d have to actually move to play, but I found that it was actually pretty cool to use the Move as something like a conductor’s baton. The Move button selects the modifier, and if you hold both the Move and Trigger buttons simultaneously, you can increase or decrease the size (thus, intensity) of the modifier. The DualShock controls are fine, too, with the left stick moving, the right stick changing the size of, and the L1 and R1 buttons switching between modifiers.
Auditorium HD is a fine game. Cipher Prime has done a good job remastering their already artistic gaming experience. The 78 new levels add some more gameplay to the package, but to be honest, as soon as you get a handle on the modifiers, each puzzle doesn’t take too long to solve, so you’ll burn through them relatively quickly. It’s very cool that there are multiple solutions to each puzzle, but it also makes the game a bit easy until you reach the final tracks. On one hand, the sparse presentation gets you into the game quickly, but it bothered me a bit that there were no control options or additional features such as screenshots. The music in the game is a variety of orchestral movements, all of which are pleasant to the ear and quite fun to put together by filling up containers with The Flow. The steady stream of new modifiers and obstacles is what kept me playing for long periods at a time. I suggest switching back and forth between Classic and Modern, because you if you play through one mode then the other (which is what I did), the game loses some if its appeal. You won’t be discovering new modifiers, and the level of difficulty plummets since you’ll be well versed in how to use each of them. Don’t get me wrong, Auditorium is an original, audio-visual experience of a game, and I’m happy to see its release on the PSN. Even with the extra tracks, though, it runs a bit short, and there’s not much that will have you replaying it from the start. Try the demo over at indiepub to get a feel for it yourself. It’s definitely worth a shot.
For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Creative concept intuitively executed
- Multiple solutions
- Steady introduction of new content
- Soothing tunes
What I Dislike:
- Bare-bones presentation and option settings
- Not too difficult until the final few tracks