Having to walk across the room to put the Ring Fit cartridge in my Switch has kept me from working out, so how does Hitstream have me sweating up a storm?
- Title: Hitstream
- Release Date: October 31, 2022 (SteamVR version)
- Price: $19.99
- Availability: Steam, Meta Quest
- Recommended for fans of: DDR, Shadow Boxing, and Spinning in Circles
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
As a perpetually overweight nerd, I've been looking for the video game that will get me into fitness since Dance Dance Revolution. I've played all sorts of Wii and Ring Fits with varying degrees of success, but always end up feeling like I'd rather just be playing a game than looking at my TV and running in place. To that end, some of the most physically active gaming I've ever done has actually been playing VR games where I wasn't trying to get fit at all. Just being up and moving in a virtual space kept me engaged, and kept me, well, up!
Hitstream is a game that's been out on the Meta Quest 2 for a while but has just made its way to SteamVR and all the headsets available there. I got a chance to check out the Quest 2 version for this new release, and I'm now a huge fan of this as a great way to get yourself active and moving thanks to its very fast gameplay and prescribed session times.
Fans of Beat Saber will immediately recognize the basic gameplay concepts of Hitstream. There are two different colored sets of icons that come at your face, asking for you to swat at them with your two different colored hands. There are three main targets you'll find here, which include symbols asking you to punch, swipe, or just touch them. There are also portals you need to lean or squat to get your head into, and walls that you have to dodge around. As a guy with terrible knees, I was really glad that I was able to turn off the “squats” option as soon as I finished the tutorial.
There's really not a lot in the core gameplay loop that feels fresh, except that the game has you turning in circles as you play. Targets can come from any direction, so often after finishing off one string there will be a glowing light having you turn towards another track for the next set. I'm not sure why this makes the game so much more fun for me, but I really enjoyed having to constantly shift around. It does mean you need to be sure that you've got a good amount of space on all sides, however.
As a cardiovascular tool, I really like the structure of Hitstream. Instead of picking a song to play, the game is broken up into playlist chunks by time period. This means you can choose to play 10, 20, or 30 minutes worth of the game in one go. On one side, it's great to be able to just pop the Quest on and play for 10 minutes while taking a break from work. On the other side, you can choose a longer set to make yourself build up more of a sweat without having an easy jumping-off point when it's time to pick a new song.
The music and visuals are neither as striking nor as memorable as what you'd find in games more focused on the rhythm side of things. The game is fast and fluid, though, and most of the music I've come across has been fun enough that I find myself bouncing along with it along with wildly throwing punches. I do caution against playing this game around others, though, because there's no faster way to get made fun of than having slightly generic techno blaring out of a VR headset while you fight off ghosts.
Hitstream feels like a bit less of a game than Beat Saber or other VR games that happen to make the player be active, but it feels way more one than any exercise game I've played on a TV. The virtual environment (which changes as you play) is way more engrossing and engaging than anything I've tried to commit to on a flat screen. I'm also super satisfied with how quick and easy it is to jump into a segment without getting hung up on picking songs or difficulty or any other small step that can make the “just do something active” process a little tougher.
I've only played the Quest 2 version of Hitstream, but if you've got either a Meta headset or a PCVR rig with an HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Valve Index and are looking for a way to spend a few minutes building up a sweat, this is an easy recommend!