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Synth Riders Review – The Ultimate Rhythm Fitness Dance Game?

Dance, box and move your way to fitness.


Synth Riders is a VR rhythm, fitness, game that really brings a lot to the genre. Synth Riders is a part freestyle dance game, and part boxing, rhythm game.   Let’s break it down and get to this Synth Riders review.

What is Synth Riders?

Synth Riders is easy enough for people new to VR to play. Your hands are brightly colored orbs. No sabers here folks. The world looks like something out of the 80’s movie Tron mixed with Cyberpunk. Everything is bright, beautiful, and neon. As the music plays in the background, all you need to do is touch the notes as they fly towards you in time to the song.

Who Make Synth Riders?

SynthRiders is made by LA developer Kluge Interactive. They have created many web experiences but Synth RIders is their only VR project.

Which Headset is SynthRiders Available on?

Synth Riders is available on Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift (including cross buy), and Steam VR.

Synth Riders Review Gameplay

Although that sounds simple enough, the game has some additional harder moments including, flowing all the way along the rails, put your hands together and hit both notes for the next section, dodging obstacles, optional spinning, or choose one arm for the next section of notes.  When you hit a note there is pleasant, haptic feedback, vibration feel on your controllers that lets you know you hit correctly and this really puts you in the song.

There are two modes rhythm and force. If you select force you will need to punch the notes like a boxing game. Rhythm is the typical touch the notes in time version.

If you want to get good at this game you are going to need to dance. Sure you can just kind of flail your arms around to try and hit the notes, and that works, but getting really high scores requires a real dancing vibe that happens as you play more of the songs.

There is a detailed tutorial to walk you through all the various special sections and make sure you understand how the game works. I fully recommend giving this a go when you start up even if you are familiar with VR rhythm games. Also, notice the big head matching your own head in the background of the tutorial for a fun Easter egg 🙂

Regular Songs and DLC Packs to Enjoy

At the time of this writing, there are 67 Songs for you to enjoy as part of Synth Riders. 52 core songs and 15 DLC extra purchase songs. These songs range from dubstep, electronica to swing and retro 80’s feel. There are some “bands you know” songs too, including Muse, Parov Stellar, The Midnight, Gunship, Celldweller, and Sunset Neon.

I really want to take a moment to focus on the Electro Swing pack. This unique genre of music is often not seen in these rhythm games and I’m not sure why! Dancing along to the punchy, roaring 20’s type music makes for a wicked fun experience. Even if this isn’t your normal style of music I recommend giving it a try.

Muse Algorithm DLC Experience

Now I really have to mention the Muse DLC “experience” for the song Algorithm. When you start this song up, a pop-up will appear allowing you to try the experience version of the song. Wow oh wow!

You will still play Synth Riders, but the visuals in the background and the way the notes play out are really something else. There are robots, visuals, lights, and really well-synced notes. When your hands are floating along the rails and the music crescendo’s to a peak as fireworks explode in the background, it really is breathtaking. This is a super great example (when on a normal or easy level) of something to show people who are new to VR and you want to wow them.


Multiplayer Mode in Synth Riders

You can play Synth Riders in multiplayer mode. Create a private room for just you and your friends or hope in with some randoms. This is a great fun challenge for keeping the game fresh when you are tired of playing solo. It’s an extra challenge to play against someone live and try and beat their score.

I’m part of a group that gets together and does regular workouts with up to 10 people at a time and it is a great motivational factor to keep going. (check Facebook for many similar groups) Everyone can hear everyone else talking, during multiplayer so it’s a great way to feel like you are actually playing together. An included feature is the “Play Together”, where if the host has the DLC paid song, everyone in the room gets to play them for free. A really nice inclusive way to try out some songs with friends to decide if you want to purchase them.

Finally, I need to mention Power-Ups. This was a recent optional, fun, update to Synth Riders that includes Mario Kart style power-ups to use when playing multiplayer. Collect energized notes as you play multiplayer and then release “attacks” on the other players like space invaders, prism colors, and changing the colors of the balls. These totally free included extras really help to keep the game fresh and new especially when playing with others.


Party Mode in Synth Riders Review

There is also a Party Mode in Synth Riders. If you have one VR headset and you want to play against your friends in your house, boot up party mode. You will each play the song one at a time and see who gets the top score. A nice little extra addition that’s included at no extra cost.

How to Add Synth Riders Custom Songs

Many people feel that working out is better when there are songs you know. Synth Riders VR gives you that option with the ability to add custom songs. You can create your own or download thousands of already made options. The software is free to download, but it definitely has a bit of a learning curve.  There are an active discord server and community to help you through.

Regardless, other brave souls have likely already created the custom song you are looking for, and getting it in your game is as easy as downloading it and placing it in the Quest 2 Synth Riders directory. That will temporarily require a computer to do so, but don’t worry we will walk you through the steps right here

Create a custom song using the free Synth Riders editor or you can check out a website like Synth Riderz (not affiliate directly with Synth Riders). From Maneater,  Hall & Oats to Shake it Off, Taylor Swift to Magic Dance from Labyrinth, David Bowie – SynthRiderz has thousands of premade, user-created, custom songs for you to enjoy.  Choose some songs you like and then follow the next steps to get them in game.

How to Install Synth Riders Custom Songs

One of the coolest features is the ability to have Synth Riders Customs songs. It is really easy to do

  1. Download the custom song to your computer. They look like this – 1494-David-Bowie-Magic-Dance-Fasty and will end in .Snyth
  2. Attach your Oculus Quest 2 to the Computer and allow the ability to browse files in the headset
  3. Browse to this directory -> Internal shared storage > Android > data > com.Kluge.SynthRiders > files > CustomSongs
  4. Place your custom songs in that directory (Drag and drop)

That’s it. Enjoy your Synth Riders custom songs.

Can you workout with Synth Riders? Is Synth Riders a Fitness Game?

Synth Riders is definitely going to make you sweat, especially on the higher difficulty levels. You can get a solid cardio workout by playing Synth Riders.

Along with putting your hands above and below your head for the entire song (like sneaky, jumping jacks) Synth Riders is also causing your entire body to move as you duck and dodge obstacles. When you are holding both hands above your head for 20 seconds and then quickly pushing them to the side you will feel it. There are no breaks in the song which means your heart rate stays up for the entire experience.

According to the Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise, Synth Riders is equal to doing Ellipticals or depending on your weight,  burning 4-6 Kcal/Min. To me it’s a lot more fun to dance along to some futuristic songs than boring, old standing stationary, climbing endlessly.  A good half-hour workout could burn you 150-350 calories!

Does Synth Riders cause Motion Sickness?

You are stationary in this game unless you turn on the spinning option. The spinning option rotates the incoming notes slightly from left to right or even in a 360-degree pattern. This is optional and only used at a higher level of gameplay.  Even with that, you should experience little to no motion sickness from this game because you are standing on a stationary spot as notes float towards you.

Synth Riders should not cause any motion sickness issues.

Final Thoughts for Synth Riders Review


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