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Track Lab

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Genre: Rhythm
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Little Chicken Game Company
Release Date: Aug. 21, 2018


PS4 VR Review - 'Track Lab'

by Cody Medellin on March 22, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Enter the virtual space of Track Lab and discover your ultimate untapped talent: the ability to create original music in seconds.

Buy Track Lab

One of the benefits of virtual reality is that is has the ability to take seemingly ordinary tasks and make them extraordinary due to taking a different approach. For example, digital painting has been a thing for decades, but the ability to take the power of digital painting and place it into a more natural environment via VR makes the old activity feel new again. Track Lab aims to do the same thing but with the act of creating music. That may sound exciting, but the end result is either a hit or a miss, depending on your approach.

The game is set amidst a cyberspace backdrop, and you're essentially given a grid and a cannon that shoots a ball of light. When the light ball travels through certain bubbles, it emits a specific sound. Since the light ball only travels in a straight line, you'll need other tools to help you move the light around to create more sounds. Angled walls, for example, bounce the light ball at a 90-degree angle. Splitters let the light ball travel down one path but also create a copy that simultaneously travels in a new direction. Mirror cubes bounce the ball back in the direction from which it came, while special squares either speed up or slow down the light ball.

The main mode lets you create music, and the interface is quite fun to use. Your toolbar is set at the bottom of the screen, and the music grid takes up the rest of the screen. You can make up instrumentals in a wide variety of styles, including dubstep, hip-hop, house, and trap to name a few. The tool set is pretty extensive, and placing each element is easy thanks to a very intuitive control scheme that lets you pick up anything from the toolbar and drag it to the grid before it plays. The good news is that the game claims to have thousands of samples, and based on the available genres, you're apt to believe them. The only thing that isn't very intuitive are the icons for each of the sound bubbles; some of them don't visually correspond to the instrument samples.

The tools are simple enough for people to pick up easily, and while it isn't going to be as robust as a real professional music creation suite, it'll do a job fine for those who want to play around and create something decent in a new and different way. However, there doesn't seem to be a way to export any of your creations. You could conceivably stream your sessions and then record the stream, but there's no easy way to get the audio, and that feels like a big omission in something that's designed to create music.

If you aren't interested in creating music, Track Lab still has a mode specifically for solving puzzles. The objective is to get the light balls over to specific nodes in order to turn them green. You have the same tools here as you would in music creation mode, so this could serve as a tutorial, since you'll be getting familiar with the tools. The puzzle mode is great, and some of the puzzles can be good brain-teasers. The real knock against this mode is how light it is on content. There are four difficulty levels, and each one has three tracks to solve, each of them split up into eight sections. It doesn't take long to solve each puzzle, and with the exception of a section here or there, there's hardly anything that'll stump you. There's also nothing special that is unlocked once you solve the puzzles, so beyond completing it, there's not much of an incentive to play it.

Track Lab is an interesting title. If you're looking at it as a game, it has some great puzzle mechanics, but there's only enough content to last you about an hour unless you get stuck on one of the puzzles. If you're looking at it as a music creation tool, the interface is novel but not something you'll use to seriously create tunes, especially since there's no easy way to export your creations. Ultimately, Track Lab is more of a fun toy in VR but not something you'll be itching to visit more than a few times.

Score: 5.5/10

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