Rarely can a video game be called art. Certainly there are many titles that could be hailed as such based on the fidelity of their graphics. However, the intricacy of the environment that games rest in is equally important. Though Audiosurf isn't a premium AAA game with hyper-realistic effects and a legion of fans, it is just as deserving of the title "Art" as any Battlefield, Metro, or Witcher. Why? Unparalleled immersion.
Think about the premise of the game. Is it meant to be convey what Battlefield or its clones do? Is it meant to have a rich story? No, it's not even meant to resemble Guitar Hero. What Audiosurf does is manifest what we feel when we listen to music. When you feel the bass drop, you see it happen. When you feel a guitarist's riff, you watch it come alive in the form of hallucinogenic colors. It's evocative of the impulses and stimuli that course through our brains when we listen to music.
Now the concrete business behind the philosophical shell. Although Audiosurf uses Shader Model 3.0, the craftsmanship behind it's implementation is astounding. Vibrant colors and dynamic rendering add to the game's strengths. The graphical experience of Audiosurf changes with every song that you use, so no two songs will look the same.
Controlling a small shuttle, the main objective of the game is to collect colored blocks, meant to denote, well, notes. How this plays though varies by which shuttle you choose. Mono, for example, has only one colored block to worry about, and thus the objective is very straightforward. Collect the colored blocks, and avoid the grey ones. Three tiers of shuttles are available for selection, and each one represents the difficulty of the track.
For an indie title, there is a good amount of depth and replay value. This is further compounded by the musical element of the game. Depending on what you choose as your track, the game plays differently. Smooth, slow songs won't have the same amount of intensity as Finnish death metal or dubstep. However, no matter what you choose to play the game with, the experience is still seamless and beautiful.
Soundtracks. Lauded or despised, they are part of games. However, Audiosurf isn't a game with a soundtrack, it's a soundtrack with a game. It's impossible to have bad music in the background, as it is of your own choosing. In fact, the only disappointment in this game is it's somewhat unpolished menus. For a game that is as stunning as it is, it's menus are lackluster.
Audiosurf is a prime example of why video games can be considered art. Since art is defined as "the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination", a strong case can be made for Audiosurf. For one, it is certainly very original and creative, and the way that the game plays is very imaginative, not only of music but of human imagination as well. It attempts to visualize what happens when we listen to music. So on the surface, it appears to be a charmingly simple game with nearly unlimited replay value. When you really see it for what it is though, you realize that as much as you look at the game, it looks back at you.
All things considered, this is one of the most enjoyable games I've ever played, and it didn't cost a wallet-ful of money. The seamless integration of music and game is unequalled, and Audiosurf isn't a game to pass over. Weighing in at $10/€8 on Steam, and with the ability to run on hardware that belongs in a junkyard, this is really a title that anyone can enjoy. A demo is also available for free on Steam.