There’s no better moment than now to find a reason to get up and moving, which is probably why acclaimed AR/VR studio Within launched its at-home VR fitness app Supernatural (2020). The gameified fitness app will get your heart pumping to the beat of a list of songs from popular artists, all while you have a digital personal trainer piped into your ears for encouragement. Is it worth the monthly $19 subscription price though? The short answer: not for me, but it could be for you.

Supernatural Details:

Developer: Within
Available On: Oculus Quest
Reviewed On: Quest
Release Date: April 23rd, 2020
Price: $19 per month subscription, free 30-day trial

Gameplay

I didn’t realize at first why Within decided to release Supernatural only on Quest, but after the first few moments of going through setup phase, which recorded my height and taught me the basic moves, it became apparent to me that wire-free was the only way to go with Supernatural’s frenetic workouts.

Much like Beat Saber (2018), you’re tasked with hitting directional-based objects, which in the case of Supernatural are black and white orbs with a translucent cone to indicate which side of the orb you need to smash through, using your matching black and white bats of course.

To get you moving around, you also have to fit through incoming glowing white triangles, forcing you to lunge left or right, or assume a standard squat position. Little tails coming from some orbs lead you to spin your whole body to a new position, giving you a gradual 360 spin around the room on a central axis. That last part, combined with the lunging and striking at the same time, would be super frustrating with a cable in the way, so the Quest-only approach makes a lot of sense here.

Since my gym has been closed for months now, and I’ve completely neglected my workout routine as a result, Supernatural proved to be a great all-around heart-pumping exercise to get me moving again, offering about the same level of activity that you might get from a step class. Although my Fitbit Charge HR2 couldn’t pair with the smartphone app (many fitness trackers do), recording it separately showed I was consistently hitting the ‘Fat Burning’ stage, and only sometimes dipping into ‘Cardio’ stage for my weight, height and age.

There are a handful of workouts right now (more are added every day), all of which are based on that orb-smashing, triangle-squatting concept. They do however vary in duration, difficulty, and coach. Workouts span anywhere from 12 to 26 minutes, and include several high-profile songs—almost too many to name. Suffice it to say that it’s not your mishmash of hip EDM titles like you’ll find outside of the DLC music packs on Beat Saber, but rather recognizable singles from across many musical genres.

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In addition to workouts with set difficulties, there’s also a number of them with an automatic difficulty adjuster based on your ability, which at times kept me at the point of utter confusion with the amount of orbs to smash and triangles to fit inside. I would have liked to manually choose difficulty for these auto-difficulty workouts, but the studio has been adamant about throwing out a new workout every day since launch, making for a pretty wide selection for any level user.

Getting the high score isn’t just about the accuracy points either, not entirely. You’re also graded on power, which is combined in a composite power/accuracy score. Besides keeping track of your growing muscle memory of a track, this also keeps you from taking any shortcuts by wrist-waggling the controller, as you need good, smooth, powerful follow-through to get the highest power points.

Image courtesy Within

To be frank, I was expecting a lot more variety from the onset, maybe even some muscle specialization, stretching routines, and different style games to chew on. That, I feel, may be what makes or breaks Supernatural in the long run if it wants to keep subscribers on board. The game itself is very fun, and it nestles very easily into my Beat Saber skill set—you might call it the number one Beat Saber competitor based on its stark similarities to the genre-defying forebear.

Image courtesy Within

That said, I’ve been happily coasting on the free 30-day trial, and while I’ve been genuinely enjoying it so far, I just don’t know if now is the right time to commit to making Supernatural a core part of my fitness program. For $19 a month, which is a little under the price of a monthly subscription at the YMCA, I would expect a buffet of different fitness activities to keep me coming back for more.

I say this with the knowledge that most of humanity is locked in their houses right now, so I can see people signing up for Supernatural for a few months and forking over that monthly Andrew Jackson as a means of self-motivation to continue working out—and having a lot more fun doing it than spending 30 minutes on the elliptical while they’re at it. This leaves me a bit conflicted personally. You may find the value to price proposition enough to keep you returning every week, but I simply can’t when I already use my standard mix of Beat Saber, Knockout League, and Space Pirate Trainer to keep the blood from pooling in my butt cheeks.

SEE ALSO
This 'Beat Saber' Project Uses AI to Generate Custom Beat Maps for Any Song

Immersion

The game’s developer Within is one of the best in the field when it comes to polish, and I expected no less going into Supernatural. Here, you’re treated to amazing 360 landscapes paired with near-photorealistic rendered foregrounds, making for a convincing illusion that you’re working out in a rice paddy at sunset, on the Icelandic tundra, or in the Scottish Highlands.

Everything in Supernatural looks like it sprung out of a science fiction film, as if it were some sort of fitness program you’d use while stuck on a deep space transport mission to Omicron Persei 8. That alone is a charming little slice of weirdness that you can only have in VR.

As far as immersion is concerned, hitting black and white orbs while you’re floating over an ocean is pretty abstract. One of the most immersive bits though is the individual coaches, who help ground the workout with a pre-workout chat, and then continue with disembodied suggestions, motivation, and most everything you’d expect from a personal trainer.

I say most everything because the coach’s dynamic dialogue doesn’t cover all aspects of what you might expect from a live instructor, who can actively correct your form, and make truly individual suggestions to your behavior. I have an old tennis elbow injury from overextending my arm too much in karate, so I know not to extend my arm too much now, or risk the aching pain returning. I wonder whether the virtual coach might actually encourage ‘bad form’, the enemy of all fitness instructors, with their implicit silence.

Comfort

Since fitness is the name of the game, and you’ll be making fast and powerful arm and leg movements, you really have to crank the Quest down on your head to make sure it’s stable enough on your noggin and not flopping around. If it isn’t tight, you may feel a bit woozy after having the virtual world move independently from your eyes at such regular and frenetic intervals.

Otherwise, besides the not-so-awesome ergonomics of the Quest and discomfort associated with getting sweat on the facial interface, Supernatural is a very comfortable experience overall.

Make sure to dress the part, use a washable VR cover, and move the couch and cat away from you, and you’ll be sweating to the oldies, beginner or advanced VR user alike.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall
7.7

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  • Thanks for reading our Supernatural review! Please note the following before commenting so that we can have a thoughtful discussion:

    • We scored this game 7.7/10 – ‘Good’ by our linear scale.

    • Even if the text of the review focuses more on critique than praise, or vice versa, the score aims to boil down the reviewer’s overall opinion of the experience.

    • If you haven’t played the game, understand the limits of your knowledge.

    • If you have played part of the game, your experience may differ from those who have completed it in its entirety.

    • Road to VR does not ever accept payment for reviews or any editorial content.

  • Raphael

    Do you not think we have enough subscriptions in our lives already. Why the f*ck would I want to buy this game every month… Why would I want to buy the same game over and over again every month?

    • gothicvillas

      Yup it doesn’t make sense to me too

  • ComfyWolf

    While it’s interesting, I don’t know how much appeal this will actually have, especially at that price, over $200 a year. I expect it to drop its price pretty quickly, but maybe it’ll be able to keep it up until after the quarantine. There’s many other active games on the Quest for a single non-recurring price, I feel only those that take their fitness super seriously would be interested in this long-term, but then again people that take it super seriously will probably prefer real life personal trainers.

  • Paul Schuyler

    When I see aggressive pricing schemes like this up front, I just think…’eh, pass.’ Even if they lower the price, you know they’ll raise it to the max every chance they get even if you do try it and do really like it. Seriously $240/yr when you can get a quest for less than $500? In this fledgling industry? This will pay (in one year) for your entire library of games. Its an extremely arrogant and ignorant pricing scheme. Not only will I not bother with even a free trial, I won’t bother to read the whole review.

  • Hivemind9000

    I can’t see the justification for a subscription service. Normally you would do this to cover ongoing server costs (like for running a MMO) or for a steady stream of fresh content that the game requires in order to keep fresh. Of course there are other ways to monetize the latter, such as DLC addons, in-game purchases and the like.

    This doesn’t appear to be that sort of game/app. Would be better suited for a one-time payment and the option to add-on new scenes, trainers and session types.

    • James Cobalt

      The issue is, they are licensing (and paying mappers and motivational trainers) for new tracks every week to keep it interesting. Music licensing is $$$. Employees are also $$$; to speak nothing of all the costs gone into it already from the development and marketing side. I’m not sure how much lower they could reduce the price if you’re getting, say, 20 new music tracks each month. Probably depends largely on what kind of agreement they worked out for the music.
      As it stands, it is hard to justify the subscription cost, regardless of what it costs them to keep this thing running. If they want to compete with a gym membership, it needs a more rounded experience – like yoga and strength training.

      • User_Name_24601

        Yup. A single song can start out at $30k. It adds up quick.

  • Guest

    Read between the lines in those privacy policies. In America all these internet based health apps affect the price of your health insurance!

    • Guy

      So if you do bad its like buying booze with your credit card?

  • $19 / month = $228 per annum

    Looks like great fitness training, but the pricing is excessive.

    More realistic pricing would attract larger numbers, bear in mind incomes are falling as jobs are made redundant with some workers furloughed or dismissed due to economic shock of coronavirus shutdown.

  • Dan Lokemoen

    Hey, you can play twenty bucks a month to play a Beat Saber ripoff. ARE YOU LISTENING, STADIA OWNERS?

  • CURTROCK

    As a gamer, i hate subscription options, and hard pass every time. However, my g/f loves Supernatural and says it negates the need for her cardio/step membership at the gym. She uses this app 5 days a week, which means it costs about 1 buck per sweaty workout. She views this as a money saving & convenience WIN on every level.

    • Pablo C

      My GF uses Box VR for the same. It costed US$ 20 payed once, and it allows crossbuy for Rift and Quest. So this sounds like a rip off. Certainly your GF wins, but she could win the same for way less. It is the kind of rip off similar to when you pay way more to buy a Mac instead of a PC. You are paying for some stuff, no doubt, but they are mostly esthetic. The bottom line is that you are getting a machine with similar specs, but for way more money.

      • James Cobalt

        You can’t compare the two. Box VR doesn’t release 7 new levels + songs every week.

    • Hard Pass

      Spotted the shill account. $1 per sweaty workout – how about $0.001 per sweaty workout?? – that’s what Beat Saber is costing me now I’m 450hrs. That’s WIN on every level. Not wasting $19 a month is WIN

      Don’t be fooled by this “$1 is nothing” mentality… it’s still $228 a year for what amounts to a weak beat saber clone wrapped up in rehashed 360 video environments. Dont’ buy it or support it

      • James Cobalt

        My guess is 90% of the songs you workout to on Beat Saber you didn’t pay for.

      • CURTROCK

        You havent spotted anything except your own bias. Just because u disagree, doesnt make me a shill, so F U. People can decide what they want or dont want.

  • sebrk

    I cant find it. Is it US only?

  • mfx

    The only one to get fit for sure is your bank account…

    To the bunch of people at this company who believe they will become rich quick and easy because everyone is a stupid desperate consumer in looove with their app, you are wrong and you should do your app for 30 dollars once.

    You are ridiculous.

  • Rosko

    I pay £13 for zwift no chance i would find more money for this, it’s not really going to give you that much of a work out anyway.

  • 1Bigfoot1

    VR has all the potential in the world but so many bad games or with PS2 graphics . Basically you can ignore 95% of Steams VR library . All I play is sim racing games , truck simulator ATS and ETS2 , and sometimes Skyrim. There is nothing to play except few old games and Half life Alex. If not for sim racing my VR would collect dusts .

  • MW

    Greedy morons… Counting on fast buck from subscription instead of building mass popularity on vr? ON VR?!? DOA – and dig this grave faster dude!

  • DaveJahVoo

    I wouldn’t even pay $19 once for a beat saber clone when I already own and love Beat Saber let alone per month?

    I knew this game looked awful when the first I read about it a week or so ago claimed “Better songs than Beat Saber by artists you know”

    What a joke. I highly doubt Supernatural will ever have as much content in a month as Beat Saber.

    I’m gonna stick to my current workout of Thrill of The Fight and good old Beat Saber and not support devs/publishers/anyone who thinks I’m stupid enough to waste $19 a month on a weak clone of a game I paid $19 for in early access.

    • James Cobalt

      How many music tracks do you buy for Beat Saber each month?

  • AU

    It’s good, but no doubt it needs a new pricing structure. My suggestion:

    1. One time cost of $20 for 20 songs.
    2. Optional subscription paired with Spotify for $10 a month. I don’t know the current subscription limitations, but it’d also need to allow for two user profiles.

  • Very high quality review, Scott! And I agree, great app, but too expensive

  • SendsV8

    Yeah this is exactly what I need. A cringy nerd-game that can barely be called exercise, with nerdy music and the illusion of a personal trainer, that I get to buy again and again every month! Can’t wait to modest brag about my amazing step-count numbers with all my social media friends so they can tell me how awesome they actually don’t really think I am.

    When I get some baby bump biceps I might even consider joining antifa to start meting out justice, one thrown bottle at a time and then my life will finally have meaning!

  • SendsV8

    And I will add…

    The subscription model isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you are getting (at least perceived) value for that money. A bunch of 360 pictures doesn’t cut it.

    For $19/month you’d want some algorithm so you can use your own music, not cringy pop songs, and some REAL diagnostics and muscle group targeting, overseen by professional trainers to dial it in to a few specific body types. Something along that line. You should be able to state your specific goals (better overall cardio, specific muscle groups, etc.) and have the game adjust to influence moves that work towards that, with the trainer giving advice throughout. That might be worth a sub if it’s accurate enough to help accomplish those goals.

    Just throwing a bunch of 360 videos and consulting some local trainers (everybody and their middle-aged housewife that started crossfit last year consider themselves trainers so don’t be too impressed when that title gets thrown around).

    This might be worth it to some though if it gets you off your ass where nothing else will, or as a good transition to full-body exercise