Review: Let’s Sing ABBA – La Question C’est Voulez-Vous

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Let’s start with a question: Why are you here? Of all the many games launching in the latter third of 2022, this is perhaps the most dependably, dryly predictable in form and function: a Let’s Sing game featuring songs by Abba. Sure, you might be curious about the playlist or the various modes in this particular entry of the long-running karaoke series, but as video games go, this particular quantity is about as ‘known’ as they come.

Perhaps you’re here for the same reason we said ‘yes’ to review code: sometimes you just need something reliable and restorative. Times are tumultuous and the unexpected offer of a night in belting out some bangers with friends and family in a no-stakes, low-stress environment sounds like just what the doctor ordered. For hardened gamers, there’s no worrying about avoiding spoilers online or impaling yourself on a difficulty spike with Let’s Sing Abba; it’s as wonderfully low-maintenance and uplifting as you expect it to be.

Fire the game up and you’re greeted with several modes that will be instantly familiar to series regulars. ‘Legend’ has single players facing off against Abba-looking folk (not the band, you understand, just similar-looking avatars who function as karaoke opponents) in mini-challenges where you sing a snippet of a song, fulfill specific criteria for a three-star rating, and face off against a boss to unlock songs and avatar swag. This is where we spent most of our time, and a good time it was.

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Elsewhere, ‘Classic’ lets you jump into any song with up to four players, ‘Feat.’ has you duetting with a partner (AI ‘artist’ or a second player) to discover your compatibility depending on your pitch and timing, and ‘Mixtape’ is good if you don’t have the time or patience for entire songs — it churns out five quick-shot extracts for you to enjoy without needing to devote three minutes to a single song. ‘World Contest’ offers ranked online karaoke-offs with leaderboards, and ‘Let’s Party’ is a local team-based competitive challenge mode for up to eight players (which can also be played on your lonesome against AI). So far, so Let’s Sing. Every mode does exactly what it says on the tin.

Then there’s ‘Jukebox’, which just slaps the videos to the songs you’ve unlocked on screen with the lyrics — perfect background noise for reserved British parties where nobody wants to stand with a mic but they’ll happily stare at a screen with a drink in their hands while realising how few Abba lyrics they actually know.

Equipment-wise, any old USB mic should do the job, but the easiest way to get involved is to download the Let’s Sing Mic app and connect to your console by inputting a four-digit code when prompted after joining the same wifi network. Once we had hit ‘ZR’ to use the calibration tool, everything synced up nicely and we were away. Any Let’s Sing veteran will know that you don’t need to know the words, as the mics detect pitch only. You could merrily hum your way through and be just fine.

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Even lesser-known songs you aren’t familiar with don’t present as much of a problem as you might think. You’ll run into issues if you’re taking on the whole song, but for the Mixtape challenges we managed to blag most of them by doing that peculiar humming trick where you raise and lower your pitch to move the dot like a Pong paddle and totally ignore the song itself. Just us?

A token progression system is threaded throughout, and every mode has a percentage complete bar handily visible from the main screen. And if you’re not sure where to start, hitting ‘X’ spits out prompts suggesting songs and modes to tackle next — another example of developer Voxler cleverly sidestepping any anxiety whatsoever (in this case, that Netflix-style paralysis when faced with a whole bunch of adequate options).

Looking at the playlist, it’s tough to argue with the 31 songs on offer, and anyone who’s ever thrown Abba Gold on their listening device of choice will feel right at home. The classics are all here — Mamma Mia, SOS, Waterloo, Knowing Me Knowing You, Fernando, Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, Take A Chance On Me, et al. — along with 2021’s I Still Have Faith In You if you’re a fan of the new material, all accompanied by official videos featuring Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny, and Björn…hang on, that’s ‘AABB’. Hmm.

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Personal favourites include the hearteningly unproblematic Does Your Mother Know and the disco-tastic Voulez-Vous, which we maintain really should have been a Roger Moore-era Bond theme. Notable omissions include Lay All Your Love On Me and I Have A Dream, which we can only assume will be made available via DLC at some point. That they’re not present is a disappointment, especially if you’re not familiar with every single other track here, but the fact remains that you’d be hard-pressed to find a more likeable selection of songs from a single artist. A person who doesn’t like Abba is just someone who hasn’t yet realised they like Abba.

Even with the few track omissions and a couple of odd decisions (for example, no single Joy-Con support means you’re forced to use both to navigate the menus, which is a pain while also holding a mic/smartphone), it’s tough to come away from this dissatisfied. The results screens when you finish a song drag on a little too long and can’t be sped up with repeated button presses. Screenshots are disabled so you can’t grab shots of the group — all the images throughout this review are press shots. Thank You For The Music is pretty insipid. That’s pretty much the only gripes we had.

So, why are we here again? To relax, forget our troubles for a while, and belt out a bunch of classics — and Let’s Sing Abba facilitates that very well indeed. La vraie question c’est voulez-vous. We did.

Conclusion

As a group, Abba sits alongside only a handful of the world’s biggest acts — The Beatles, Queen, and perhaps only a couple of others — with the cross-generational, mainstream appeal to support a multiplayer music game like this. We’d wager even non-aficionados will be drawn in by the sheer strength of this most familiar and indestructible of pop music songbooks, and the variety of modes here, machine-tooled over many years of iteration and repetition for the long-running Let’s Sing series, offer enough variety to engage just about anyone who’s ever tapped their foot to any of these tracks, Developer Voxler took absolutely no chances here; Let’s Sing Abba is exactly what you think it is. And for that, we were thankful.

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