Whenever I say Hi-Fi Rush, there’s this nice click on the tongue that I get, making the title alone get stuck in my head like Kermie the long dog in the past weeks. This is pretty neat, as the gameplay itself and its style left a lasting impression for me that I haven’t gotten for a long time now. All of this condensed in cartoony fashion that feels like it came from my Saturday morning cartoons, delivering an impressive rhythm-based action game that got me in my groove back.
If you like idiotic heroes like Denji, then you’ll find our dude Chai likable, as he signs up for a project that will get him a new robotic arm called Project Armstrong. Yes, you read that right, that’s what they call it, and if you’re wondering why Chai wanted a new arm that is because he wants to be a rock star. If that’s what it all takes to be a rock star then you can sign me in, no matter how shady the contract is.
He did get his new arm, but unfortunately, somehow a music player has been fused in his chest. The company who offered him the operation deemed it a defect, thus deciding that Chai must be dismantled immediately. So, like what a sane person would do, Chai made a run for it. After all, you can’t be a real rock star if you don’t have a true rebel heart. So with his heart by beats, Chai swore to reveal the secrets and bring down the evil Corp to its knees along with his fellow rebels.
The premise itself sounds like a generic hero versus evil Corpo story, but the characters themselves don’t take it too seriously. Chai’s over-the-top expressions turn the situation into a humorous ride. The plot itself reminds me of No Straight Roads which coincidently is also a rhythm game with an over-the-top presentation. Although unlike NSR, Hi-Fi Rush leans more into humor that shows up on many occasions which makes it quite irking sometimes. Still, I’ll give it a pass considering how they presented the robot battles with colorful and loud spectacle.
Can you feel the Beat!?
As a musician quite literally by heart, Chai’s combat capabilities strongly stem in rhythm to the beat. Combining the whole gameplay into an action-rhythm game that blends well with its whole presentation, especially during the combat sequence. It is sprinkled with a few platforming and puzzle-solving during exploration that require some good beat to solve, but the platforming section requires a few tweaks to fix, with the camera angle that obscures the FOV (I just learned to live with it). After all, it is the age-old story of camera vs player all over again.
What I find unforgivable is Chai’s weird jump which causes me to fail a lot of times. I just hope that they will fix this in a patch but the current jump feels off. The fact that it looks like he’s faking his high jump only to fall short causing me some frustration.
But I can forgive these shortcomings because of the combat. If you like racking up combos and seeing that style meter go up like in games like Devil May Cry, you’ll have a blast with Hi-Fi Rush’s combat system as it involves high-flying combos that beat your enemies to a pulp.
Though the thing is, as a true rock star, you must follow the beat to beat up people and robots alike. Admittedly I suck at rhythm games, that’s why it took me a long time to time my attacks and get myself into the groove. But once you get the hang of the gameplay, you’ll be ready to turn robots into scrap metal; the added layer of the challenge of timing your attacks to the beat is a huge plus. There is also a parry system that again needs to be timed to the beat that is so satisfying to land as you block attacks with a solid sound cue to it.
One of the things that I find that could be improved in the combat system is that there is not much of a variety between heavy and light attacks. Also, some portions of the battle with a few enemy types tend to become repetitive making it quite a chore to deal with. Still, I cannot truly knock on it too much as the overall gameplay is rhythm-based by design and your true mastery of the Rhythm is where it all boils down, so better get to the beat rock star.
Gorgeous Eye Candy
I just can’t stress it more but Hi-Fi Rush’s presentation is just awesome, it might be just me but the colorful details of the world are just pure awesomeness. What makes it wonderful is its cartoony presentation complete with an explosive literal “BOOM” every time you beat an enemy. Turning the experience into a nice change of pace from my other gloomy games, so picking up a cartoony game like Hi-Fi Rush is a nice break from that seriousness.
The characters are also as colorful as the world they live in, though I can’t say the same about the villains though as they look like your generic corporate bad guys (design-wise at least). But if you like games like Borderlands, you’ll definitely love the whole crew too, making the whole trip worth it on repeat.
Plus, the replay value is worth considering as the things that you can unlock and the challenges that you can complete it encourages you to have tons of playthroughs to unlock. Not only does the replay value makes the package worth it, the soundtrack of this game is also specatcular. The guitar rift in every perfect score is already catchy, but the game’s soundtrack will make you banging your head to the rhythm.
Hi-Fi Rush came as a surprise when it got announced and it did surprise us as a unique and fun rhythm game. With a colorful cartoony design, a wonderful soundtrack including familiar songs, loveable characters, and challenging gameplay, Hi-Fi Rush is highly recommended.
It could have been perfect, but it has its some shortcomings, especially the repetitive minigames, a rather cliche humor, and a lack of variety in some combat aspects. Though that’s all forgivable considering how impressive the overall experience it delivered.