Hi-Fi RushXbox Series X/S, PC ¦ shooter
Rhythm - they say you’ve either got it or not. It’s always a sad day when you finally admit that you’re in that percentage that doesn’t. Still, it doesn’t stop you from making a tit of yourself in various social occasions.
One place where you can get away with it is in the privacy of your own home, with gaming. There have been a number of games, as well as peripherals from dance mats to guitars to a DJ record deck, that have no doubt lured a number of us in to thinking, you know what, maybe i really do have rhythm. Of course, five minutes in, and its clearly not the case, but as you’ve bought all the ridiculous gear now, you may as well jam out as if no one is watching. Which hopefully for your sake, they’re not.
Here though, is a rhythm game, with no peripheral required, where you get to wield a guitar and perform well or badly, and still get the job done.
You play as Chai, a young man with a disabled arm, who signs up to a technology company in a test program for a cybernetic limb replacement. But after some devious antics by the compnay’s CEO, Chai finds his music player gets embedded into his chest.
This allows Chai to feel the beat in all his surroundings, and that his new tech appendage can take the form of a guitar and be used as a gnarly weapon.
As he attempts to make his way out, he encounters a cute cat 808, who quickly becomes his companion, as he uncovers some dastardly plans afoot within the company, that Chai soon finds himself embroiled in, and decides to take a stand for the man and rock his way to the top.
Hi-Fi Rush is a surprise on many levels. Firstly there’s the manner it magically appeared on our radars, being announced by Microsoft then instantly arrive in a shadow drop, on Game Pass no less, thus taking both gamers and journos alike by surprise.
But this was to be surpassed with an even bigger surprise, in that the game is fantastic.
It is, in actual fact, an action AND rhythm game, where although a sense of rhythm is a bonus, it’s not essential.
Your character travels around the colourful HQ, where you are encouraged to explore to find all manner of collectibles. You will then find yourself getting into combat scenarios with all types of robots, that you will have to face with your musical prosthetic.
Now the idea is that many of your different attacks are synced to a rhythm, and if you follow the right sequence you’ll be rewarded with various blows on your foe. Although this is a fun idea in principle, we sadly stuck to the one combo that we knew and relied upon, for what is tantamount to button bashing. Sure it’s a fact that we’re not proud of, but hell, it’s just another to add to the growing list.
In fairness, the game gives a little too much in terms of combos, as there are an overwhelmingly amount you can upgrade to. The truth is, you really don’t need them – we didn’t – as there are just way too many combos to try and learn, and as we were doing fine with our basic attacks, we didn’t see the need to bother. Yes, it’s great to have the choice, but by implementing too many, all with their various button combos, it all gets a little convoluted real quick.
Something we couldn’t avoid however, and so wish we could have – was the introduction of a certain move – the parry. Now its a move we’re accustomed to, featuring as it does in a number of fighting games, and it hasn’t proven to be an issue. Until now.
Unfortunately there are some enemies that can be only defeated by parrying, which shouldn’t be a problem, but on more than one occasion had us nearly throwing in the towel and walking away from the game.
We found that hitting the parry button wasn’t very responsive. We thought that the Xbox controller itself was to blame; with its hard shelled buttons, hitting them repeatedly lacked the response we wanted. And in having to hit it again and again, we quickly had finger fatigue set in, where we couldn’t play on any longer. It was unpleasant to say the least, and extremely frustrating, but somehow, we muddled through.
And we wanted to, because the game’s world was a vibrant and entertaining one to be a part of. Visually it’s a thing of beauty to look at, with its cel-shading graphics reminiscent of the classic Dreamcast title Jet Set Radio.
It’ also implements a lot of ideas that do work; like occasionally slipping into a 2D mode, encouraging exploration, and the ability to have a helping hand with other characters joining in on fights. There are a number of fun characters and scenarios you come across along the way, with the factory littered with all manner of robots with a story to tell.
It was this ingenuity and originality that kept us going, despite our issues with the combat, that we concede won’t be an issue for everyone.
And although it was dropped on Game Pass, it is a title that is worth every penny that it’s currently going for on Steam.
As a single player experience, this surprise out of the blue was a hugely welcome one, especially how sporadic it is for decent games to turn up on Game Pass as it currently is.
Hi-Fi Rush is a truly entertaining title, that delivers something really fresh and fun, and despite hitting a few bum notes for us, but just as the Miami Sound Machine professed in 1987, the Rhythm is Gonna get You. And how.