A Deeper Look Into: Hi-Fi Rush

This week’s Xbox Developer’s Direct was the first video game showcase of 2023, showing off upcoming titles like Redfall, Minecaft Legends, Forza Motorsport, additions to Elder Scrolls Online, and a stealth release of Tango Gameworks’ passion project: Hi-Fi Rush. Take a look at our full breakdown here. That last title is what has me personally excited, so let’s get into what this fast-paced action rhythm game that’s already garnering positive reviews on Steam is all about.

Guitars, Robots, & Musical Combos

From the legendary mind behind Resident Evil 4, Viewtiful Joe, and Vanquish, it’s not hard to see Shinji Mikami’s fingerprints all over this game; though obviously much less from his works in the horror genre. From the comic-style aesthetic to the fast-paced gameplay with electrifying combat, Mikami alongside game director John Johanas tout Hi-Fi Rush as a rhythm action game where “your moves and attacks help create a living soundtrack”, as also noted in the trailer description.

The trailer shows the main character, Chai (not to be confused with the delicious Indian tea), a wannabe rockstar pummelling through an array of cybernetic foes with an electric guitar, with a combo meter that ranks up (a la Devil May Cry) as you follow the beats of the soundtrack. The entire world reacts to the music, from platforms syncing to the drums making the need to time your jumps accordingly, to enemies launching critical strikes on a beat drop. It makes for a very satisfying viewing experience that makes me want to jump in right away.

Though Johanas mentions that players won’t be penalized for not following the rhythm of the music, you will get rewarded with attack bonuses if you land what the game calls a ‘beat hit,’ resulting in combo chains with unique high damage finishes that are performed with a rockstar-like flair. There are also moments in the trailer that show players having to solve simple rhythm-based puzzles throughout the world in addition to some of the aforementioned rhythm platforming.

Time will tell whether the combat is more than just hacking your way through enemies while trying to keep up with the beat, or if there will be more diversity in the way in which you approach encounters. Brief snippets of Chai taking combos to the air, darting around the field with what looks to be a grapple shot, and freezing time to unleash a rhythm-based final combo hit, all point to a varied playstyle, but we’ll have to wait and see. I couldn’t help but feel there was something Kingdom Heartsy with how the game looked during combat encounters. Maybe it’s just because the main character swinging around a big guitar as a sword looks a lot like Sora and his keyblade, but nevertheless, the game looks incredibly fun.

Already A Star

The game has only been out for a little over 24 hours as of writing, and we’re still awaiting reviews (be sure to check out our very own soon!), but if early Steam reviews are anything to go by, this game has kicked off 2023 with a solid bang.

User Kahlraxin says on Steam: “On rare occasion, a game can come out of nowhere and remind you that creativity is still alive in game development. This is one of those times. It doesn’t try too hard. It isn’t overly complex. It seems built just to be FUN! The art, the story, the humor… and of course the music. It all blends together to create something special.”

And user MajorWipeout continues the praise by writing: “I cannot overstate how much I adore this game. It has been a LONG time since I’ve been so immediately and so thoroughly enthralled by a game from the moment it started and held there all the way until the credits rolled. The visuals are vibrant, gorgeous and well-animated. The characters are all expressive and every animation has the expected punch and then some with all of the glorious exaggeration usually reserved for 2d.”

It seems Hi-Fi Rush is well on its way to becoming a classic within the industry, and a game that will surely continue to be talked about as the year goes on. Shinji Mikami hasn’t always had the most consistent track record, but when a game of his hits, it hits hard; and it looks like he and his team at Tango Gameworks have created a gem that’s going to bolster the need for an Xbox Gamepass subscription even more!

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