Button-mashing according to the beat
If you’ve been anywhere on the internet in the past few days, you may have already heard of hi-fi rush, an action-adventure game with a rhythmic twist developed by Tango Gameworks, the studio behind it The inner evil horror games and also Ghostwire: Tokyo.
Announced out of the blue at the Xbox Developer Direct show on January 26th, the game immediately went on sale for the PC and Xbox consoles, getting people talking almost as quickly.
Hi-Fi Rush attempt to bring something different to the action-adventure genre made popular by games like devil may cry from Capcom and Bayonetta from Platinum Games.
It introduces music and beats into this formula, allowing players to do more damage and have advanced movement if they time all their in-game actions according to the beat being played.
As an action-adventure snob, I’ve sunk a lot of playtime into games like Devil May Cry 5 (I unapologetically have over 100 hours of playtime, and S-rank most levels on the hardest difficulty).
I am also an accidental musician, where my main instrument is the drums, while I have guitar and bass guitar as a side.
A game that successfully combines these two elements of my life seemed too good to be true.
So I immediately bought the game on Steam, and prepared to find out what all the hype was about.
Table of Contents
A fun, campy story
No spoilers here, but the story is fun, campy, over-the-top fare.
It’s not the best storytelling, but it’s not the main focus of the game.
Hi-Fi Rush focuses on Chai, the main character of the game, who for some reason decides to get mechanical enhancements.
But the upgrade process goes a little awry as he gets the MP3 player integrated into the enhancements, giving him his rhythmic powers.
Overall, the characters in the game can sometimes be lovable, and sometimes a bit overbearing.
Some scenarios don’t make sense, but the game is completely self-aware of how absurd certain things are.
Oh, and there’s also a cute cat that you can pet.
Gameplay is great but can be easy mode if you are musically inclined
Here is where the game really shines.
While you are able to play as normal like a hack-and-slash game, the game encourages the player to time your actions according to the beat of the song being played.
Attacks do more damage and have special animations, while dodge and parry attacks on the beat have extra effects.
Yes, enemies also attack you according to the beat of the music. For some reason it really feels like playing a game that Guitar herojust in a different form.
Which brings up something – this game can be a little too easy for the musically inclined, even on the highest difficulty.
For reference, I completed the game on ‘Very Hard’ difficulty. I first started with ‘Hard’ but found it a bit too easy so switched after completing the first stage.
Since you can dodge and parry according to the beat, it’s easy to time both of these mechanics to escape enemy attacks unscathed.
As long as you know where an attack is coming from (and the game visually tells you this), all you have to do is avoid the attack. Since the dodge has invincible frames, you will be safe.
Sometimes enemies can throw off-beat attacks that surprise you, but once you’ve mastered the timing of these attacks, it becomes easily avoidable.
That said, I can see the game being extremely tough if you have no sense of rhythm.
While you can usually play the game as a typical hack-and-slash, you’re going to have a very difficult playthrough on anything above ‘Normal’ difficulty, as enemies dish out a lot more damage in ‘Hard’ and ‘Very Hard’ ‘ modes.
There is also the hardest difficulty, called ‘Rhythm Master’, which you can only unlock after completing the game once. I haven’t tried playing it yet, so it might be a challenge.
The game provides a training room where you can practice your combos and try to follow the beat, if you want to master the game mechanics.
You can upgrade your character like Dante and Bayonetta from their respective series by purchasing moves, upgrades, health bars and special moves. The game even has energy tanks much like Capcom’s Mega Man series.
Hi-Fi Rush apparently takes a lot of inspiration from Capcom games, which I’m guessing is highly likely because Tango Gameworks’ founder, Shinji Mikami, used to come from Capcom.
Conclusion: Something fresh with a good cartoon feel on Saturday morning
Hi-Fi Rush brings something fresh to the action-adventure scene.
If you’re a fan of the genre, it’s definitely worth your time to experience the amazing work Tango Gameworks put into this game.
Even if you are not musically inclined, I think the game has the right tools to allow the player to learn the mechanics of the game, and just like playing an instrument, practice is always the key to getting good.
If you’re only playing the game for the story, then be prepared for a fun and campy ride.
It has every single anime and cartoon trope thrown into the mix, making some parts extremely nonsensical, but still having a good Saturday morning cartoon feel.
Hi-Fi Rush is out now for purchase on Xbox Series X/S and PC.
If you’re an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, it’s included in your library of playable games.
Dominic loves technology and games. When he’s not busy water-cooling his computer parts, he does some pro wrestling.
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