by February 16, 2023 @ 11:30 am
Reviewed on Xbox Series X|S
Surprises are great, aren’t they? That’s exactly what Hi-Fi Rush is. The game stealth dropped on Xbox Series X and S, and it’s a great deal of fun. It’s developed by Tango Gameworks, the studio behind The Evil Within and Ghostwire: Tokyo, and published by Bethesda. It’s an offbeat game that at times feels like an indie production, and it’s just a really cool rhythm action experience.
Action Rhythm Up
In Hi-Fi Rush, which is also available on PC, you step into the slightly-clumsy-yet-still-rhythm-savvy shoes of wannabe rockstar Chai. After volunteering for cybernetic surgery to fix his hurt arm, Chai finds himself at the center of a corporate conspiracy revolving around mind control. It’s a fun little premise, and the storytelling and dialogue are lighthearted and often comical.
Hi-Fi Rush balances multiple genre elements quite brilliantly. Combat plays out like an action beat ‘em up, and it works really well. You’ll smack cyborg baddies, performing combos and delivering devastating finishing blows. At the heart of this combat is a rhythm-based design that makes the flow of battles feel incredibly smooth and stylish.
The cool thing about Hi-Fi Rush is just how forgiving it is despite not being overly simplistic or easy. So if you don’t necessarily have the best rhythm, you’ll still do pretty good most of the time. Granted there are multiple difficulty settings that’ll require you to play a bit more steadily, but if you’re not the best at rhythm games, that doesn’t mean you won’t succeed here, because Hi-Fi Rush prides itself on giving you a fighting chance.
Both beat ‘em ups and rhythm games have one thing in common: Their success depends on the action feeling good. Well, the great news is that the beat ‘em up combat and the rhythm mechanics of Hi-Fi Rush work in tandem to create a tight-feeling experience that’s polished and highly entertaining.
When you’re not pummeling cybernetic baddies, you’ll be moving through cool environments. It’s not an exploratory game by any means, but running and jumping around the levels in Hi-Fi Rush is very satisfying and feels like a modern-day 3D platformer. You’ll grapple your way across lava-filled pitfalls and perform tricky jumps between moving platforms. It all works quite well, and these moments make for a nice break in the action after you’ve dealt with a few hordes of enemies.
Bosses are big, bad, and imposing, and they’ll require you to exploit their weak points. It definitely seems like some of the design elements of Hi-Fi Rush are rooted in old school 3D platformers, but the game does a good job of avoiding some of the nuisances of the genre and instead provides a mostly seamless experience.
Despite its often forgiving nature, Hi-Fi Rush does require that you keep in time with the beat depending on the situation. Certain enemies, for example, will attack in very specific beat patterns, so near-perfect timing is key in countering their attacks. This can be tricky, but if you keep your ears focused (and your eyes peeled as enemies give off visual cues, too), you’ll be able to perform the necessary button presses in time with the music.
Style and Substance
While it’s heavily dependent on style, Hi-Fi Rush is the complete package — the game looks, sounds, and plays great. Speaking of its presentation, the whole thing has this rad cartoon-meets-comic-book visual style that’s absolutely awesome. Character animations are smooth and level designs are excellent, too.
A lot of what you hear as you progress through levels in Hi-Fi Rush is original music, and this stuff is quite catchy. That said, there are some licensed tracks, too, which help create a more engaging rhythm experience. You’ll hear acts like Nine Inch Nails, The Prodigy, and The Black Keys. It’s pretty cool hearing these bands as you play to their beats.
Of course, your enjoyment will also vary depending on how much you like certain bands or songs. For example, I’m not exactly a big Black Keys fan, but I still thought it was kind of neat hearing the game open to their music.
At around 12 hours, Hi-Fi Rush will keep you busy for a while. It’s a fun game, and it’s really easy to get lost in its musically driven world. The combination of slick style, fun 3D platforming, and intense beat ‘em up action makes for a fun ride all the way through. You may or may not like some of the music, but ultimately, the game’s just a very well-made and highly polished action experience that’s definitely worthwhile.
Score: 8 out of 10
Follow this author on Twitter.