Brutally Honest Review

Hi-Fi Rush

Written by - Shmosess

Updated: June 20, 2023

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Posted: February 3, 2023


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We love surprises, especially new games that get dropped with no warning. So when Tango Gameworks busted down the doors with their new game during the Xbox showcase, you better believe we wanted a piece of the action.

Ok so look, rhythm-action games aren’t usually on my radar. But when the team announced a same-day release of the game I thought it looked too good to pass on.

Few games can capture my attention for a single and solid playthrough, but here I am, 12 hours later, here to tell you that this game is just incredible. If you came here just to know if it’s worth your time, well here it is, Hi-Fi Rush is absolutely worth your time, no question. I’ve been waiting for a game this fresh for a while.

THE SPECIAL SAUCE

I can’t begin without gushing over these aesthetics. I freakin loved the feeling of being in a cyberpunk comic book. From the panel mission briefings to the highly stylized combat splashes, this absolutely hooked me from top to bottom. The bold lines and vibrant colors push this style forward and just look incredible. Combining this with the great storytelling and genuinely incredible gameplay, it had me hooked for hours.

We start with our hero Chai, a rockstar hopeful who winds up being a test subject for an evil tech company. Being accidentally fused with a beat pumping music player, he’s been labeled as defective, and the company doesn’t want defective subjects around. He teams up with friends along the way to foil the company’s plans to dominate the marketplace.

Visually the game gave me some serious Borderlands and Fortnite vibes. Choosing this style for a rhythm-based game was just a smart move and one that marries the lighthearted nature of the playstyle nicely with the story telling and cheesy humor.  Each sequence is well thought out and presented in a super easy-to-follow way.

My initial fear was this game was going to just plaster combat over a music track and attempt some rhythm sequencing, but this game lives and breathes rhythm. Everything and I mean everything has rhythm coded to its core. The whole environment moves to the beat. From the pistons of decorative engines, the interactive platforms, plants, trashcans, you name it, it all just moves together.

The gameplay is industry leading and nothing like I’ve experienced before. I personally caught myself many times physically moving with the beat and that in extension began to influence how I played my character. Combat and movement throughout the level took on a whole new feeling that left me wanting to jump back in as soon as the level was over.

The gameplay is industry leading and nothing like I’ve experienced before

Now while the music isn’t anything to gush over, I think that’s part of the point. I never found myself stopping to listen to it, because it was just part of the whole experience, not to be isolated by itself. The additive combat musical notes just added to the feeling of me being a rock star in my own band. It was perfect. 

Now sprinkle in quality level design. Each level is different from the previous yet creates an additive experience that fuses mechanics together as you progress. Each level had me curious as to what surprises were in store. I was immersed in a vertical level one moment only to find myself thrown into a stunning side scroller the next. This design kept the flavor unique and changed up my expectations even within each level. Mix in features that require future unlocks to access, and you have a recipe for replayability that keeps the player coming back.

FIGHT TO THE BEAT

It took me a couple stages to just settle down and let the beat be my guide. The devs do an excellent job guiding you through the experience. I’ll admit the tutorials were a bit heavy at first, and the slow trickle of mechanics and enemy encounters had me wondering if things would pick up, but by stage 4 I found myself incredibly grateful that I had been spoon fed some super basic mechanics. By this time, you begin to really string things together and the levels begin to use all the skills learned thus far.

I’m not usually one to memorize combo lists in games, it’s just not something I love. But I caught myself paying extra attention to these details. Wanting to see how a certain combo would rhythmically play out in a sequence. HiFi-Rush drew out my willingness to dabble in systems I wouldn’t otherwise, and that is something the development team deserves a huge amount of kudos for.

HiFi-Rush drew out my willingness to dabble in systems I wouldn’t otherwise, and that is something the development team deserves a huge amount of kudos for.

You’ll be familiarized with the basic combo offerings as well as finishers sewn throughout the game. You can purchase additional moves or items with the ridiculous amount of gear currency scattered throughout all the levels and dropped by enemies. 

Once unlocked the combos are instantly usable, but you can only equip and use one finisher at a time, unless you purchase more finisher slots in the store. You can even refund the moves if you find you don’t like it or purchased it by accident, albeit at a small loss of currency. An awesome feature that allows you to experiment and doesn’t punish you for making a choice.

You’ll get some well-placed tutorials as well as a full-on training room to test everything in your kit. It’s a great quality of life feature and the team even implemented these in-level NPCs to help remind you of features as well as comically entice you to interact and test out your new skills. 

Its these subtle features scattered throughout the game that keeps you fully immersed while offering that additional comic relief dialog that’s just unexpected. I absolutely loved it and often found myself seeking out these non-gameplay affecting conversations just to see what cheeky lines they had to deliver.

I’m also happy to report the variety in NPCs was everywhere, and it was clear that a good amount of thought went in to each enemy type and their move sets. I didn’t feel anything was a reskin. Each encounter was somehow different than the last. In our modern gaming experience, this seems to be a rare occurrence, and it was so incredibly refreshing. The list ranges from your basic enemy with basic attack sequences to far advanced attack patterns and even abilities that enhance enemies around them. When combining enemy types, this ensured that no two encounters were identical and threw in just enough variety into the mix to keep the pace of combat fresh and exciting.

RELATABLE STORYTELLING

I’ll be honest, I was surprised that the team delivered a super fun and enjoyable plot. I didn’t expect to care about it at all, but as you build out your arsenal of friends and experiences, you get to know each character and their personal connection to each other. I actually got invested in their success or failure. I hate to admit it, but I even found myself personally relating to chai’s cheeky dad humor.

Now this isn’t a story for the ages by any means, but it absolutely hit the mark without leaving any glaring plot holes or lingering questions. Even down to introducing the hero by showing us a brief sequence of how Chai came to be known as the defect. It just made sense in the world they created. It was one big cohesive work of art that flowed together seamlessly.

CATCHY SYSTEMS

Let’s touch on the few yet polished systems the teams implemented here. Fortunately, it’s very simple and just really well done. As you progress, you’ll collect gear parts you can spend at the shop for new combos, finishing moves, items, and chips that allow you to enhance chai. 

Between each rhythmic stage you be returned to the hub to cash in at the shop, dialog with your team, view collectibles, and check up on your achievements. 

Scattered throughout each level are graffiti art and these data pads that add some cheeky and creative context to the environment. If you’re an achievement hunter, you’ll be happy to find a very rewarding system. As you focus down each challenge, you’ll bank these to later cash out on, granting you various rewards including filling out this splash art on the wall. A neat nod to visually represent your accomplishments and on par with the rest of the immersive style for the game.

All this to show, a game doesn’t need to go super deep to offer a fun and enjoyable experience. With plenty of combos and meaningful items to test out, you’ll never be short of new things to try as you rhythmically work your way through each environment.

CONCLUSION

Hi-Fi Rush just feels like such a breath of fresh air. There was no bad system, no battle pass, no padding, no microtransactions. It was a complete game from start to finish and has set a perfect example for what games should be coming out of the game.

I said it at the beginning and to bring it all home again, Hi-Fi Rush is absolutely worth your time. Do yourself a favor and pick it up for $30 on Xbox or PC.