Are you a fan of rhythm-based gameplay? Are you a fan of rock music? Are you a fan of super stylish boss battles that are full of colour and mayhem? If you answered yes to any of those questions, No Straight Roads might be the game for you…
No Straight Roads puts you in the shoes of Mayday and Zeke, two rocking musicians who together form the band ‘Bunk Bed Junction’. With their focus on hitting riffs with a guitar and smashing beats on drums, they’re hoping to bring rock music back to the forefront in their home of Vinyl City. Unfortunately, the higher powers known as NSR have ensured that electronic dance music is the sound of the city, much to the dismay of Mayday and Zeke. What better way to change this than by taking down all electronic dance musicians and tackling NSR head on then, right?
At its core, No Straight Roads is a boss-battler that sees you tackling all sorts of eclectically colourful music acts in epic showdowns, with each bringing something different to the fray as you beat up their minions, evade their attacks, identify their weaknesses, and then strike them down – all to the rhythm of the banging beats that play around the battleground.
Combat itself is fairly straight-forward and should feel familiar to anyone who has played a third-person brawler before, with the player able to mash out both melee attacks and ranged attacks. You can switch between Mayday and Zeke on the fly with a quick button press, with each having their own sets of abilities that are better suited for the varying enemy types you battle against. They also have an energy meter that builds up to allow you to unleash a spectacular attack that can deal out plenty of hurt upon your foes. It’s all fun stuff, though there’s nothing too out of the ordinary that you wouldn’t have seen before as far as the basic combat mechanics are concerned.
However, No Straight Roads does spice things up a little by adding an emphasis to the music playing around you. Enemies actually attack to the beat of each tune, so if you stay on top of that and time your actions carefully, you’ll know the perfect moment to dodge out of the way of an attack or unleash one of your own. This is particularly useful when you’re fighting the minions of each boss, where they’ll often crowd around you in hefty numbers and try to overwhelm you with their attacks.
That’s not to say that the bosses aren’t tough too, with each providing a dazzling showdown that’ll take all of your skills to overcome. They each introduce different battle mechanics that fit their personality perfectly, force you into tricky platforming antics, and even have multiple phases with plenty of surprises to keep you on your toes. They’re all really fun to battle thanks to their over-the-top zaniness, whilst the variety offered with each different boss ensures there’s plenty of different things to see and do as you progress through No Straight Roads.
You won’t just battle through the bosses of the game in quick succession, but actually get to navigate through Vinyl City and explore all of its unique districts. Admittedly, these segments aren’t all that interesting, with basic platforming mechanics stringing them together along with a few NPCs to speak with and collectibles to collect – you shouldn’t expect to find any enemies in these areas nor any deep levels of exploration. The collectibles are pretty useful mind, with stickers allowing you to equip buffs to help you out when battling the bosses and energy vials allowing you to restore power across Vinyl City to earn more fans.
Having fans is pretty important, with them acting as a currency to unlock new upgrades and skills for Mayday and Zeke. These upgrades add a fair bit of variety to each character’s moveset, which makes the odds stack better for you in subsequent boss battles or if you replay a previous battle you’ve shared with a foe. You actually earn fans from beating bosses too, so players who want to unlock all of the abilities on offer will want to battle some bosses over and over again if they really want to beef the Bunk Bed Junction up…
Unfortunately, I just wasn’t that interested in replaying battles. Whilst I had a lot of fun playing through No Straight Roads, there wasn’t much incentive for me to earn all of the abilities by beating bosses over and over, even if there are additional modifiers and difficulty settings introduced to spice things up. The game only takes around five-hours to beat so the extra replayability may be appreciated by some, but it just felt like an unnecessary endeavour to me.
It didn’t help that the checkpoints in boss battles could be a bit annoying. Find yourself dying when you’re on the cusp of victory during a boss’ final phases? Too bad, you’ve got to start the battle from the beginning again. In fairness, they’re not too long so it isn’t overly frustrating, but it can make encounters feel a little repetitive when you are fighting the same bosses all over again just to earn more fans.
If I had to pick on one other thing about the game, it’d be that the platforming controls can be a little fiddly in places. Mashing out attacks and using your abilities is always fine, but leaping your way around whilst keeping up with the quick pace of the game could lead to some awkward moments where it was hard to keep track of what was going on and be precise with your actions. Fortunately, it’s a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, with No Straight Roads otherwise feeling like a joy to play. The visuals are vibrant and attractive throughout (bar the occasional pop-in here and there), whilst the frame rate is consistently smooth and keeps up with the frantic action of the battling.
I had a blast playing through No Straight Roads, with its electrifying boss-battling gameplay and slick presentation keeping me dazzled throughout. The over-the-top nature of battles ensures there’s plenty of excitement to be found throughout the game too, whilst the way that you can take advantage of following the beat of the music was cleverly implemented. It’s just a shame that the exploration elements aren’t quite as enjoyable, whilst I wasn’t all that interested in re-playing boss battles either – regardless of the extra additions brought in to spice them up.
Still, whilst it does have a couple of issues, there’s certainly a heck of a lot more good about No Straight Roads than bad, with it proving to be a consistently entertaining experience throughout. I had a whole lot of fun playing through the game and would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a stylish and action-packed brawling romp on their Nintendo Switch.
Publisher: Sold Out
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC