Tango Gameworks had already proven they’re masters of crafting fine horror releases with Evil Within, Evil Within 2, and Ghostwire: Tokyo, but who would have thought they could absolutely nail stylish rhythm-based action too? Hi-Fi Rush came out of nowhere with its recent reveal and release at the Xbox Developer Direct, but has already left a mark as one of the console’s most exhilarating exclusive releases.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Hi-Fi Rush puts players in the role of Chai, a cool young dude who has one blatantly obvious goal in life: to become a rockstar. It’s a dream we’ve all had at one point, right? He figures that signing up to a shady scheme run by a tech corporation would help him out, but instead finds himself branded as ‘defective’ when he’s left with a cybernetic arm and a music-player fused to his heart. It’s up to Chai to evade the corporation’s attempt to get rid of him, and, with the help of a few new friends, put an end to their evil doings.
The storytelling of the game is quirky and fun throughout, with it never taking itself too seriously and packed full of comedic moments to keep a smile on players’ faces. The characters you encounter are all likable in their own little ways (even the villains), whilst having a feline-like robotic companion in Peppermint ticks the ‘affectionate sidekick’ box perfectly. It’s a very silly experience, but in the best way possible.
Before talking about the gameplay, I think it’s important to mention that Hi-Fi Rush is one of the best-looking games I have ever played. I know that might sound like hyperbole, but between the beautifully vibrant cel-shaded art style and comic book-like effects, the slick transitions between animated cutscenes and 3D action, and the sheer creativity found across the world design, I was constantly left in awe of the visuals. When I watched the reveal trailer, I found it hard to believe that everything that was being shown off would look so good in-game. But you know what? It really does. Whilst we’ve seen plenty of colourful adventures utilise a similar art style in the past, none have done so as effectively as Hi-Fi Rush. Add to that the smooth 60fps frame rate and players can expect to find themselves absolutely mesmerised by the game’s presentation.
“Hi-Fi Rush is one of the best-looking games I have ever played. I know that might sound like hyperbole, but between the beautifully vibrant cel-shaded art style, the slick transition between animated cutscenes and 3D action, and the sheer creativity found across the world, I was constantly left in awe of the visuals.”
The action of Hi-Fi Rush is rhythm-based, with Chai able to unload combos by mashing the attack button, but better rewarded when they’re done in tune with the beat of the music. Most of these beats are easy to follow, especially in the early hours of the game, but become more intricate as you progress, with a bigger emphasis placed on timing your combos carefully in order to dish out maximum damage. Now I’ll admit, I’ve never really been a big fan of action games incorporating rhythm-based features into their gameplay before, but it works SO well here. Whilst there is a little bit of a learning curve in place, it soon becomes second nature to follow the flow of the music when attacking – it helps that the catchy soundtrack is a joy to bash enemies along to, though the gameplay loop itself is intuitive and user-friendly. Peppermint provides a visual indicator to help you synchronise your attacks to the beat if you struggle a little too, but you know what? It’s fine if your attacks aren’t perfectly in rhythm; whilst you deal out more damage and score more points if you hit the beat perfectly, Hi-Fi Rush doesn’t actively punish players who don’t.
A neat parry system as well as duelling mechanics where you have to replicate the rhythm of opponent’s attacks help keep combat exciting, whilst the upgrade system gives Chai plenty of new abilities and tricks to utilise to ensure that it stays fresh. You can even call upon the help of allies to use their skills to overwhelm foes, showing that there’s plenty going on in combat at any given time. And sure, the game does have some moments where the action can feel a tiny bit repetitive, but the ever-changing environment that evolves with your actions as well as some exciting set pieces and boss battles ensure players will never tire of it during the roughly eight-hour runtime.
Outside of combat, there’s a bit of light platforming and puzzle-solving to be done, though there’s nothing on offer you wouldn’t have seen before. Nothing is ever bad at all and I still had fun exploring the world, but it instead felt a little predictable and doesn’t implement the rhythm-based elements of the world as intuitively as combat does. But hey, it does break up the action with a bit of extra variety and it also give players a chance to explore more of the beautifully crafted world, so it’s hard to complain too much.
Check out some screenshots down below:
I can’t end this review without mentioning the soundtrack, which is packed full of absolute bangers. There’s a mixture of original tunes and some licenced tracks from the likes of Nine Inch Nails, The Black Keys, and The Prodigy, with the blend of originality and familiarity perfectly nailing the exciting vibe that Hi-Fi Rush has going for it. I didn’t think I’d be smashing up baddies in colourful rhythm-based action whilst the likes of ‘1,000,000’ by Nine Inch Nails or ‘Invaders Must Die’ by The Prodigy played in the background in 2023, but you definitely won’t find me complaining.
Hi-Fi Rush Review
Hi-Fi Rush is an awesome rhythm-based adventure which looks stunning, feels great to play, and has some amazing music… what else could you want? Whilst I’ll admit that some of the explorative elements of the game didn’t hit the heights seen in the combat and world design, every other aspect of Hi-Fi Rush is just top notch. 2023 was already shaping up to be an exciting year for Xbox thanks to some upcoming high-profile releases, but it’s already started off with one hell of a bang with Hi-Fi Rush. I don’t know how they managed to keep the reveal (and the release) a secret, but Tango Gameworks Softworks have given Xbox fans a real treat with what is easily one of the console’s best exclusive releases.
Developer: Tango Softworks
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platform(s): Xbox Series X (Reviewed), Xbox Series S, PC