Ever been to a gig the place the help act blew you away greater than the band you paid to see? You get the identical feeling enjoying Hello-Fi Rush. Dropping from out of nowhere, this vibrant and cartoony rhythm actioner couldn’t be extra completely different from developer Tango Gameworks’ earlier video games. It swaps the nightmarish survival horror of The Evil Within and spooky open world of Ghostwire: Tokyo for the unabashed creativity of a Dreamcast or PS2-era title, with a rocking licensed soundtrack to match.
That is the primary sport of 2023 from Microsoft’s military of first social gathering studios, with the likes of Minecraft Legends, Redfall, and Forza Motorsport to observe. However whereas these blockbusters have been teased for a 12 months or longer, Hello-Fi Rush is out now and wastes no time in making you fall for its assured and unapologetically no-nonsense gameplay.
Is it an indication that final 12 months’s drought of Xbox Sport Go exclusives is lastly over?
Getting right down to the beat
Toon-shaded visuals this vibrant haven’t been seen on Xbox for the reason that sorely under-appreciated Sunset Overdrive nearly a decade in the past. However whereas that was open-world, Hello-Fi Rush is a level-based motion platformer set throughout a company campus belonging to a nefarious tech firm.
You play as wannabe rockstar Chai, who goes for an experimental operation to enhance his arm solely to unintentionally get his music participant fused to his coronary heart. However whereas this will get him labelled as a ‘defect’, it provides you the flexibility to sense the rhythm round you. Your new augmented arm may also rework right into a guitar made out of scrap metallic, which is ideal for whacking enemies into subsequent week.
Satan Could Cry or Bayonetta followers will really feel proper at house taking down enemies in enclosed arenas, which often culminate in a giant boss battle, together with your efficiency in every section given a grade. Right here although, it’s additionally about touchdown these hits in keeping with the beat, nearly like rhythm-based shooter Metal: Hellsinger.
Assaults nonetheless hit you probably have horrible timing, nevertheless it gained’t be lengthy earlier than you get into the stream. The sport subconsciously helps you, with Chai’s dodges sounding like hi-hats and elements of the surroundings animating to the beat. Higher but is the eclectic soundtrack, that includes the likes of 9 Inch Nails, The Prodigy, and The Pleasure Formidable, with every music completely positioned to the set piece in query.
Feeling the push
Removed from a one-hit surprise, Hello-Fi Rush builds on its rhythm in every single place else. Allies will be summoned into fight to assist take down enemy shields, or get previous blocked paths by utilizing their distinctive expertise in a rhythm mini-game. Fight equally evolves past bashing to the beat when parrying additionally comes into play.
Thankfully it’s not practically as intimidating because the hardcore deflections demanded of you in any variety of Soulslikes, merely including one other button on high of your current mild and heavy assaults. The display screen can get hectic in later phases the place you’re surrounded and might’t inform the place assaults are coming from, however you may nonetheless spot the visible and audio cues to parry on the next beat, even when you’re mid-combo.
Later enemies throw out lethal combos that should be parried by memorising the sequence and timing, similar to Dreamcast traditional House Channel 5. Once more, it’s not as unforgiving because it seems, however get it proper and also you’re rewarded with explosive finishers that make you are feeling like a rhythm ninja.
Maybe the one space that doesn’t excel in fairly the identical manner is the platforming. It’s not with out cool moments, as you employ your arm to grapple between ledges, however these sections really feel padded out as an excuse to offer you issues to gather or to ship extra story dialogue.
Again for the Encore
There are skills and enhancements to unlock between chapters, efficiency gradings all through every degree, and loads of collectibles and secrets and techniques to search out, however some paths are intentionally locked away in your first playthrough. Tango Gameworks as an alternative confidently runs you thru its setlist, earlier than welcoming you again for the encore. After the credit have rolled, you’re given the choice to return to every chapter, which then throw in new challenges.
It appears like a sport structured to respect your time, whereas assured (like every good album) you’ll simply stick it on repeat when you’ve completed it. Bonus tracks embody a tower mode, which pits you towards wave after wave of enemies to check your rhythm fight expertise to the restrict.
Even in case you solely give Hello-Fi Rush a spin as soon as, it’s nonetheless a sport that’s filled with character and magnificence that’s all killer no filler.
Hello-Fi Rush verdict
As a no-nonsense, single-player motion sport channeling cult Dreamcast and PS2-era titles, Hello-Fi Rush is a assured departure from Tango Gameworks’ earlier efforts. The studio has nailed the nostalgic vibe, and by the point you’re laying beatdowns on the beat you’ll have been sucked into its goofy attraction.
For anybody anticipating one thing larger to showcase this Xbox technology’s full energy, it would really feel extra novelty help act than correct headliner – however these gained’t arrive till later within the 12 months. This is a perfect Sport Go title to fill the void – few motion video games will go away as large a smile in your face as this.