Just beat it!

The sleeper-hit of 2023. The game that literally had the entire internet talking (for about two weeks, which is the maximum attention span) with zero marketing from the studio that gave us Evil Within and Ghostwire: Tokyo. The videogame that made the undersigned feel for the first time like a "grandpa who can't keep up with the new hot stuff", struck by rheumatism and a complete loss of rhythm perception. Ladies and gentlemen, Hi-Fi RUSH is the best rhythm game that will drag you into unconscious headbanging throughout its duration!

Hi-Fi Rush - Chai is looking at a robot detective
The cold doesn't help my rheumatism. Grab me two.

We play Chai, a young man full of illusions about his abilities and a unique dream: to become a rockstar! Of course, all greats have to start somewhere and the first step in our great journey comes from Vandelay which, apart from being a reference to Seinfeld, is the most innovative robotics company in the game's world. After a minor mishap on the production line, instead of becoming the sanitation associate manager (i.e. janitor), we find that the whole world is tuned to the beat of our... iPod embedded in our chest! From there on it's an escalating battle against the entire Vandelay management who want to wipe us out as a production defect. Along the way we meet many robotic adversaries, several allies, and a lot of music!

Hi-Fi Rush - Chai is looking at a screen with all the Vandelay bosses
Five of the main department managers with whom we will be invited to... discuss.

The truth is that the 14-15 hours it takes to complete the game (on Hard difficulty level, because your truly has a self-punishing fetish) is filled with music, rich visual effects despite the cartoonish visuals and large doses of humor. Hi-Fi RUSH excels in the latter area by using various techniques to show that it doesn't take itself too seriously. Firstly, Chai is a narrative vehicle showcasing any young person who feels they can excel through sheer force of will alone. The way his ignorance is presented is nothing new; on the contrary, the anime development of the character's plot (a genre from which Tango Gameworks has borrowed many elements for the game, after all) is fully in line with the game's aesthetic and serves as a counterbalance to the other, slightly more serious characters. Second, the entire game functions as a scathing commentary on extreme corporatism and its pathologies. For example, throughout the game, completionists will be looking for the little tablets where the intercom between Vandelay's management executives exists. These include poor resource management in R&D, a glut of money in marketing while other departments are struggling financially, conspiracy theories and no shortage of stabs behind the back.

Hi-Fi Rush - We look at an example of intercommunication tablet
Anyone who has not received a corresponding mental health training course from their company's HR department should take Corrective Actions!

However, what gives Hi-Fi RUSH its quality is that at its core it remains a rhythm game. I admit that in the beginning it was hard to grasp the basics of the gameplay and how the combat works, but as time went on I got better and better. A big part of this, was how the game scales its action and how it gradually teaches the player the new elements we can use in our arsenal. In summary, Hi-Fi RUSH moves to a universal rhythm: everything falls under it, us and our moves, enemies, etc. The whole environment gives clues when the "beat" drops. But the genius element in its design remains that everything is synchronized to the beat while the game does not punish us if we get out of rhythm. For example, if we command an attack even if it is not "on" the beat, the attack will necessarily be executed on it. This gives opportunity to coordinate later, since every attack "lands" on the rhythm. Every coordinated combo gives us more points and slightly more damage, but it doesn't punish us if we are uncoordinated (which happened a few times in my case).

Hi-Fi Rush - Chai is running in 2D-style platforming
One of the most enjoyable parts are the 2D-style platforming parts that break the... rhythm of the game (hoho).

Hi-Fi RUSH incorporates all the action beat-em-up platitudes without being tiresome, given its short duration. The levels alternate internally between a few battle arenas where we face robotic enemies, exploration and 3D (occasionally 2D) platforming and SUPER FUN sequences where we just headbang, bang QTE to the beat and get a kick out of living the rockstar dream by taking out robots. Combos of light and heavy attacks, ultra attacks, aerial attacks, even combining moves with allies, all this embedded in without overwhelming the player since they are all introduced in sections and taught with a very... clever hint system (i.e., masochistic robots). The battles are suitably challenging with the enemies alternating to require the corresponding attention and our arsenal with the latter being quite customizable with the addition of various upgrades. The latter can be done either at specific points in each level (which is usually a bit one-way) or in our hideout which for the crafty/advanced players can be a source of memes in itself due to the game's plot and some of the dialogue involved.

Hi-Fi Rush - The heroes are shown to slide down towards a volcano.
This isn't even the third best sequence in the game. Just saying...

In addition to the technical achievement and the excellent gameplay design, the game excels in the audiovisual field. The whole feeling of awesomeness comes out well but is also harmoniously combined by the music that takes the leading role (it wouldn't be a proper rhythm game after all). Tango Gameworks managed to secure rights from various bands (e.g. Nine Inch Nails) to marry their songs with sequences of the game. The cartoonish (borderline anime) style of visualization results in a visual orgasm where every element on the screen seems to have a life of its own. However, this exuberance isn't distracting, nor does it prevent the player from discerning their next objective or hidden secrets (watch out for the murals and arrow-pointers!), a testament to how well-designed the UI is at its core.

Hi-Fi Rush - The Chip Upgrade system is shown in the image
It goes without saying that the upgrades will be electronic chips in guitar pick form.

In conclusion, Hi-Fi RUSH offers 12-14 hours of satisfying hours of music, action and plenty of laughs (Chai speaks to my heart as a fellow bad-pun aficionado that no one appreciates because they shouldn't). Completists will be looking at several more hours, depending on how good they are in Ironman mode and of course in achieving the coveted S-rating on each level. It popped out of nowhere as a complete package that puts the glasses on other releases which usually come unfinished! Available on Gamepass and of course on all digital distribution platforms, get into the swing of things and you won't miss out!

Go to discussion...

Need for a bad pun?

RATING - 92%


Feel the beat!

Rhythm, beat, robots. What more can we ask for?

Παύλος Γεράνιος

A native of Hyperborea, Pavlos has long since experienced interaction with the screen. The first games he remembers playing were Gran Prix, Test Drive, Digger and Flight for DOS at a time when most people now had Windows... This didn't deter him and he loved the Mother Platform from the very first moment. He also dabbled in the barren fringe of consoles (always at friends' houses, never his own), but it was the PC that kept him going. A lover of quality titles from all genres, he believes how the story and what the game as a medium wants to say is the main thing, not the label. There are always the exceptions of course...

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