Tango Gameworks is widely known for The Evil Within and Ghostwire: Tokyo, two games that are notorious for their dark themes and tense atmosphere. But when Hi-Fi Rush was revealed to the public, it took a surprise turn with a bright cartoon style, snappy rhythm-based gameplay, and a killer soundtrack.
Hi-Fi Rush goes against every single notion that people had of the developer, with the marketing even reflecting this. And I just couldn’t resist trying out the game after so many positive comments on social media about how this game was a silent hit and the truth is you really didn’t get disappointed!
▍ A Music Player…Embedded Into His Chest!?
Hi-Fi Rush has you play as Chai, a young man who signs up for Project Armstrong, which promises to give a person a robotic arm capable of doing many activities no normal human can usually do. However, due to a mishap in the surgery, he ends up with his music player embedded into his chest, which causes him to be capable of feeling the rhythm or beat, of the entire world.
The dialogue in this game is absolutely humorous and I absolutely adore it. Especially the robots around the facility. Hearing their snarky comments towards their workplace, not to mention the thousands of e-mail fragments scattered across the Vanderlay facility about how unsatisfied some of them are just really funny. LU-C1LLE’s dialogue in particular made me laugh on multiple occasions.
Another thing that surprised me is just how each stage has its own unique gimmick, and even once you’ve finished with the main story, a lot of extra content opens up, with some areas being only accessible because of certain partner abilities you only obtain after a certain period. This certainly added a lot of hours to my experience. The story can be cleared in only 10 hours, but with all the extra content that opens soon after, you’re probably going to get 20 or 25 hours easily out of the entire game.
▍Beat Up Enemies to the Rhythm!
Battles rely exclusively on the rhythm in Hi-Fi Rush. Combos are performed by using the X and Y buttons, you can also call upon your friends with the partner system by pressing RT. The partner system is also required to solve the platforming puzzles, and the timing on some of these can be very tricky, but whenever the game needs you to repeat a certain sequence, you can try again without much of a penalty.
Defeating enemies will earn you Gears, which are required to unlock new abilities for Chai or increase his Special Attack Gauge, allowing for more frequent special attacks, and what’s perhaps most important his Health Gauge. You can also find fragments of these upgrade items scattered across the facility. This sort of “collect all 5 fragments to get further health” kind of reminded me of The Legend of Zelda, I’m not gonna lie.
As you progress through the story, you’re constantly immersed by the soundtrack of Hi-Fi Rush with a lot of licensed tracks from widely known artists. However, there eists a mode known as Streamer Mode, which replaces the licensed soundtracks with original ones. Despite it being directed toward streamers to avoid copyright strikes, I personally liked the original songs a lot more than the licensed soundtracks, especially for bosses.
▍ Tons of Accessibility Features
Even if you’re not good at rhythm games or action, Hi-Fi Rush offers loads of accessibility options. For example, by pressing the SELECT/View button, you can enable a cue circle on the screen that will guide you to the beat, allowing you to understand when to press the button.
In addition, there are many other modes you can enable, such as context subtitles for important things on cutscenes, as well as color-blind modes. You can also enable Auto-Action from the menu (only on Normal and Easy difficulties), to easily do the combos will just the press of a button. However you choose to play, this game has you covered. I personally enjoy any kind of accessibility, especially since I have trouble understanding the right beat of the rhythm, and in this game, it’s sort of a must.
▍Beautiful Cel-Shaded Graphics
I can’t stress this enough but Hi-Fi Rush is absolutely beautiful. The cel-shaded graphics have this mix of anime and comic book styles. In fact, every mission will have a comic panel-style briefing by Peppermint.
Something that really surprised me as well as how smooth the transition between 3D-rendered cutscenes and the 2D-anime videos was. I seriously could not notice that the cutscenes had changed from 2D to 3D until I looked closer. Unfortunately, I can see this only being possible because of how the game takes advantage of the Xbox Series’s SSD, which may be a reason why the game is not on XBOX One.
▍ Is the Deluxe Edition Worth It?
Hi-Fi Rush’s base game costs US$29.99 (price varies depending on your region). But for an additional US$10,00, you can get a deluxe edition of the game that offers you loads of cosmetics and 20,000 Gears, the in-game currency required in order to purchase new skills and attacks for Chai and his party members.
Despite the 20,000 Gear gift looking pretty tempting, all that will do really is allow for a skill upgrade early on in the game, and the clothing pieces, well, they don’t give you any additional bonuses and are there mostly for cosmetic purposes.
Furthermore, it’s actually recommended to leave the default clothing on, because, remember when I said that the game constantly changes between 2D and 3D? Yeah, changing Chai’s clothes to something other than the default will totally break that illusion. So yeah, if you were on the fence about buying the Deluxe Edition, you’re better off with just the base game, unless, of course, the regional pricing makes it rather affordable in your region.
▍Hi-Fi Rush is a Blast of Music
Hi-Fi Rush was a welcome surprise from Bethesda and Tango Gameworks. It’s not only a well-executed game but also one that is available for more than half the price of your typical AAA title. Even though you can breeze through its story in less than 24 hours, the shockingly fun gameplay and stylish music definitely worth your time. Throughout my entire experience, I did not experience any crashes, with the only bug I encountered being an incorrect audio setting, but that was an easy fix.
Perhaps the only negative point, if you can even call it that, is that it can be a bit too short. But if you’re a fan of action games and rhythm games and would like to try out this mixture, then I really recommend it!
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Hi-Fi Rush Review – A Love Letter to the Action Rhythm Genre
Hi-Fi Rush is a beautiful action rhythm game that is available for a very affordable price. It just subverted every single one of your expectations, and it’s clear that time and love were put into it.
Operating System: Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Microsoft Windows
Application Category: Game