Hi-Fi Rush is a slick rhythm action game that's bursting with colour, guitar riffs, and a pulsating soundtrack that syncs with your attacks to create a delightful audiovisual experience. The animation is excellent, with cool, manga-inspired sequences. But the music is the star here, and you're the music-maker.
- Rhythm action game
- Included with Xbox Game Pass/PC Game Pass
- Features licensed tracks from Nine Inch Nails and The Black Keys
Don't be intimidated by its billing as a rhythm action game, Hi-Fi Rush is more Ratchet & Clank than Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory. Getting your hits aligned to the beat of the game enhances the attacks and abilities from the protagonist, a wannabe rockstar named Chai fighting against a megacorp. His music player is fused to his chest in a funny origin story at the start of the game, which explains how he can feel the beat. But there's no penalty if you miss the beat. In fact, I usually get a C grade for the timing of my hits. You can also adjust the difficulty level — Easy, for example, is forgiving when it comes to the timing. That being said, there are certain rhythm sections in fights, and puzzles where you have to get your timing down pat before you can proceed.
You have light and heavy attacks, which you can chain into combo moves that increase your Reverb gauge. Once this gauge is full, you can execute special attacks. And there are so many combos that you're bound to trigger one even if you're just mashing the buttons. New combos and special attacks are purchased using the in-game loot. You can jump, dodge, use a grappling hook to close the distance (and some basic traversal), and there's also a parry/counter mechanism. As you progress, you unlock more upgrades, and gain companions that jump in — at your behest — to help for a short while. They have useful abilities, such as a ranged projectile attack that stuns the enemy. In addition, there's some platforming, and puzzles (often rhythm-based) to change up the gameplay.
Developer Tango Gameworks, known for horror titles like The Evil Within and Ghostwire: Tokyo, has hit a home run here. Hi-Fi Rush looks and sounds great. Everything follows the beat — the game environment, like the rocks and trees, is jiving to the great soundtrack, which includes several tracks from well-known bands. The visuals pop, while the gameplay is entertaining, and never boring. I also like its light-hearted, silly humour. The game oozes style, especially with its cool comic-book/manga-inspired sequences. Boss fights are visually stunning, ups the tempo, and changes up the gameplay somewhat, albeit still heavily rhythm-based. If I have one complaint, it's that you're mostly fighting robots in indoor environments.
I played Hi-Fi Rush on an Xbox Series S. The game is included with a Game Pass subscription (Xbox or PC, S$1 for the first month). If you do get Game Pass, don't forget to also check out these five indie games. Alternatively, you can buy Hi-Fi Rush from digital game stores such as Steam and Epic Games Store for S$39.
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