Hi-Fi Rush is an incredible blend of gorgeous art style, charming characters, spectacular combat and rock and roll music.
What you need to know
- What is it? A third-person rhythm action game.
- Reviewed on: PC (Ryzen 5 3600, RX 6800, 16 GB of RAM)
- Developer: Tango Gameworks
- Publisher: Bethesda / Xbox
- Release date: January 25, 2023
- Available on: PC, Xbox Series X|S and Game Pass.
During the Xbox Developer Direct, the Japanese studio Tango Gameworks known for the horror series The Evil Within have shadow dropped their new game called Hi-Fi Rush . It's a third-person rhythm action game, available now on Xbox Series X|S and PC via Game Pass.
So, is it any good? Well, I've played Hi-Fi Rush for around eight hours for this review and can without a shadow of a doubt confirm that Hi-Fi Rush is not only going to be one of the most popular titles on Game Pass, but it's also a strong Game of The Year contender. And yes, I know it's only January.
Hi-Fi rush is a perfect blend of everything I love about video games: stunning stylised visuals, charming and memorable characters, dynamic combat and fantastic boss battles. Hi-Fi Rush is a rock hit in every single aspect of video game fun.
Let's start with the main protagonist named Chai who is an upbeat wannabe rockstar that gets an iPod-like music device stuck to his heart in a corporate experiment that goes wrong. This mistake makes him hear the music all the time and feel the beat that is synced to pretty much everything in the stunningly detailed sci-fi world.
Soon after that, Chai meets a cute little cat named 808, which turns out to be a creation of Chai's first companion named Peppermint, a female IT master that knows of an AI program that the corporation is trying to use to control people. Chai agrees to help Peppermint to destroy the AI and that's where our adventure kicks off.
Chai, Peppermint and other characters you meet in Hi-Fi Rush are adorable mainly thanks to great character design and impeccable voice acting, which breaths in so much life to guys and girls of Hi-Fi Rush.
The game features a cast of rich and colourful characters that have strong personalities, which makes them so memorable and likeable. Even the corporate villains, who act as the game's bosses are a result of such a good visual design and even better voice acting that you'll fall in love with each of them. They are funny, cute and charismatic all the way to their core.
Since I've mentioned that Peppermint is your first companion in the game, I must note that Hi-Fi doesn't do traditional companions that follow you around all the time, instead, you can summon them in certain situations to help you get across to the next platform or location. You can also use charges to summon companions in combat for special attacks and combos. For example, Peppermint's unique ability allows her to break enemy shields much more quickly than Chai.
When it gets to combat in Hi-Fi Rush, like most rhythm-based games, it's all about that beat. You'll need to make sure that your attacks are synced with the beat which allows you to build flashy combos and deal more damage. It's as simple as that.
And that's the beauty of Hi-Fi Rush, it's so simple but so fun, proving that you don't need overly complex combat mechanics and one million combos to make your game feel great. Hi-Fi Rush just hits that sweet spot, making itself so attractive for gamers of all ages.
If you're usually not a fan of rhythm-based games or just suck at timings like me, worry not, Hi-Fi Rush will not punish you for this, instead, it will make you feel like you're actually right on the beat all the time.
Once you successfully combine a couple of attacks, you can unleash a combo finisher which is usually followed by stunning visual effects. Every attack also produces music, mainly guitar riffs so you'll also feel like you're adding to this wonderful rock track that plays in the background. It's a small but very smart feature that adds even more fun and energy to combat.
I've been particularly impressed by the boss battles. Hi-Fi Rush is one of the few games where every boss has unique attacks, movements and vulnerabilities. Boss battles are truly grand spectacles in Hi-Fi Rush, packed with non-stop action and fun. Bosses are properly balanced too so they don't feel too easy but not overly challenging either.
I've noticed that Hi-Fi Rush got only better as I've played more. Just when I thought I've seen everything in terms of features and mechanics, Hi-Fi Rush would throw something totally different and new my way, making the combat and platforming feel fresh right until the end.
Speaking about platforming, this is another aspect of Hi-Fi Rush that works really well. You won't find many puzzles or challenging obstacles here but the stuff that is in the game is more than enough to break the flow of going from one location to another.
VISUALS AND SOUND
In short, Hi-Fi Rush looks beautiful. It features heavily stylised, anime-like visuals that really pop right from the get-go. I loved pretty much everything about the game's look - from characters, bosses, levels, and visual effects. Everything seems on point and super polished, without any visual bugs or glitches.
I also have to mention the incredible animations which make everything feel and look smooth, especially during combos and special attacks in combat. The animations really bring the characters to life and I'd go as far as to say that Hi-Fi Rush is on par with much much bigger budget games when it comes to animation quality.
The cinematics are another visual aspect of Hi-Fi Rush that feels premium. Simply put, the cutscenes look like something out of a high-quality anime. Yes, that's how good the cinematography and composition are in Hi-Fi Rush. Wouldn't it be a great idea if we got a full-fledged animated TV series out of Hi-Fi Rush? Make it happen Xbox, you know it makes sense.
Given that I've played the game on PC, It's worth mentioning that the game runs flawlessly, without any frame-rate drops or crashes. It's well optimised too, so even those with weaker hardware will get to play it without any issues.
It might be a bit strange to talk about sound and music at the very end of this review, given that Hi-Fi Rush is a rhythm-action game and music is probably the most important thing in the game along with combat but blame AltChar's review format for that, not me.
Jokes aside, Hi-Fi Rush sounds as good as it looks and plays. The track selection is perfect with rock hit songs like Black Key's Lonely Boy and Nine Inch Nails' 1,000,000. The soundtrack also features other popular artists like The Prodigy, The Joy Formidable and of course, songs from Tango Gameworks' producers.
This makes Hi-Fi Rush a carefully curated mixtape of songs that fit perfectly into this stunning world. Whether it's a tense boss fight or a simple beatdown of a group of robots, you'll notice how music elevates the action and somehow makes Hi-Fi Rush's combat even more fun.
Hi-Fi Rush has pretty much everything that makes video games fun and even more importantly it's not trying to be overly precise and challenging like many other rhythm-based games. It's a complete package that hits the right notes over and over again, proving that big publishers should just let developers create games they really want to create.
On the other hand, it's never easy to be the first Xbox first-party release following such a poor year, but Hi-Fi Rush and Tango Gameworks saw this as their chance to shine. And boy, did they deliver a true Game Pass gem. Now please pardon me, I have a game to play.