Hallowed Be Thy Game: Hi-Fi Rush Is a New Take on the Music Rhythm Formula
(Editor’s note: Let’s face it — most metalheads are a buncha nerds. To that end, Hallowed Be Thy Game is a weekly feature here on MetalSucks where we’ll highlight some of the metal-as-fuck board/video/tabletop role playing games we’re playing or have played in the past.)
Music-rhythm games have gone through significant changes in recent years. Gone are the days of plastic instruments in favor of off-the-wall ideas featured in modern games like Fuser, Metal: Hellsinger, and even Trombone Champ.
One of the best examples is the recently released Hi-Fi Rush, a game from The Evil Within developer Tango Gameworks. The Japanese studio has taken a step back from its horror roots in favor of something completely new: a bright, upbeat music game with a stunning comic book aesthetic. But instead of simply matching notes to the rhythm of a song, Hi-Fi Rush is focused on fast-paced action gameplay, much like Devil May Cry.
The protagonist known as Chai can unleash a flurry of different attacks and combos, but there’s a catch: you deal more damage and gain additional benefits if you land your strikes in time with the music. This is where the familiar music rhythm gameplay comes into play, as your timing and precision are a driving force.
While it might seem like a lot to juggle at first, the game is intuitive enough to keep things manageable, eventually leading to some ridiculously satisfying moments. The first time you take down a massive robot with well-timed attacks makes for a true “holy shit” moment, because it just works — without feeling too easy. Hi-Fi Rush does a fantastic job of onboarding you, as well, slowly introducing various gameplay mechanics in a way that makes sense.
Surprisingly, you don’t need to unleash attacks in time with the music to make progress in Hi-Fi Rush. Enemies take damage regardless, but you’ll be at an advantage if your timing and precision are on point. The game has great visual cues that pulsate to help you keep up with the rhythm, serving as an anchor that keeps you grounded during battles. When combined with the satisfying way it feels to connect with an attack, this game offers some of the best action combat in years.
Much like other music rhythm games, Hi-Fi Rush also incorporates a scoring system based on your performance during battles. If you keep your combo going and use a variety of moves, your score and ranking will improve, giving you plenty of reasons to revisit stages later on.
Hi-Fi Rush features an energetic soundtrack that matches its gorgeous art style, preserving its fast pace, while setting the tone for the action. It offers licensed tracks from popular artists including Nine Inch Nails’ “1,000,000″ and “The Perfect Drug,” along with “Invaders Must Die” by The Prodigy. The game features a selection of original songs, too, which are, in some cases, just as explosive and bombastic as the licensed tracks.
In between the fights, you’ll spend plenty of time platforming, solving puzzles, and collecting items that enhance your performance during combat. This breaks up the flow of gameplay in a smart way that keeps things fresh. Exploring the world is fun from a mechanical perspective, but it’s also awe-inspiring, thanks to the game’s visuals. Everything tends to pop from the screen, resulting in one of the best-looking games in recent memory.
There really isn’t anything else like Hi-Fi Rush. Sure, it borrows from a slew of other familiar games, but it blends mechanics and genres in such a way that allows it to stand on its own.
Hi-Fi Rush is available on Xbox Series X|S and PC. It’s also part of the Xbox Game Pass lineup.