“Hi-Fi Rush”: An early contender for Game of the Year


Courtesy of Bethesda Softworks LLC

Hi-Fi Rush’s art style, over-the-top combos and comic-book-like vibe make for a visually pleasing and satisfying experience.

Stephen Howe, Reporter

Xbox Game Studios released a rocking new rhythm combat platforming game, called “Hi-Fi Rush,” on Jan. 25. Tango Gameworks, the studio behind hits like “The Evil Within” and “Ghostwire: Tokyo,” developed it.

Unlike “The Evil Within” and “Ghostwire: Tokyo,” which are very dark and moody games, “Hi-Fi Rush” is a fast-paced, upbeat (pun intended) ride that feels reminiscent of PS2-era 3D platformers such as “Ratchet & Clank” combined with rhythm mechanics. What’s unique about this game is that there are no negative consequences for moving and attacking off-beat. The game still incentivizes and encourages acting on-beat by making attacks hit harder, have slightly longer range and flow into combos better than if they were off-beat.

The game’s art style is stunning. Vibrant colors pop out of the screen, and the art style looks like an American Saturday-morning cartoon. In the game, you play as a wannabe rockstar named Chai who volunteers for cybernetic enhancements. When his iPod-esque MP3 player accidentally becomes part of the implants, he gains music powers. This causes him to get branded as a “defect” by the corporation behind the cybernetics, and he spends the rest of the game running from them and fighting back alongside a cast of colorful characters.

“Hi-Fi Rush’s” level design is vibrant and fun. Everything in the world, from rocks to the lights and enemy movements, are in sync to the beat of the level’s soundtrack for the player to use as reference. If that’s not convenient enough, there’s also a dedicated toggle for bringing up a beatmap on-screen for constant reference.

The music selection is fantastic. Boss battles are treated with licensed rock music from artists such as Nine Inch Nails and The Black Keys, and all of their attacks hit on beat. To help avoid possible YouTube copyright strikes, the game includes a streamer mode that replaces all of the licensed songs with similar, original tracks by the artist The Glass Pyramids.

Combat is fluid and intuitive, and oozes style. The flashy combos and over-the-top action sequences are reminiscent of “Bayonetta” and “Devil May Cry.” Vibrant colors and stylish effects explode out of your weapon as you whack enemies with a guitar made of junk metal. As the game progresses, players unlock more abilities that make the combat more fluid, satisfying and dynamic. As you unlock new attacks and abilities, you will encounter new enemies with quirks and moves that your new abilities are designed to counter. I never felt like any enemy was out of place or annoying.

“Hi-Fi Rush” is a fun, charming homage to classic 3D platformers. It has a great soundtrack and a dynamic combat system. It’s definitely an early contender for game of the year.