We can rank Hifi Rush as the first big surprise of 2023. It was revealed at the Xbox and Bethesda event in January and became available on the same day. The energetic trailer, soundtrack, rhythmic gameplay and visuals made waves and I don’t think there was anyone who didn’t immediately want to try this surprise game.
Hifi Rush oozes fun. One only has to look at the cartoonish touches and vibrant colors to know that. The rhythm game concept, where you have to attack the soundtrack, reinforces this feeling. Everything around us vibrates to the sound of the music, from the elements that beautify the scenery to the animation of the protagonist, who even when standing still is always tapping his foot and snapping his fingers.
The energy is so great that you even feel like getting off the sofa and start dancing. It’s contagious. It’s incredible that this title comes from Tango Gameworks, a studio whose games until now have leaned towards the dark and horror side. But it’s a good time to remember that Shinji Mikami, the executive producer of Hifi Rush, already revealed a passion for less serious games with Shadows of the Damned.
What is HiFi Rush?
There are many notable influences. It’s like Sunset Overdrive, Devil May Cry and Metal Hellsinger triple and from there came the Hi-Fi Rush (if that were possible). The main character, Chai, undergoes an accidental operation at a Vandelay Industries factory that puts not only a mechanical arm, but also a music player in the place of her heart.
Dubbed a “flaw” after this operation, Chai tries to escape elimination by Vandelay. Before long, he finds himself embroiled in a conflict between the company and Peppermint, one of the companions on this adventure who lends us his adorable robotic cat, 808. The narrative is silly and doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is perfect for this style of play.
The first level is a glorified tutorial. HiFi Rush then turns into a “Kill Bill” in which you have to defeat Vandelay leaders (each crazier than the last). The levels are a mix of battle segments, platforming and QTEs. While the first few hours are fun, the filler levels (what’s in the middle) become tiresome and monotonous.
The problem with some levels is that they are too long and repetitive. The game repeats the same design, becomes predictable and has some points of frustration. I completely lost the will to play after an hour. In the last part, namely the last three levels, Hifi Rush redeems itself and offers a well-paced experience, without dull moments, and overflowing with eccentricity. The game takes time to peak.
Mint is your first adventure companion and you have the ability to instantly summon her into battle (there is a short cooldown). Further ahead, there are other characters who will join you and who can also help you in battle. With the pieces of equipment you collect, you can buy new combos, attacks, and tokens that benefit you in many ways, such as recovering more health with items, reducing the cooldown of teammates, and more.
Only more than halfway through the game does the combat reach its full form. It can be very chaotic, due to the number of enemies around you. Normally it wouldn’t be, but Hi-Fi Rush’s rhythmic identity makes the matches extra challenging. And what makes matters worse are enemies with shields, requiring you to summon your companions more than once before dealing damage. For a rhythm game, the truth is that Hi-Fi Rush is unevenly paced.
ends on a high note
It took me about 10 hours to complete Hi-Fi Rush. I explored the levels with the utmost care, always looking for items that increase Chai’s health and electricity bar, necessary to activate the super attack. After the end, you unlock an even higher difficulty, called Rhythm Master, where it’s an instant Game Over if your rhythm drops below a D rating. The scores at the end of matches, and at the end of each level, are clearly a legacy of The Devil she can cry There’s also a challenge tower where you’ll face waves of increasingly difficult enemies.
HiFi Rush is a well-executed and refreshing concept. Mixing elements from other games, it plays a chord contagious. Trying to keep up while battling hordes of robots is a new kind of challenge even for its fans hack and slash who are already accustomed to these wanderings. In between, there are minor disappointments. Some levels are a bit long for gameplay variety and end up being repetitive. Then, the part where you have to dodge or block the bosses’ attacks at a previous pace can be frustrating.
But it makes up for it in other things. The characters are charismatic and humorous. The soundtrack, featuring official songs by Nine Inch Nails, The Black Keys and The Prodigy, is sensational. In the end, you’ll be left wanting to replay levels, explore what’s left behind (there are some doors you can only open after the game ends), and pace our combos. Hifi Rush is guaranteed fun.