Hi-Fi Rush Shreds All Expectations (Spoiler Free Review)

Player character Chai (left) and robot cat companion 808 during an in-game cutscene.

Player character Chai (left) and robot cat companion 808 during an in-game cutscene.

Hi-Fi Rush is the newest game from developer Tango Gameworks, that’s a blast from start to finish with engaging gameplay, a great soundtrack, and likable main cast.  

Known for their previous work on the Evil Within franchise and Ghostwire: Tokyo this is the biggest departure from what the studio is known for. Released on Jan. 25 with no prior marketing, Hi-Fi Rush has reached the top ten on Steam’s top sellers list in only its first week. And after putting over 20 hours in the game myself, I can see why. 

Just Enjoy the Ride

Introduction of a enemy variant faced later in the main story

One thing to keep in mind when starting is that the story doesn’t take itself too seriously and the player shouldn’t either. The characters constantly joke about mechanics and set pieces not making logical sense. The story acts as a framework for epic set pieces and unique characters.  There are clear inspirations for each boss from anime, television wrestling and eastern/western pop culture. But where the story may leave something to be desired, the real headliner is about to take the stage. 

Toe-Tapping Combat

Hi-Fi Rush’s combat is a love letter to games like Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, and Ninja Gaiden that encourages stringing long combos, not stopping for a second. Along with rhythm games that focus on accurate timing of every input. 

Every battle had me moving to the music and wanting each fight to last a little longer. Everything goes to the beat of the music in this world and that includes both the player and enemies. Attacking to the beat of the music means the more damage you do, the higher your combat ranking goes. Attacks aren’t the only thing rewarded for being on time with the music dashing, jumping, parrying all get bonus’ when done at just the right moment. But those who can’t always keep the beat can still take the stage. 

Anyone Can Be A Rockstar

Inbtween some enemy waves a small animation plays showing the personality of Chai and 808

Developer Tango Gameworks doesn’t want anyone left out of the party. There are many options and settings aimed at allowing anyone to pick up and play. From difficulty selection, color blind settings, and rhythm visualization options. That isn’t all either, there are clear visual indications from both the UI and enemies to help guide the player. There is also a NPC all around the game aimed at allowing players to test new mechanics right after they get introduced without always going to a tutorial room.

A Good Beat To Have On Repeat

Even after the story there are still unlockable costumes, a timed fight arena, and hidden secrets in all the levels.These additions not often seen in single player games gives much needed replayability to the end game. 

But the game isn’t perfect. I did experience a few bugs with one even dropping me out of the map with no way to get back. Also there is no target lock so focusing on a certain enemy in a group or keeping track of constantly moving bosses is a constant fight with the AI or camera. 

Despite these issues Hi-Fi Rush is a much needed breath of fresh air to start off 2023. I highly recommend this game to anyone who can afford the $30 price tag or has access to Xbox Game Pass.