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Hi-Fi Rush is being review-bombed, and that’s a good thing

As soon as it was revealed Xbox would be shuttering Hi-Fi Rush developer Tango Gameworks, PC players leapt into action to let their voices be heard.

Hi-Fi Rush review bomb: a black cat with blue paws next to a boy with brown hair wearing red, orange, and yellow clothes

Hi-Fi Rush developer Tango Gameworks fell to the Xbox blade this week, sending ripples across the industry. Chai’s rhythm-based hack ‘n’ slash adventure was a real lightning-in-a-bottle moment for Microsoft’s gaming division, but even its numerous accolades and corporate box-checking couldn’t save its creator from being shuttered. Now, as a show of support for Tango, players are letting the gaming titan know that it’s made a terrible error by bombarding store pages with positive reviews.

Since the news broke that Tango would be one of three ZeniMax studios closed, with another being absorbed into the business elsewhere on May 7, several hundred new positive reviews have been posted to the Steam page of one of the best Xbox games (and now PS5 game). According to SteamDB, the game’s concurrent players have almost trebled over the past week.

It truly is a shame that it’s taken Tango’s demise to get more people playing Hi-Fi Rush – that’s just how publicity works, I guess. Echoing our 9/10 Hi-Fi Rush review, it is “a great little rock-and-roll game and one that deserves every ounce of praise it gets.” It’s also been a total breath of fresh air to see a smaller game like it resonate with fans and critics alike, considering how bland the triple-A space has increasingly gotten as corporate boffins continue to prioritize formulaic money-spinners over truly creative endeavors.

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It’s also perhaps partly due to how Hi-Fi Rush so boldly encapsulates the latter that Tango Gameworks has become a rallying point for people frustrated with how Xbox has handled its recent mega-money acquisitions.

Yesterday it was reported that Xbox Games Studio head Matt Booty had spoken of the need for “smaller games that give us prestige and awards” during a town hall meeting addressing the ZeniMax closures. Last year, Xbox games marketing head Aaron Greenberg said that Hi-Fi Rush was “a breakout hit” for the publisher, so you’d think Tango’s value would skyrocket. Yet, despite all of this, Xbox president Sarah Bond yesterday told Bloomberg Tech that shutting down the likes of Tango was necessary for the business’s long-term health. Huh?

Speaking at that same town hall, ZeniMax head Jill Braff says it was “about to topple over,” as Xbox’s studios had been spread too thin. The question to Microsoft then becomes: why spend $75bn for ActiBlizz if you’re not going to properly support your other acquisitions? It feels like Toy Story’s Andy throwing Woody away after getting Buzz.

Regardless of what’s going on at Xbox HQ, it’s good to see the outpouring of support for Hi-Fi Rush and its developer. Though the damage has already been done, I’m glad to see a ray of light shining through the ever-darkening clouds.

For more of the latest on Xbox’s recent studio closures, check out my think piece on how the company has lost its opportunity to control the narrative after suffering yet another PR nightmare. Before you go, don’t forget to follow us on Google News for the latest beats on all things Xbox.