Ever since Hi-Fi Rush dropped during the Xbox Developer Direct, it has taken social media by storm. While the game would have stood on its own two feet regardless of when it launched, the excitement and hype surrounding a stealth release has given us all something to talk about, in a way we haven’t seen for Game Pass yet.
With Hi-Fi Rush, Tango Gameworks, known for the Evil Within and Ghostwire Tokyo games, has given us something very different from its previous releases, with a bright and fun world that constantly has us tapping our fingers to the beat. That’s because Chai, the main protagonist, is a defect of a recent experiment at an evil corporation called Vandelay. He has a robotic arm, powered by a power core containing an MP3 player, which causes him to feel every single beat and the rhythm of the world around him.
Chai’s dream is to be a famous rockstar, but the army of Vandelay robots want to stop him and his dream. Fortunately for Chai, his robotic arm has magnetic properties, which allows him to fight back, turning metal objects around him into a scrap metal guitar. This is where the action kicks in.
The basis of Hi-Fi Rush is that of a simple hack-and-slash game, akin to something like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta. You have a set of simple combos, all of which you’ll need to time to the beat found in Hi-Fi Rush’s world. The more in tune you are with the beat, the higher your score becomes.
The combat may seem basic at first, but the added need to keep in time with the beat adds a challenge not really seen in hack-and-slash games since the genre began. It had me hooked from the first battle, and now any time the words ‘FIGHT’ pop up on screen, I can feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins. This is only helped by the crowd chanting Chai’s name as you land combos time after time. The best bit about this, though, is unlike games like Guitar Hero, you aren’t chastised for missing a few notes here or there, so you can feel pumped regardless of how well you’re doing.
To help you along the way, you’ll find a few other Hi-Fi Rush characters on your adventures, some of which can be called in to help you fight. They can offer much needed support, allowing you to focus on a few enemies while they deal with others. Their moments in combat are short, but they are a great addition to the standard gameplay loop.
As you progress through the Hi-Fi Rush chapters, all of which offer unique and gorgeous visuals that pop with colour, you’ll find yourself going head-to-head with some fairly nasty robots and bosses. Each Hi Fi Rush boss feels distinct, with their own attacks, designs, and personalities. Their differences ensure that each fight remains engaging, keeping me and Chai on our toes at all times. Even the first tutorialised boss fight, set to the remixed tune of 1,000,000 by Nine Inch Nails, gave me excitement that I haven’t felt from a game in years. Also, any game with Nine Inch Nails is an instant seller for me.
That leads well into my next point, which is that the Hi-Fi Rush soundtrack is just absolutely incredible. Whether you’re listening to Hi-Fi Rush originals or licensed songs, the music in this game is phenomenal. Everything in the world goes to the beat of the music, adding some rather immersive elements to what looks like a party game on the surface. The attention to detail for each level here is flawless and it’s what keeps you coming back for more.
There are times where sometimes I just stopped what I was doing and watched the world around me react to the music. Nothing has been pushed to the side with Tango Gameworks and it shows. The robots and machines work to the sound of the beat and will react to what you’re doing too. I caught a glimpse of one robot, who, caught up in the noise of the cleaners, couldn’t nap on his break. After defeating them, he fell asleep, and without stopping to take stock of this beautiful world Tango has created, I simply wouldn’t have noticed.
That brings me to the characters and narrative of Hi-Fi Rush. Every single character is absolutely memorable. While the dialogue can be quite cheesy in parts, it had me laughing out loud. Their friendship with Chai feels organic and you’re able to relate to each character as the game plays out.
Of course, that’s helped by great performances all around. From Robbie Daymond, who plays the aspiring rockstar Chai, to our main villain Kale, voiced by by Roger Craig Smith, the Hi-Fi Rush cast just knocks it out of the park. What may come across as a simple “take down the bad guys” story becomes a noteworthy experience, simply because these characters take something fairly basic and make it exceptional.
Hi-Fi Rush reminds me a lot of Scott Pilgrim. It takes something, which, at the start is quite basic, and injects breathtaking visuals and unforgettable characters into the mix. If you boil Hi-Fi Rush down to its bones, it is a hack-and-slash rhythm game with an anti-capitalist story, but the flair, narrative, and gameplay makes it a must-play for Xbox players.
The attention to detail, the incredibly fluid, yet challenging combat, and a stunning cast of personalities, makes Hi-Fi Rush one of the best Xbox Series X games right now, and I hope it spawns more games like it.
Hi-Fi Rush review (Xbox Series X)
Hi-Fi Rush is a great little rock-and-roll game and one that deserves every ounce of praise it gets. From the lovable cast, to the incredible gameplay, Hi-Fi Rush is the ultimate hack-and-slash-rhythm game that every Xbox owner must play.