After the surprise launch of the Xbox & Bethesda Developer Direct, we tried the first few hours of Hi-Fi Rush on Xbox Series X. Here are the initial impressions.

Xbox took its players by surprise not only by announcing a game during its Developer Direct, but also launching it within a couple of hours of the show. Hi-Fi Rush is a rhythm action from the studio behind The Evil Within and Ghostwire: Tokyoand it couldn’t be further from his previous projects.

Set in a colorful futuristic world, Hi-Fi Rush asks you to jump from platform to platform and fight your way to the exit, with the help of a robotic cat. The novelty is represented by the fact that each action must be performed in time.

Usually, when a game comes out without all the typical media fanfare, it’s because the development team and the publisher are not too confident about the possible reception of the public. In this case, the shadow drop seems to have been a simple but effective coup de theatre: the game runs smoothly, with no bugs or obvious problems at least for now, is polished and has a unique selling point.

Who’s gonna stop the music —

The team was obviously concerned that the requirement to fight to music would be uncomfortable for many action fans. There are many tools that come to your aid, in case, from the beat bar shown at the bottom of the screen to facilitate the fights to the tutorials that make it easier to master the main mechanics. Hi-Fi Rush also has robots scattered around the world for you to practice with, should you feel that you aren’t totally comfortable with it.

It’s a little slow to get going at first, but many of the visual cues designed to help you stay in time even help too much. If you miss a beat, you can still perform an attack, it just does less damage than a timed version. If you find yourself lost between notes, there’s a space to step back and get back into the rhythm again.

There are now many games that have offered fights to the rhythm of music, so it is certainly not a first time, but mostly it was indies such as Crypt of the Necromancer, The Artful Escape or the more recent Metal: Hellsinger; it’s a far less common gimmick in the triple-A space.

Do you have a guitar? —

Visually, everything is very reminiscent of No More Heroes. The protagonist Chai is an aspiring rock star who is going nowhere in life, but he is swashbuckling, opportunistic and flexible. He doesn’t crack wisecracks every couple of minutes, he’s presented more as an idiot who isn’t smart enough to care about the problems that come his way. He didn’t bother us in any way, but we don’t find him particularly pleasant either, always bearing in mind that we are only at the beginning of the adventure.

The game includes sections of both 2D and 3D platforming, and while the combat benefits beautifully from the music-driven design, this form of gameplay seems to suffer at times. The platforms move with the beat, which is ok if you have good timing, but the speed of Chai also changes depending on the song. The first one is quite slow, which means that Chai’s movements are also slow and she doesn’t have enough fluid momentum to allow you to make the jumps you would expect. Of course, that could improve with later songs.

hi-fi rush

Where Hi-Fi Rush really stands out is in the details. When Chai is standing still, an idle animation starts in which he stamps his feet to the rhythm of the music, and the environment follows him too. The game world is alive and vibrates in step with the songs that resonate with us, as in a perfect harmony that we have rarely seen around. Completing an action adds beats to the soundtrack, giving you an idea of ​​how each element works together to create a unique mix. The soundtrack includes licensed tracks but, streamers will appreciate, there’s an option to switch exclusively to the original tracks at any time.

Hi-Fi Rush, the verdict (for now) —

Much remains to be seen after this brief experience with Hi-Fi Rush, but the game looks promising so far. The fights really steal the show from everything else, platforming included, but the constant song changes in the background ensure that the gameplay is always fresh. If you’re not particularly musically inclined and are worried that this might pose a problem, fear not: Hi-Fi Rush will do everything to put you at ease, but we’ll have to wait and see if it maintains its verve from here to the end.

Written by Georgina Young for GLHF

Hi-Fi Rush Tried: My Xbox Plays Rock