I played like crazy on the stage set up by Tango Gameworks: a review of Hi-Fi Rush, the best concert of my life
Baby Driver is a 2017 film, also available on Netflix, starring Ansel Elgort (the actor from Tokyo Vice for example, among the best series of 2022): Baby, is a skilled driver who offers his talents to boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) to drive the most classic stolen car in organized robberies and exploit its infinite capabilities to enable the gang to escape police sirens. However, Baby suffers from tinnitus, a hearing disorder, which is blocked by the protagonist thanks to the music pumped to the maximum by his earphones. And it is precisely through music that Ansel is often able to evade the “flatfoots,” synchronizing his movements in the car to the rhythm of the songs.
The same thing Baby did, I did, pad in hand, with Hi-Fi Rush, the new Rhythm Action Games by Tango Gamerworks: to make it as simple as possible, hit enemies and every object on the screen with the arm-guitar of Chai, 25-year-old with a dream of becoming a rock star, to the beat of music. Too bad I am terribly out of tune, have no sense of rhythm, and those headphones in my ears were no help whatsoever…in the first two hours.
After getting the hang of it a bit, I dove into this adventure with the purpose of stopping the diabolical plan of Kale Vandelay, unscrupulous CEO of the Vandelay Technologies, which intends to exploit an AI to monitor users’ buying habits (Hi-Fi Rush is beautifully written, lighthearted but also quite current in its themes).
Welcome to the Hi-Fi Rush concert. Ticket cost? Game Pass Subscription
Here I am, then, with my guitar arm, mauling all the robots that try to get in my way. I sound like Mark Tremonti in Terminator mode (I say Tremonti because I saw Alter Bridge in Milan in November and he is the first great guitarist that comes to mind right now). In fact, actually, I feel like Mark Tremonti inside a cool cartoon, in which I move, jump and dodge at lightning speed, dancing to a rock soundtrack consisting of such sacred pieces of the genre as Gold on The Ceiling by The Black Keys or 1,000,000 by the Nine Inch Nails.
God I am unstoppable, concatenating light and heavy attacks in the name of the boundless hype that the Xbox Developer Direct has set off in me. Hi-Fi Rush is a ticking time bomb whose detonation is so powerful that it breaks through the monitor to abduct the player into a gameplay loop that gets better by the hour.
As the levels pass, the options for combat available to us begin to expand more and more, yet leaving us great leeway to choose the style that suits us best. First release the grappling hook which thus allows me to cover in half a second the distance between me and the opponent-especially the infamous robot that shoots at you from afar-and fill him with bludgeons without losing style score, then Hi-Fi Rush also teaches me the parry, critical to Blocking attacks and even repelling bullets back to the sender (not even if we were in Star Wars). It took me 30 years to learn it properly – the parry will also prove crucial to completing specific minigames against certain enemy mobs – but when I did, Hi-Fi Rush unlocked a Sekiro memory for me.
The best rock band ever
Between a platform phase and another (never really challenging but pleasantly entertaining), I work my way through deadly solos and then finish each combo – in which timing is most important in order to tie the attacks together and inflict the most damage, otherwise the rhytm game nature of Hi-Fi Rush would be lost in the confusion of the battles – with a devastating Final lunge. Chai raises his guitar, which he will use like a baseball bat, to hurl the enemy far away and blow him to smithereens, as the screen is transformed into a fireworks show in which everything comes to life through the magic of rock (the animations are truly goosebumpy).
As in any rock band, there is more than just the leader: so here are the other members of Chai’s band taking the stage to participate in the Tango Gameworks show. At guns Peppermint; at fists the giant Macaron; at sounds and lights the robot Cinnamon: the playful experience becomes choral, thanks to the possibility of summoning our friends both to interact with the environment and open up otherwise inaccessible paths, and in combat, to break the shields of certain enemies, inviolable to our guitar, or to conclude certain combos (Chai’s moveset, to be unlocked as we continue in the adventure, is really extensive).
The icing on the cake of the work are the boss fights, all of which are different, heart-pounding and challenging, expertly mixing classic rhytm game (pressing the right button at the right time according to the rhythm of the song) and pure action, presented by memorable cutscenes in keeping with the madness that embraces the production. In short, Hi-Fi Rush is not only one of the best games available on Xbox Game Pass but also one of the titles of the year.