Tango Gameworks Hi-Fi Rush is one of those special games that gets almost everything right. Spectacular anime-style visuals, a thrilling soundtrack, and a lively combat system that challenges you to perform combos. Hi-Fi Rush is a mix of everything you like rolled up into one package, and it’s a must-play on Xbox Game Pass and Steam. Here’s why.
Game Name: Hi-Fi Rush
Platform(s): Xbox Series X|S (reviewed), PC
Developer(s): Tango Gameworks
Release Date: January 25, 2023
A breath of fresh rock
There is a deluge of sequels, remakes, and remasters in today’s gaming landscape, so it’s always refreshing to see a new idea like Hi-Fi Rush rock our socks off. From the unlikely developer of The Evil Within series, Tango Gameworks is a game that features an exciting blend of action and rhythm games to create a Devil May Cry-like experience.
Everything in the environment moves to the beat. Your strikes, enemy attacks, and even obstacles move in and out to the song that is playing. The platforming feels rock solid as you time your jumps with the music, and Hi-Fi Rush encourages you to explore new areas with NPCs to speak to and currency that can be used towards getting new moves, combos, and perks.
While open-world games can be neat for engrossing you into an epic adventure, it’s a breath of fresh air to get game design that fits a linear structure. The levels are designed in a clever manner, and the art behind them just pops on the screen. While many of the levels are disappointingly inside indoor factories, the way everything moves to the beat and the little touches developer Tango Gameworks adds to the environment make up for this negative.
The combat rules
The most important gameplay element to consider in an action game is, of course, the combat. Each strike feels smooth, and you’ll receive a buff if you hit the buttons in time with the music. Every attack is animated impeccably with satisfying combos in the air and on the ground. With some combos, the main character Chai makes a bombastic end to the attack string with a rocking special effect. Your attacks feel impactful, like a drummer nailing each beat during a rock song.
Towards the last few hours of Hi-Fi Rush, the combat does get a little repetitive. For the majority of the game, Tango Softworks does a great job of bringing in new enemy types to keep the action fresh. However, as all the chips have been thrown in towards the last few chapters, the tedium does begin to settle.
What helps elevate the game, however, are the bosses. They’re flashy, require strategy, and, above all, entertaining. There are stages to each boss fight, upping the stakes like a Battle of the Bands. As the battle proceeds, new moves ease their way, and the boss gets more desperate. It’s also like a fighting game, in which the stage can change according to the situation of the fight.
With Hi-Fi Rush, you should expect the unexpected. The developer Tango Gameworks keeps throwing in twists and turns in boss battles that you will not expect. It makes every encounter that much more engaging.
The banging music
The other important element of Hi-Fi Rush is the music, and once again, the game nails this aspect. Playing some of the game in Streamer Mode, the original tracks by Shuichi Kobori hit out of the park. You’ll bang your head in time with the rhythm as you try to get the right beat in battle and platforming elements.
Additionally, licensed music is used to elevate important moments in the game. For example, as you’re nearing the end of the game and close to the final boss, Hi-Fi Rush hypes you up with “Invaders Must Die” from The Prodigy. It was a complete rush to eliminate foes to this exciting track as Chai and the gang ready themselves for the biggest fight in the game. There are a number of moments like that in Hi-Fi Rush tied to the excellently chosen licensed music.
A charming story
Image via Bethesda
It isn’t often that games of this quality can be this goofy with their storytelling. Chai is a cocky, yet kind protagonist that acts without thinking. He’s an endearing character that somehow gets the job done, despite messing up many times. Meanwhile, Peppermint is a serious and smart technician who is leading the group.
Both Chai and Peppermint play off each other well with some fun banter throughout Hi-Fi Rush. Once more characters begin to introduce each other, they still play off each other well and create some comedic gold in video game form. What helps build that for the player is how Chai can call in any of his friends to help him in battle. For example, Peppermint can nullify barriers with her shocking pistols. She can also keep your foes juggled in the air.
However, despite all the humor, there is a little bit of darkness within it, and intrigue forms as you learn more about Peppermint’s circumstances and the company that wants to corrupt the minds of its customers. The voice acting by industry veterans like Erica Lindbeck (Persona 5) and Robbie Daymond (Fire Emblem: Three Houses) also shines as they portray their characters perfectly.
A ridiculously good art style
Hi-Fi Rush sticks to its anime/graphic novel art style and runs with it. The colors really pop on screen, and the visual effects from special effects are spectacular. This action game, similar to Devil May Cry 5, rewards its players’ effort of performing combos by making them look gorgeous on screen and ending with some sort of flair at the end.
While, yet again, it is a shame that most of the game takes place indoors with this beautiful art style, it still shines. Elemental effects like fire really pop, and the animations of each character are fluid. It looks and feels like a game that is well-loved by its developer. The robocat that accompanies you even changes the color of its lights, depending on who’s speaking through it. Tango Gameworks has truly impressed with Hi-Fi Rush in terms of visuals, and it will likely stand the test of time for decades, similar to The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker.
Hi-Fi Rush deserves gold record status. The combat is satisfying to pull off, the narrative keeps you intrigued, and the art style is absolutely gorgeous. While the majority of the game is set in a somewhat sterile factory setting, the amount of flair Hi-Fi Rush oozes more than makes up for it.
- Stellar action throughout, with new enemies brought in consistently.
- Gorgeous anime/graphic novel graphics and animation quality.
- Bosses are immaculately designed, with progressively tougher attacks thrown in as the battle proceeds.
- The game gets a little repetitive toward the end as the combat gets a little stale for the last few hours.
- Most levels are set in factory-like settings, not the outdoors.