Got Rhythm? Prove it in Hi-Fi Rush
Rhythm games have been a thing for a long time now. Doing anything to a good beat makes it that much better, and video games are certainly no exception. In fact, it's one of my favorite genres of games overall, and represents some of my favorite games of all time, including PaRappa, DDR and BeatSaber, not to mention other favorites like Ragnarock and Audio Trip. I've played my fair share, as you can probably tell, and Hi-Fi Rush is fresh, fun and funky.
In Hi-Fi Rush, the entire world marches to the same beat. Rather, everything around you, and everything you do, is to the beat. You play as Chai, the hapless, somewhat obnoxious youth who's been bamboozled into a project that purports to work on robotic/mechanical implants, which you happen to have. But something wicked this way comes, as it usually does, and this entire experiment may not be on the up and up.
Luckily for you, in a not that tragic accident, your ipod gets jammed into your body right around where your heart should live, and your arm implant gets imbued with magical guitar powers Wayne and Garth only dream of. You're going to have to escape the facility Austin-Powers style, but there's more than sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their frickin' heads to battle.
Hi-Fi Rush incorporates rhythm into everything, which means there's a lot of different ways rhythm comes into the gameplay. As I mentioned before everything happens to the beat - your footsteps, the whoosh of machines, the music (and the soundtrack is FIRE, by the way.)
What's nice is that even if you're a little tragic with keeping a beat, you can play Hi-Fi Rush. There's a few difficulty settings, and for at least the combat, you'll always hit "on the beat" but not precisely so. The game actually requires the precision of a game like Pa-Rappa to excel at, which makes a band nerd like me giddy, but though you'll be thrown quick syncopation and combos drummers regularly parse, if you absolutely can't get it on beat, you'll still be able to defeat enemies and even bosses- it'll just take you way more time and you'll likely not score super well.
Chai acquires friends and powers as he carries on trying to find his way out, and can use them to his advantage. Peppermint breaks shields and distracts foes, while heavy hitter Macaron breaks special force fields. 808 the cat is not only a visual and audible metronome, but has powers of their own to wield in game. If that's not enough, you can set a visual metronome to pin to the bottom of your screen to help you as you battle bot after bot and take on big bad bosses until you've defeated the entire evil corporation and...well, we'll let you figure out that last part.
Combat is fluid and fun and features great combos and specials you'll be able to buy with gears or other in-game currency you'll find scattered about the world. If you're an explorer who likes to loot things, Hi-Fi Rush has no lack of little places full of treasures to uncover.
There's a few places where precise rhythm is the only way -- mostly in stage settings where you're learning a new technique -- but all in all, Hi-Fi Rush remains attainable for even the less musical among us. Add to the great beats great artists like Nine Inch Nails and a comic-book meets Sunset Overdrive aesthetic and you've got a recipe for a super addictive, fun and funny romp that will have you tapping your toes...hopefully in time.