HiFi RUSH probably shouldn’t exist, and it definitely shouldn’t be as good as it is. But this rhythm-action game from Tango Gameworks is a blast from the jump, a rollicking love letter to color and music, and an era when games had something to say but didn’t take themselves too seriously. I fell in love with her almost immediately.
HiFi RUSH is the story of Chai, a music-obsessed young man named after tea who dreams of becoming a rock star. His right arm is disabled, so he volunteers for Project Armstrong, a pilot program to replace fleshy limbs with cybernetic ones. During the process, Chai’s iPod is accidentally fused to his cybernetic implant. He is considered a defect, and robotic goons are sent to hunt him down.
Lucky for Chai, his robotic arm gives him the ability to summon a weapon (which looks suspiciously like a Gibson Flying V), and as it turns out, having an iPod on your chest has its perks. All in HiFi RUSH syncs with the song playing on Chai’s iPod. Enemies will attack you on the beat. The world pulsates to the beat. Environmental hazards change with the beat.
Chai’s attacks always land on the beat too, but hits are more powerful and have greater recoil if you time your button press to hit on time. If you time your strokes right, you’ll get more of them too. Dealing damage builds up a counter that Chai can use to unleash special attacks, and it’s worth using whenever you can, as this counter will be depleted at the end of each combat encounter.
HiFi RUSH It also rates you throughout the game, assigning points and a rating from D to S based on your performance. Eliminating enemies quickly, avoiding damage, and getting the timing right will increase your score, so it’s good to learn quickly, especially if you’re going for high scores. Killing enemies also drops gears that can be used to level up Chai’s abilities, buy new combos, and acquire new special attacks.
Mastering a perfectly timed combo and hearing a crowd roar feels awesome, and it’s a pretty awesome feeling to add a few notes to the soundtrack yourself, even if you’re just fighting regular enemies. HiFi RUSH is also kind enough to just let you play how you want; You can turn off the meter that tracks the beat, so there’s no downside if you don’t have much rhythm to begin with. Just keep going, and you’ll eventually pick it up.
Between combat encounters, hop and leap through the world, perform basic platforming, play the weird rhythm minigame, and explore HiFi RUSH‘s world and grab collectibles and power-ups. The levels are linear but fun to play around with. As in combat, you can land in rhythm with jumps and jumps to go higher and farther. besides, it’s just fun.
Platforming is pretty basic, but because everything in the world moves to the beat, it quickly becomes a rhythm game too. Being on tact so you land on a platform before it falls off, or on a moving part before it’s out of reach, means being alert and precise instead of just doing the routine moves.
Say Hello–Fi RUSH visually striking is an understatement. Everything is beautifully shaded, lovingly animated and electrically rhythmic, bouncing with every musical note. HiFi RUSHThe world of is so vibrant and colorful that it’s hard not to get caught up in it. It helps that the characters are so endearing.
Chai, Robo-Cat Companion 808 and partner Peppermint are just plain fun. Chai is a sympathetic oaf who tends to rush headfirst into trouble; it’s hard not to support him. 808 is gorgeous, and peppermint often keeps chai at bay, which is a good thing. Their dynamic is playful and infectious and I enjoyed spending every minute with them.
HiFi RUSH is funny too. Whether it’s a visual gag with a robot lamenting its life after dropping a stack of boxes, chai flying through a wall in a way reminiscent of classic Looney Tunes, or one of the hilarious collectibles, scattered throughout the game HiFi RUSH is always a laugh.
I had a smile on my face the whole time, and any game that so effortlessly conveys such a sense of joy is something very special.
HiFi RUSH may be silly, but it also has some surprisingly scathing criticisms of corporations and capitalism under the hood. Announcements that workers will have to call in sick six months in advance or outdated robots will be recycled before they can even say goodbye to their friends feels depressingly modern, and having the guts to portray that even in an otherwise fairly light-hearted game, is quite rare.
H-Fi Rush Review – The Verdict
- Incredible visual and sound design.
- Interesting story and characters.
- Accessibility options to help you stay in rhythm.
- Extremely funny.
- You must exit the game to replay a level.
- There could be more licensed tracks.
- Audio/video lag can really mess up the experience.
as expected HiFi RUSHThe soundtrack of is fantastic, from the original songs that make up most of the game’s levels, to the licensed stuff that ranges from Nine Inch Nails to The Prodigy and The Black Keys. The icing on the cake is that the music is always perfect for whatever you do and HiFi RUSH turns up when it matters most. Slamming the brakes on a giant evil QA robot with Nine Inch Nails “1,000,000” running in the background is something I can’t imagine growing old from.
And at the end of the day, I can’t think of anything HiFi RUSH to become old. It’s so alive, so full of life and so unique. It stands out in a world where many AAA releases seem determined to be anything but. Add the replay value of chasing high scores and Rhythm Tower, which works very similarly Devil May Cry‘s Bloody Palace mode, and this is a game that you can play for a long time.
Featured image via Bethesda