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Hi-Fi Rush Review: Changing reality with the power of rock ‘n’ roll

"A bunch of losers" save the world with the power of music.

Hi-Fi Rush follows the escapades of Chai, a teenage guy who wants nothing more than to become a rockstar. However, either because his right arm is permanently damaged or he's taking the path of least resistance, he enrolls in Vandelay University's Armstrong Program, choosing to get mechanical upgrades for his body. His MP3 player lands on his chest and is fused to his body with a new magnetic robot arm, a scrapyard guitar, and a reality-warping musical heart. Chai sets off to meet new friends, take down a corrupt corporation, and, yes, he will pet the cat. Our review below will detail whether this story worked well or fell short.

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Simplicity be darned, I loved every minute of Hi-Fi Rush's story. Yes, it is mostly easy to digest, and yes, it is wacky, goofy, and requires some suspension of disbelief, but the game made me feel as though this was what it was trying to do. The game felt as though it didn't want me to take the story, or any of it, too seriously, instead inviting me on a journey through a fantastic rock'n'roll playlist while bashing robots to pieces.

Where the story lacks depth or background information on characters, it does excel in telling the story of Vandelay Technologies, the evil capitalist organization I was tasked with bringing down. Through its villains, robots, and notepads strewn throughout levels, Tango Gameworks paid special attention to story background information and led me to really hate Vandelay and its practices.

Score: 4/5


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Hi-Fi Rush's gameplay can be broken down into two categories: platforming and combat. Much of the game will see you dashing, jumping, and exploring mostly linear levels with frequent breaks for a robot brawl or a boss battle.

First off, I must say that some of the platforming segments can be frustrating. In some areas, it felt as though the platforms were awkwardly spaced, making it so my jumping distance was just a little too much or just barely not enough to reach my target. Towards the end of the game, a new mechanic is introduced that makes certain platforming sections time trials that I had to finish unless I wanted to fall to my death, and some of these sections gave very little leeway in terms of time given. Overall, the platforming was good, but these issues were irritating.

In contrast, the game's combat became very fun once I got the hang of it. Combat revolves around using the rhythm system, combos, and special moves. The rhythm system boosts the combos and special moves, meaning that when I was on the beat, I was decimating my robot foes. However, if I panicked and missed beats, I started to get my butt kicked. This, along with the addition of enemies that require certain mechanics to defeat, made combat dynamic, interesting, and fun.

Score: 4/5

Related: Hi-Fi Rush – How to complete the pigeon side quest


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The characters of Hi-Fi Rush are all over the map in terms of personality. Some characters are kind and lovable, others are quirky, villains are wacky, and so on. The constant between them is they are all well-defined personalities that never felt like they were wavering from their ideals. Furthermore, the main protagonists experience a great deal of growth throughout the game, while the villains were remarkably steadfast in their convictions, no matter how evil or unbelievable said convictions could be. For example, Peppermint, the first character Chai meets in the game, specializes in sarcasm, especially regarding dealing with Chai.

Unfortunately, because these characters are so great, I wanted to know much more about them, but the game rarely gives detailed information on character backstories, instead focusing more on the story at the present time. This is more frustrating with Korsica than any other character, as she gets some backstory coverage, but the game offers next to no information about her compared to other characters.

Score: 4/5


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The dialogue of said characters was definitely a strong suit. Humor is a big component of Hi-Fi Rush's dynamic, and the dialogue really hits home in this department. Puns and jokes abound, along with plenty of sarcasm and completely missed sarcasm as well.

The villains vary in the humor department, as two feel geared towards humor, with one being especially over-the-top. However, two villains can get quite intense, with the fourth department head being especially serious about who he is. However, these departures from upbeat and funny typically do not last long before some more humorous dialogue is inserted to realign the mood.

The game's humor rarely feels out-of-place and the game definitely handles its more serious moments well. The only bad thing I can say about this humorous approach is that it has the potential to take away from the story or fall flat based on each player's individual comedic preferences.

Score: 4.5/5

Related: Hi-Fi Rush – Who is Korsica?

Soundtrack and art

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For a cartoonish game, Hi-Fi Rush features some incredible art direction and environments and a great soundtrack. One of the game's most memorable moments for me was towards the very beginning when Chai is launched skyward, allowing him and I to take in the beautiful skyline and sprawling cityscape we were about to explore. The game was filled with these moments, allowing me to get a picture of what awaited me in each new story arc.

As for the soundtrack, with popular rock bands like REO, The Black Keys, Nine-Inch Nails, and others headlining the song list, it was as though Hi-Fi Rush was practically too good to fail in this department. The soundtrack also fits the environments and battles well, making following the rhythm a breeze due to the high-quality tracks being played.

Score: 5/5

Verdict - an absolute headbanger

Let me offer a hot take as my closing note: Hi-Fi Rush may be a Game of the Year contender. I'm not saying the game is perfect, but what I am saying is that Hi-Fi Rush is the kind of game you can sit down and play for a short or long amount of time and feel great while doing it, and that is a great feeling for a game to have. The game doesn't try to get players hooked or invested for hours at a time, instead inviting players to hop in, listen to some tunes, bash some bots, and just have fun while still offering plenty of content to players who wish to get their money's worth.

We received this code from Bethesda Softworks for reviewing purposes.

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Want more information on Hi-Fi Rush? Check out Who is the Voice Actor for Chai in Hi-Fi Rush? Full Cast List and All Hi-Fi Rush Achievements and How To Complete Them from Pro Game Guides!

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Image of Jaret Knox
Jaret Knox
A gamer born and raised, Jaret's first two video games were Contra and Super Mario Bros. 3, two games released before he was even born. He attributes these games to his wide-ranging interest in varying genres, and also credits them with his love of gaming in general. This led him to starting a career in video game writing, and now he can be found freelance writing for Pro Game Guides, spending time with his fiancé, playing video games, or reading a good book.

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Hi-Fi Rush Review: Changing reality with the power of rock ‘n’ roll

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