Hi-Fi Rush review: If Devil May Cry and Guitar Hero had a baby

A dream come true for musically-talented gamers

A screenshot of the title screen from the game Hi-Fi Rush
Hi-Fi Rush is an action-adventure hack and slash game that is a mixture of Devil May Cry with Guitar Hero. (Screenshot: Tango Gameworks)

If you've been anywhere on the internet the last few days, you might have already heard about Hi-Fi Rush, an action-adventure game with a rhythmic twist developed by Tango Gameworks, the studio behind The Evil Within horror games and also Ghostwire: Tokyo.

Announced out of the blue at the Xbox Developer Direct showcase on 26 Jan, the game immediately went on sale for the PC and the Xbox consoles, and got people talking almost as quickly.

Hi-Fi Rush attempts to bring something different to the action-adventure genre made popular by games like Devil May Cry from Capcom and Bayonetta from Platinum Games.

It introduces music and beats into this formula, allowing players to do more damage and have advanced movement if they time all their actions in-game according to the beat that is playing.

As an action-adventure snob, I've sunk a lot of playtime into games like Devil May Cry 5 (I unapologetically have 100+ hours of game time, and S-ranks in most of the levels on the hardest difficulty).

I am also a casual musician, with my main instrument being the drums, while having the guitar and bass guitar as a side.

A game successfully combining these two elements of my life seemed too-good-to-be-true.

So I instantly bought the game on Steam, and prepared to find out what all the hype was about.

A screenshot of a gameplay menu in the game Hi-Fi Rush
You are able to purchase combos and power-ups throughout the game to expand your arsenal. (Screenshot: Tango Gameworks)

A fun, campy story

No spoilers here, but the story is a fun, campy, over-the-top fare.

It isn't the best storytelling, but that is not the main focus of the game.

Hi-Fi Rush focuses on Chai, the protagonist of the game, who, for some reason, decides to get mechanical enhancements.

But the upgrade process goes slightly awry as he gets his MP3 player integrated into his enhancements, which gives him his rhythmic powers.

Overall, the characters in the game can sometimes be lovable, and sometimes a little overbearing.

Some scenarios don't make sense, but the game is totally self-aware with how absurd some things are.

Oh, and there is also a cute cat that you can pet.

Gameplay is great, but might be easy mode if you're musically-inclined

Here is where the game really shines.

While you are able to play as per-normal like a hack-and-slash game, the game incentivises the player to time your actions according to the rhythm of the song that is playing.

Attacks do more damage and have special animations, while dodging and parrying attacks on the beat have additional effects.

Yes, enemies also attack you according to the music's beat. For some reason, it really feels like playing a game like Guitar Hero, just in a different form.

Which brings up something — this game may be a little too easy for the musically-inclined, even at the highest difficulty.

For reference, I completed the game on the 'Very Hard' difficulty. I initially started with 'Hard', but found it a little too easy, so I swapped after completing the first stage.

Since you can dodge and parry according to the beat, it is easy to time both these mechanics to escape enemy attacks unharmed.

As long as you know where an attack is coming from (and the game visually tells you this), all you need to do is dodge towards the attack. Since the dodge has invincibility frames, you will be safe.

Occasionally, enemies can throw off-beat attacks that catch you by surprise, but once you have experienced the timing of those attacks, it becomes easily avoidable.

That said, I can see the game being extremely tough if one has no sense of rhythm.

While you can play the game normally like a typical hack-and-slash, you are going to have a really difficult playthrough with anything above the 'Normal' difficulty, as enemies dish out a lot more damage in 'Hard' and 'Very Hard' modes.

There is also the hardest difficulty, called 'Rhythm Master', that you can only unlock after completing the game once. I have not attempted to play that just yet, so it may pose a challenge.

The game provides a training room where you can practice your combos and attempt to follow the beat, if you would like to master the game's mechanics.

A screenshot of the training room menu in the game Hi-Fi Rush
The training room is a great addition to the game for players who are looking to practice their rhythm and combos. (Screenshot: Tango Gameworks)

You are able to upgrade your character akin to Dante and Bayonetta from their respective series by buying moves, upgrades, health bars and special moves. The game even has energy tanks much like Capcom's Megaman series.

Hi-Fi Rush seemingly has a lot of inspiration taken from Capcom games, which I'm guessing is highly likely because Tango Gameworks's founder, Shinji Mikami, previously came from Capcom.

Conclusion: Something fresh with a good Saturday morning cartoon feel

Hi-Fi Rush brings something fresh to the action-adventure scene.

If you are a fan of the genre, it is definitely worth your time to experience the amazing work Tango Gameworks have put into this game.

Even if you are not musically-inclined, I believe that the game has the right tools to let the player learn the game's mechanics, and much like playing an instrument, practice is always the key to get good.

If you are only playing the game for the story, then be prepared for a fun and campy ride.

It has every anime and cartoon trope thrown into the mix, which makes some parts extremely nonsensical, but still has a good Saturday-morning-cartoon feel to it.

Hi-Fi Rush is out now for purchase on the Xbox Series X/S and PC.

If you are a subscriber of the Xbox Game Pass, it is included in the library of playable games.

Dominic loves tech and games. When he is not busy watercooling his computer parts, he does some pro wrestling.

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