Hi-Fi Rush Director Reveals Inspirations, Development Struggles & Game Conceptualization

Bethesda recently published an article regarding the Tango Gameworks-developed action game Hi-Fi Rush, where the title’s director, John Johanas, answered some questions and provided developmental elucidation.

Johanas revealed that despite being a rhythm game fan, he’s never played a title that managed to instill the satisfaction born from choreographed fight scenes to music; hence how Hi-Fi Rush was born. He also wanted the staff to embrace a change of pace after making The Evil Within 2 and Ghostwire: Tokyo; he didn’t want them only to be known as horror developers.

As for how the protagonist, Chai, came to be, Johanas was insistent on making him a slacker-type character with room for growth despite the pushback the concept initially received. This finalization led to Chai facing multiple scenarios where his sheer presence seemed to make things worse, and part of his growth comprised of confronting those mistakes alongside his naivete.

Humorously and endearingly, the robotic cat companion Chai has at his side, 808, is based on Johanas’ cat at home. In the early stages of development, there was a floating ball instead that served 808’s eventual functions. But Johanas’ cat became part of the conversation, and the rest of the story is evident. Plus, the team was meticulous in crafting animations that reflected 808’s personality.

The title’s presentation has expected influence, with one of the primary ones being the anime FLCL due to its constant style alterations. Moreover, the soundtrack, at least from Johanas’ perspective, has a “90s’ to early 00s’ vibe.” Although since the songs had to have a consistent tempo of around 130 to 160BPM, there was strictness about what could be included; biases had to be negated. Johanas also stated that the game’s ending theme, “Honestly” from Zwan, best captured the vibe they were going for, with positivity and inspiration being focal points of the intended messaging.

Lastly, the struggles of making the combat system work with the music were emphasized, taking two to three times longer than the process would be sans the rhythmic implementation. Even with system optimization that internally synced everything with the music, adequate results were hard-fought to achieve.

Honestly, this interview made me respect Hi-Fu Rush’s intricacies far more than I thought I’d ever care to. For background, I bought the title near launch, and while I fell in love with its feel and systems, the music turned me off enough to make me refund it. None of the songs are really my thing. It’s a shame that my musical tastes don’t align with the staff, but knowing how much love and effort was poured into it from a firsthand source like this makes me appreciate the game far more.

For more details from this interview, you can check out Bethesda’s article.

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In case you missed it, the game’s executive producer, Shinji Makami, announced that he has left Tango Gameworks.

The protagonist is named Chai, a victim of a corporate experience that allows him to sense the world’s rhythm. Enemy attacks, cutscenes, and all the action keep the rhythm going. The endearing partner 808 helps keep the timing like a metronome. Other heroes join Chai to add to the combat’s systems and create lengthy and flashy maneuvers.

Hi-Fi Rush is available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Game Pass, and PC via Steam.

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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual.