What I love about indie developers is that most of them aren’t afraid to take chances, no matter what’s currently “hot” in the video game market. With this in mind, the rhythm game genre isn’t as mainstream as it used to be, long gone are the days when you and your pals were playing “Float On” from Modest Mouse in Rock Band 2. Yet, the genre is far from dead thanks to indie developers. At PAX West 2019, I was pleased to discover that next year is looking bright for rhythm game fans, especially since No Straight Roads, the upbeat, music-based action-adventure game from developer Metronomik, will be rocking my socks off.
No Straight Roads will have players rock and roll as an indie rock band, Bunk Bed Junction, which consists of bubbly guitarist Mayday and mellow drummer Zuke. This dynamic duo resides in the city of Vinyl City, a vibrant dystopian future that’s overrun by an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) empire known as NSR (No Straight Roads). Unfortunately, NSR has placed a ban on any other type of music to be played in the city, which of course, isn’t so good for Bunk Bed Junction. Rather than staying low and play at hidden, grungy bars, players will stick it to the man and fight against the NSR to reclaim control of the city.
Not too many music-based games have an actual story for players to follow along with, so I was pleased to uncover that No Straight Roads will have a story that’s all about being a rock and roll rebel. From the sound of it, it seems like it’ll be similar to Jet Set Radio — one of the many games I thought of while playing No Straight Roads — which was all about how freedom of expression was outlawed.
With the hands-on demo I played, I started by learning the ins and outs of how the music-based real-time action gameplay worked. In a nutshell, players are going to be able to switch between Mayday and Zuke, attack, either with Mayday’s guitar that can be swung around and played to unleash blasts or Zuke’s drums that shoot attacks from afar, and move around freely. There won’t be a musical beat to consistently follow in order to do a specific action in No Straight Roads.
That said, players will need to have a solid understanding of how enemy attacks ties in with the music being played in the background as doing so will make combat as smooth as the guitar solo in Prince’s jam, “Purple Rain.” At times in battle, I could attack non-stop, but once a specific beat was played, I knew an enemy would attack, so it was either: A. Get hit by the attack or B. quickly dodge. To make it through battles, especially massive boss battles, players will need to rock and roll and at least have a bit of rhythm.
No Straight Roads wouldn’t be a music-based game without some music to go along with it, and let me tell you, the music just in the demo alone was sublime. I found myself bobbing around to all the EDM and rock jams, and what really hit the right notes for me was how the music transitioned seamlessly. For instance, at first, during a boss battle, the music was solely just EDM, but then as I started doing some damage to the boss, more rock beats came into play. It was definitely an impressive feat. But the impressiveness didn’t stop there as I adored No Straight Roads’ vibrant, neon-fused art style.
If you’ve been waiting for a stylish and original music game that lets you go with the flow, No Straight Roads might very well be the game for you. After only just experiencing a bit of the game, I find myself wanting an epic encore.
Thankfully, for me and anyone else interested in jamming out, No Straight Roads is expected to launch on PS4 and PC-via the Epic Games Store in 2020 for $39.99. The game’s retail release is now available for pre-order at GameStop and Amazon.
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