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Hi-Fi Rush Review (Xbox Series X|S)

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Tango Gameworks' Hi-Fi Rush is a gut-busting bellyful of rock, rhythm, and total anarchy, and it's undeniably the biggest topic on everybody's lips right now. What makes it even more intriguing, of course, is its lack of history—particularly in the development department. As it just so happens, the rhythm-based indie made little to no effort to make itself known in the build-up to its rather abrupt, albeit surprisingly ardent reveal. But now that it has arrived, our interest in it has only reached a crescendo, which has in turn made us want to delve straight in and analyze its every beat and bump with a fine-tooth comb.

Having spent a solid ten hours bopping, beating, and hammering through its fairly dynamic campaign and absorbing its comic book-esque world, I can finally chalk up a verdict. Question is, did Hi-Fi Rush compose a perfectly playable and well-orchestrated score, or did it fall short and make me want to fast-forward to the final verse?

Queue the Rhythm

Hi-Fi Rush puts you in the shoes of Chai, a wannabe rockstar who begins his journey as just one of the many test subjects of augmentation at a company known as Vandelay Technologies. After the implant goes awry and results in Chai adopting unusual music-focused powers, the empire that is Vandelay and all its supporters are quick to brand you as a defect, thereby making you an enemy of the state. Harnessed with a guitar-shaped club and a music player fastened to your heart, you must use your newly appointed abilities to whittle down the evil corporation, from its low-level drones to the CEO himself.

On paper, Hi-Fi Rush isn't the most complex story to follow, nor is it exactly laden with twists, turns, and unfathomable conclusions. In fact, it's a bread and butter hero verses antihero scenario, and it does all in its power to keep things both simple and easy to digest. And on that note, I for one can't complain—especially after having played through countless fifty-hour RPGs with mounds upon mounds of convoluted plotlines. The fact is, its simplicity is what makes it the breath of fresh air that it is. And, above all, its clever use of comedy and genuinely likable characters make it twice as liberating, particularly in moments where it just wants to be a video game and not the product of an overambitious idea from a studio with a god complex.

In spite of Hi-Fi Rush being somewhat predictable and accompanied by an oh so recognizable ensemble of characters, it is, nevertheless, an enjoyable experience from beginning to end, and it does more than enough to keep things simple and to the point. But let's about the gameplay; the rhythm from which it thrives on.

The Beat Goes On

It's awfully tempting to slide the likes of Hi-Fi Rush up against other rhythm-based chapters such as Rhythm Fighter, given the fact that both rely on the same style of combat and what have you. However, Tango Gameworks' vibrant world definitely comes into its own as something far more unique—wondrously independent, even. And what makes its gameplay even more appealing is its beginner-friendly system, which is, for lack of a better word, simplified to accomodate even the most inexperienced rhythm-obsessed gamers.

True to its warm nature, the gameplay itself isn't all that difficult—even with the highest settings enabled. And what makes it even more appealing is its relaxed format, something that lets you play without having to worry about keeping in time with the beat, or even racking up high-powered combos, for that matter. The fact is, even with the tutorials telling you to “keep up with the beat,” at no point do you actually need to adhere to such rules in order to progress deeper into the story. If anything, these are advisories, if only to help you boost your overall score and rankings in each encounter.

Hi-Fi Rush also features a fair amount of platforming. This includes collecting Gears for upgrades, new attacks, and items, as well as special augments to help boost your health and gauges. This is all pretty self-explanatory stuff, and it doesn't exactly do anything to reinvent the wheel, nor does it do anything particularly exciting to make you want to unlock the entire catalog. Again, this mostly boils down to the fact that, well, you don't need all the gadgets and gizmos to reach the final crescendo.

Pow! Whack! Wham!

It goes without saying that the biggest charm herein is the comic book art style, with which it squeezes dry of all its clichés and POW! WHACK! and WHAMS! that make up just about every issue of every well regarded franchise ever produced. Its consistent, to say the least, and it gels remarkably well with the high-octane combat that it so clearly favors. Also, cinematically, it's sharp, vibrant, and slicker than a stick of butter, which makes it generally pleasant to gawp at, regardless of the situation or mood.

At no point does Hi-Fi Rush's visuals dwindle to a pale, dull, or even remotely drab color palette, which alone makes it a real powerhouse not to be reckoned with. It's invigoratingly fresh, in short, and it's crisp enough to keep your eyes bobbing and scouring the mechanical metropolis of Vandelay Technologies from the second you unlock it to the minute you leave its towering doors.

An Everlasting Crescendo

Like I said, Hi-Fi Rush isn't the lengthiest of games; in fact, you could pretty much crush it in a couple of sittings if you were so inclined to do so. And you will, believe it or not, as it's not only a short game (and a free one, thanks to Game Pass), but also something of an everlasting crescendo, and rarely does it ever dip in tempo or mood. From the moment you ignite the flame to the split second you pass the torch, you will feel entwined with the feud between Vandelay Technologies and the ever so sprightly hero, and will undoubtedly crave the conclusion that the narrative gradually nudges towards in bite-sized chunks.

There are, of course, times where the action grinds to a partial halt, though these moments are only ever temporary and in no way intrusive. It's times where, for example, you're given the opportunity to roam around The Hideout, which serves as the social hub between stages, that grants you respite. But even these short bursts of calm are often snowballed into full-fat tribulations, many of which keep the heat amplified and the entertainment value dialed up beyond breaking point. And so, it's rare that you're ever left to wallow in your own thoughts with Hi-Fi Rush; it wants you to break a sweat, and it most definitely wants you to bang your head to the beat while you're filling the bucket.


Hi-Fi Rush is equally as chaotic as it is aurally collected; it brings the art of anarchy to a colorful rock opera that's both pleasing on the eye as well as to the ear. Its heart and soul, which is mostly fused to its hack-and-slash combat, isn't just addictive, but fully equipped to handle a second, maybe even a third inning. And it's the comic book art style, too, that gives it that little extra appeal. Combined, Tango Gameworks' fish-out-of-water indie jolts to life as an invigoratingly atmospheric and highly energetic concept that's clean-cut and perfectly capable of hosting countless play-throughs.

Of course, there's still plenty of components that could make an otherwise great game an excellent game; a wider variety of combos, for one. And admittedly, there are a number of segments that feel generally drawn-out and somewhat repetitive—particularly during combat. That said, Hi-Fi Rush does exactly what it says on the tin, and it does it well enough to keep you entwined for the long haul. And when all's said and done, this is really all a game can hope to achieve: captivating a player for all the while it sticks around to tell you a story.

Hi-Fi Rush isn't going to be everybody's cup of tea, that much is true. But, needless to say that it's a real breath of fresh air for those who feel inclined to pick up anything that bleeds rhythm and high-octane combat. Although it probably won't be in line to receive any top-shelf awards anytime soon, it has certainly won our token of respect, and then some.

Hi-Fi Rush Review (Xbox Series X|S)

Don't Touch That Dial!

Hi-Fi Rush isn’t exactly bursting with innovations or anything that’s going to revolutionize the industry, but it does deliver what it says on the tin: a ridiculously entertaining rhythm-based rock opera that’s both hilarious and addictive in the best ways imaginable. And on that note, we can’t fault it.

Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.