✔️A vibrant display in aesthetics that remain unmatched in rhythm titles. ✔️Excellent soundtrack that accompanies its various boss battles. ✔️Eccentric cast of quirky characters that will keep you captivated in its overall narrative.
❌Not entirely an instant classic within its genre. ❌Some minor technical bugs, nothing major.
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Over the years, we’ve seen the rhythm category evolve over a myriad of musical franchises that have come and gone. The genre may not boast a fat beat as it did last generation, but surely deserves a forthright renaissance giving the prominence of popular VR title Beat Saber, staking its claim as the king of rhythm – at least for the time being. However, simple rhythm title’s have fizzled into the background and the reason may play in part with popular music franchises from the past taking their last dying breath this generation. Rock Band and Guitar Hero tried their hand at rebooting their respective brands, but fell short of their desired forecast in lukewarm sales.
While we’re privileged with various indie studios entering the fold, many have grasped onto the brash baton left lingering by two of gaming’s biggest rhythm based series that were instrumental (no pun intended) in inspiring an entire market of mini-rhythm based titles. Crypt of the Necrodancer, Voez, Elite Beat Agents, and a plethora to ultimately get your groove on within Steam’s incredibly vast library. However, there is something special about No Straight Roads that displays a bold take on the entire genre. An encapsulating adventure, with two quirky character leading a revolution to bring back rock. Quite the interesting concept, when you think about how music has transitioned in popularity from Punk Rock to EDM in the past decade. Not that there’s anything bad about EDM, but Rock is truly soul music that harnesses personality and that’s what NSR delivers.
Are you ready to rock?...
Developed by Metronomik, No Straight Roads demonstrates an ambitious project for the Malaysian based studio. With Wan Hazmer, Lead Game Designer of Final Fantasy XV, and Daim Dziauddin, Concept Artist for Street Fighter V founding the company and leading their team on this adventure of melodic mayhem ensures an amalgamation of creativity from two experienced veterans within the industry. I can safely say that No Straight Roads delivers on its promise of being an imaginative flurry, overflowing with exuberance and flair. Personally, I’m not the most musically inclined person but I sure am dexterous and that comes in handy when playing a title as expeditious as NSR.
Challenging players to follow beats, with musical and visual cues as carefully laid assists helps with overall engagement, while its campaign sits side-by-side with its purpose of being a meticulously carved-out choral consonant. Portraying two confident and headstrong protagonists simultaneously – with the option of couch co-op – you follow the arduous adventures of Bunk Bed Junction, an indie rock team living in the underground sewerage system of Vinyl City. Determined to impress the NSR Music label, the always enthusiastic Mayday and her nonchalant, laid back band buddy Zuke both head downtown to NSR’s battle of the bands audition, hosted by a panel of NSR’s elite corporate’s.
Initially impressing NSR CEO Tatiana, the entire panel reject the pair of pressing performers after their rockus reception is argued by the label as antiquated. Rock is outlawed by NSR for its self-proclaimed progressive EDM genre that fuels the city’s own lifestyle. Not accepting the judge’s decision, Mayday gets in Tatiana’s face and obscenely tells her we she can stick her “X”, not before being thrown out of the curb. While Zuke does his best to calm his cross cohort, the two discover that the record label are preparing a hostile takeover with the entire city powered by Electronic Dance Music. Unable to stand by and witness an imposed dictatorship, the duo devise the ultimate anthem, and help return Vinyl City to its rocking roots.
Put it in the soul of everyone...
Leaning into a combination of multiple genre’s with rhythm being its outlier, No Straight Roads deviates itself from traditional title’s of its ilk, rather banding a mixture of hack-and-slash, traditional platforming, and rhythm based gameplay into one unique demonstration. Initially booting into the title, we’re met with our two hero’s battling it out in the NSR Arena, against a vast variety of formidable foes that only aim to train our daring duo into becoming better musicians. The aim here is to follow the beat, then attack with either character in a timely manner. Weilding Mayday’s electric guitar to lumber some heavy hammer-throws will surely leave a nice dent in all cybernetic contenders.
Switching out to Zuke, using his drumsticks to arrange a methodical sequence in a lighter flurry of combos, you may find yourself having to promptly rotate your protagonists on occasion. Leaping and dodging obstacles at the beat’s behest will boost your overall experience and skill when progressing through each boss battle that looms. Each concert that the indie-rock band shut down will earn them their own fanbase. The amount of fans are earned by your overall skill and presentation you put on during each battle, with a class rank being assigned at the end of each mission. Additionally, fans may be used as an in-game currency to unlock certain skills individually.
While its premise may not be anything of grandeur, its design and aesthetics are simply spectacular. Its abstract and innovative art style leads an implication of devious detail that gives off the sensation of arbitrary injudiciousness from it’s voluminous variety of villains on full display. Its quirks and comical timing accommodate its blemished metropolis. You may find it as desolate as a locked-down Melbourne CBD, with only a few friendly faces to further its narrative. Its soundtrack however, phenomenal. Simply put, those who love their Eletronica and Dance Music will fall in love with NSR’s vibe. Its aesthetic rings true to a rich Euro-EDM House compilation, with some heavy bass and accelerated tempo to keep you on your toes.
Overall No Straight Roads is a captivating cadence of pulsing patterns that will surely engross those looking for an insane amount of fun with some rocking tunes, and lofty vibes. Is it rough around the edges? Some moments are. Is it fun? Hell yes. I admit, I may have been somewhat sceptical towards the title in the beginning but it grew on me after experiencing its vibrant design, and rich archetype. Its rhythmic nature remains consistent throughout its entire duration, and bodes an unmatched blueprint within its own sub-genre. Its an odd flavour of musically infused mayhem that surely will be a conversation piece for years to come. No Straight Roads is awesome, and recommended for rhythm lovers.
No Straight Roads - Metronomik
No Straight Roads is an action-adventure video game developed by Malaysian independent studio Metronomik and published by Sold Out Ltd. The focuses on an indie rock duo who battle an EDM empire to free Vinyl City from their control with the power of rock.