No Straight Roads Review: Rock Out and Bring on a Revolution (Switch)

Rhythm games, while not exactly rare, are rare enough that when a good one comes up, you hold it tight and hold it like a high note. The same can be said for a good action-adventure game, something to keep the blood pumping. And Cupheadalthough not the first in the world to do so, popularized the “mostly boss battles” style of gameplay where rather than levels or areas, the focus was primarily on epic boss battles.

No straight roads combines these three aspects and the end result, when you would think that would be crazy… well, it is mad. In a very good way.

No straight roads is currently available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Steam.

Story: Changing the System

In No straight roads, we’re in the neon-soaked Vinyl City, where music is the lifeblood of the city. Not really. There’s this thing in the city center called the Great Qwasa that can convert sound waves, especially music, into electrical energy and it’s used to power the city. Sounds like a good solution to an energy crisis, right? This would be the case if it weren’t for the fact that the city experiences constant blackouts.

The Qwasa serves another purpose; to evaluate musicians who participate in the Lights Up audition, organized by the musical megacorp NSR. After a literal battle of the groups that serves as the game’s tutorial and a pretty high return on the Qwasa, Bunk Bed Junction impressed Megastars enough to…not buy, huh? No, even with a high score, the judges always have the last word. And their word is that rock is over; EDM rules the roost.

Naturally, Mayday isn’t too fond of this, but neither is NSR frontman and boss Tatiana, who kicks them out and bans rock music from all future auditions. Shortly after, another blackout occurs, and the only ones left with the power are Tatiana and her Megastars.

Fed up and ready to fight, Mayday and Zuke take up arms to take down the stars and usher in an era of rock!

As you work your way to the upper echelons of Vinyl City’s neighborhoods, taking down the bigwigs in your way, you’ll learn more and more about the history of the town, and how NSR rose to the top , and what sparks a revolution really means.

Two halves of a revolutionary whole bringing changes to the system.

Two halves of a revolutionary whole bringing changes to the system.

The characters: a truly dynamic duo

No straight roads features two playable characters; the explosive, childlike murderer Mayday and the calm, cool, educated Zuke. Together they form the indie rock band Bunk Bed Junction. Solo, you can switch between the two characters to use their unique skills depending on the situation, or team up with a friend locally for some co-op fun. In No straight roadsit takes two to overthrow tyranny.

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Mayday is the fiercest of the pair, action first, thought far behind. As the band’s guitarist, she’s flashy, loud, and always ready to step into the spotlight. By her own admission, she’s a performer, made for the stage, and her personality is reflected in her style of play. rocket launcher accessories.

Loud, brash and impulsive, Mayday hits slow, but hits hard.

Loud, brash and impulsive, Mayday hits slow, but hits hard.

Zuke

Zuke is the most focused and balanced of the duo. Slow to talk, slow to anger and quick to find a solution, he uses the drums and his head to help usher in the revolution. Unlike Mayday, he is more combo-focused and geared more towards support and defense, with his unique transformation skill creating healing items. Master of the combo, Zuke is generally weaker, but can inflict many blows in a short time.

Three Cs and cold as an autumn breeze, Zuke has a good head on his shoulders and good rhythm in his drumsticks.

Three Cs and cold as an autumn breeze, Zuke has a good head on his shoulders and good rhythm in his drumsticks.

Gameplay: music and power do good

The battles are where No straight roads shines, each crazier than the last. A DJ with an ego so big he’s a real black hole, an aquatic Hatsune Miku with a dark secret, a piano prodigy, a real boy band factory and the very abstract concepts of art itself form the list of No straight roads. While you can just smash your way through things, fighting and dodging to the beat is what helps you stay alive the longest and your attacks the strongest. Each boss has phases as you reduce their health, challenging you to use your skills and knowledge to the max to take them down. Part of that is the parry mechanic, where if the timing is right, you can negate incoming purple-colored damage and send it directly back to the enemy. Cuphead fans, are you happy right now?

DJ Subatomic Supernova is the exception, since his fight basically serves as the game’s tutorial, but starting with the second boss, you’ll have stages to complete on your way to the boss, requiring a skilled platformer and clearing a bunch of enemies on your way. This fleshes things out more, not to mention giving you a bigger chance to use any new skills you might have picked up. Knocking down bosses attracts fans to you, which serve as an XP system in No straight roads. More fans, more skills to unlock to make you a force to be reckoned with.

Fights can be challenging and enjoyable, even if you feel like you’re being wiped out. Which, honestly, will happen, Megastars have these titles for a reason. But between hitting with a guitar/chopsticks and shooting them from afar, you won’t miss any damage, and the meter will soon change in your favor.

As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock more skills and moves for the duo, like the ability to recover health, increase the number of hits in your combo chain, and even improve your transformation move to unleash even deadlier attacks. You also have the ability to attach stickers to your gear for effects such as increasing your attack and defense, although they only last for one fight whether you win or lose, so use- them wisely!

Collectibles also abound in Vinyl City; misplace Qwasa to power the city and give a little insight into the world of No straight roads are hidden all around, speaking to the heart of the finalist.

It finally happened.  KPOP has been militarized.

It finally happened. KPOP has been militarized.

Graphics and audio: New Age Old-School

If the boss fights shine, the music BLLOWS. As a game with music as its true focus, every track is an absolute bang, from the cool nighttime vibes of the alleyways of Vinyl City to the interstellar bass of DJ Subatomic Supernova’s endless rave (real name, not even joking). Each track is carefully crafted, and since you’re literally in a musical battle most of the time, you can expect some choice cuts. When boss fights are neutral, the standard version of the theme plays, but depending on who wins, it will switch to a rock-centric version with pounding drums and sizzling guitar, or an EDM-centric version with beats that you simply can’t help but groove to. This is where the love and care Metronomik has put into the game really shines through, and there are more than a few tracks that will be ringing in your ears long after you turn the game off.

Visually, No straight roads is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the ears. The alleys and sewers that Mayday and Zuke call home provide a gritty red carpet before spilling into the glitzy Vinyl City plaza to immerse you in the beauty of the game. Drawing heavily on Malaysian culture (as Metronomik is based on Mayalsia), the main characters have character cutouts that appear and voice acting that brings their appearances to life, however brief. Districts run by Megastar match the personality of their owners, such as the Cast Tech District, run by DJ Subatomic Supernova, resembling a combination rave and planetarium. Everything from scenic skylines to collectibles and points of interest scattered around makes No straight roads feel alive, and you’re sure to find yourself searching less for hidden objects, and more for the simple pleasure of doing so.

No straight roads has been tested on the Nintendo Switch.

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