Publisher: Sold Out
Director: Wan Hazmer, Daim Dziauddin
Producer: Idir Alexander, Ould Braham
Designer: Lydia Ho, Dexter Tam
Links to Purchase
Xbox One: https://amzn.to/2ErcZJ0
Review Code Provided by SOLD OUT GAMES
In today’s age of gaming, nearly everything that comes out is trying to be focused on hyper realism and cinematics that are less a game and more an interactive movie and it’s with this that it seems most AAA Developers are losing sight of what makes gaming what it is. While there is nothing inherently wrong with attempting to merge game and movie into a new experience, it just gets to a point where everything that comes out feels routine and trite with the same beats and points as the last game and yet because of that indie studios have been making it a point to make games that are heads and shoulders above what AAA studios are doing in many aspects and that’s creating games that are both fun to play and uniquely original in many aspects.
With NO STRAIGHT ROADS, publisher SOLD OUT has decided to take a concept centered around modern day music and merge aspects of other action adventure platformers into a game that is a serious introspection on the modern state of music and the idealistic natures of upcoming bands starting out all with a dash of self-aware humor and Disney Pixar graphical style. The question is, does this game bring enough to the table to stand out or is it just another attempt at originality that falls on its face? Let’s find out!
NO STRAIGHT ROADS kicks off with Bunk Bed Junction band members Mayday and Zuke auditioning for at NSR to get the chance to become music stars similar to American Idol or America’s Got Talent where there’s a panel of six judges rating each and every entrant. All of the entrants are EDM/Pop artists as that is the trending music that everyone listens to and expects; and then comes Bunk Bed Junction who are a Rock band with guitarist and vocalist MayDay and drummer Zuke who are going against the trend and being original. While MayDay and Zuke complete the trials the judges give them, they are none the less not passed on by them based solely on the fact that they are performing Rock music and not EDM.
MayDay challenges judge Tatiana on what grounds they were rejected for and is told that Vinyl City is a city of EDM and that is the only music of worth and only music that people listen to and that they are not cut out for music. MayDay calls out judge Tatiana and is swiftly thrown out and disqualified from ever auditioning again and performing music in Vinyl City. Upon being thrown out, MayDay and Zuke learn that NSR is powering only the elites of Vinyl City with electricity that they are siphoning from all others which motivates MayDay to hatch a plan to not only take down NSR but also to restore power to all of the citizens of Vinyl City and raise on the billboard charts while at it.
From action adventure to platformer to hack n’ slash to action RPG elements, NO STRAIGHT ROADS has it all and more as the game starts off simple with a basic jump, dodge, and attack layout that masks the depth of the title’s combat as not only can you gain more attacks and abilities but you also are able to switch characters and did I mention this game is CO-OP?
The game allows for CO-OP locally for you and a friend to go to town as MayDay and Zuke and beat up the baddies and rock out together. Even if you can’t play Co-Op the game is still amazing as a single player experience.
Your base of operations is the sewer and from there you can move about to Zuke’s Workshop where you can modify your weapons and gain stat bonuses with the stickers you collect along the way or add different abilities to your characters, there is also the trophy room to store all your collectables along with the arcade room to play a retro style rhythm game.
You can also visit the briefing room to get information on your next missions to tackle as well as the radio room where you will work with a certain character to broadcast out interviews to your fans which will allow you to select your responses to their questions.
At the base you can go to the underground concert area and have access to the skill tree system for increasing the stats and abilities for both MayDay and Zuke individually and collectively as a pair allowing for double jump and dashing abilities to be unlocked along with increasing health gauge and decreasing damage taken from enemies to even increasing the amount of attacks for both characters have access to and increasing the amount of damage done by them. The system is very robust.
Outside of your base, you have the city of Vinyl to explore which is incredibly colorful and vibrant and has a variety of citizens roaming about of which many you can talk to. Vinyl City opens up more and more as you complete levels and gain new abilities such as the double jump and air dash. You can gain a higher reputation and gain more fans when you use the batteries you find to restore aspects of the city from light posts to vending machines and more which can easily be found strown about the levels and gathered in a collect-a-thon matter.
The battle system feels similar to an Ys game with it’s focus on a static camera on a battlefield that you roam around while navigating around or through enemies and dealing with platforming sections. Enemies have rather simplistic attack patterns that are easy to read and also have AOE or Area of Effect attacks that are highlighted with a red circle on the ground which the game also gives you more than enough time to avoid these. Some enemies will have attacks that will change color from an unblockable red color to a purple color which is an indicator that it can be parried back to the enemies to deal addition damage to them so make sure you time your parries as the incoming attack has a tell tell of the beat of the music of the level you’re in.
Levels themselves are incredibly varied with no two stages feeling or looking remotely the same. One level will have you running from point A to B in a fairly linear line while another stage will put an emphasis on using environmental stationary devices that need to be activate to either open pathways or attack enemies and bosses and yet another stage will have you platforming in quick succession while enemies rain down endless attacks on you as if you’re in a bullet hell SHMUP.
Boss encounters are incredible with you having to think on your feet and stay moving as each encounter is wholly different from the last. The first boss is a DJ which has you fighting on his cosmic scratchpad turn table needing to hit the rotating planets to gain musical notes to shoot at him and activate environmental items to attack as well while the next boss will have you fighting a virtual pop idol within a network having to avoid her beams and strikes and yet again you’ll have an entirely different boss that forces you to fight two bosses at once that share the same health gauge . All in all no boss fight feels the same and the mechanics of each fight change as you progress in the game from level to level and also worth mentioning is the fact that bosses all have multiple phases to them typically up to 3-4 phases so they aren’t short fights nor do they over stay their welcome as they are incredibly fun fights with EPIC music accompanying them.
So the graphics? VIBRANT AND BEAUTIFUL! This game knows it’s a video game and relishes in that fact with creating characters that are cartoony in nature and look as if they are pulled from a Disney Pixar movie. The look and animate in a fun and colorful way with each character having so much personality in their expressions and individuality. MayDay is vibrant and screams punk rocker chick with her attire and hairstyle while Zuke excudes an air of cool calm chill vibes with his laid back look with dreads. Tatiana just looks devilish with her design featuring sharp stoic angles and scars on her face.
The game features cutscenes that utilize both ingame engine with animated cut-ins adding to the games comedic nature.
The design of the city is a smorgasbord of neon lights, bustling citizens, and posters aplenty. There’s an artistic level of art strown about the environment and it feels creatively realized. The levels themselves range from a DJ hall to a virtual pop idols network infrastructure to a bustling futuristic militaristic One Direction-esque flying car level to a nightmarish piano recital hall.
As I am reviewing the game on PS4; it runs at a stable 60FPS at what looks to be 1080P. I didn’t experience any framerate drops or issues with graphical drops in quality as it was smooth through out my time with the game.
So I NEED this games soundtrack ASAP! This game has nothing but absolute BANGERS when it comes to the music it has playing from Rock to Pop to EDM to Hip Hop and more! There are NO BAD soundtracks in this game and whats cool is that when progressing through levels getting closer to the bosses, the music changes and adds different effects and vocals as if the songs are becoming more realized as you progress further. I LOVE the battle between Zuke and his brother as the Raps between them along with the gameplay are simply INCREDIBLE! The soundtrack is made from a line-up of artists such as Falk Au Yeong, James Landino, Andy Tunstall & Funk Fiction, Masashiro “Godspeed” Aoki, Az Samad, Clyde Rabatel and the Video Game Orchestra.
The voice acting in the game is top knotch with every character sounding as I’d imagine them to and no one feels miscast at all. One thing I did notice at times was that MayDay would slip in and out of an accent that sounded Malaysian at times and I wasn’t sure if that was intentional or not but its something that when you hear it it’ll be a bit jarring when she normally speaks like a typical Valley Girl American. Maybe the voice actor was putting on an American accent? Not sure.
This game doesn’t have any real downsides to it other than the jumping can feel floaty but otherwise I have nothing bad to say about this game.
This game has so much to love and even more to swoon for with it’s hilarious humor, vibrant and colorful artstyle, superb voice acting, AMAZING soundtrack, fun gameplay, and a storyline that touches on the current state of the music industry and music lovers being monopolized by EDM and how there truly is room for more genres to be showcased and appreciated. As someone who has been in the music industry and was once a signed singer and songwriter; I can appreciate the love and passion that went into the creation of this majestic title and honestly this game has a very special place in my heart as not many games dare to do what this game has done and done so well and as a gamer and a musician I love it all the more for it.
NO STRAIGHT ROADS is an accurate title for what the music industry is and this game most definitely is a MUST OWN that YOU NEED in your collection and especially if you are a musician. This is honestly my game of the year 2020 because with all the remakes and remasters we’ve had this year, not at all have we had a game that has been this original and innovative in a long time. DON’T SLEEP on this GEM! #NoStraightRoads