No Straight Roads is the first game from the independent studio Metronomik, a studio founded by Final Fantasy XV lead game designer, Wan Hazmer, alongside Street Fighter V concept artist, Daim Dziauddin. Even though this is the first game from the studio, it’s in the hands of some well-known veterans. Alongside this, No Straight Roads is also a music-themed game, a genre that’s becoming scarcer by the day. Will it headline as the main act or will it be booted straight off stage?
There’s no business like show business, especially when that business is powering a city. NSR is a mass corporation that runs Vinyl City and snobbishly believes EDM is the superior music genre. Our dynamic duo, Mayday and Zuke enter an X-Factor style audition as their rock band Bunk Bed Junction and see the corruption of the NSR judges upfront in person. They decide to take matters into their own hands by hijacking EDM concerts across Vinyl City and show them the true power of rock. If this plot doesn’t bring out your inner rebel, then the rock and roll lifestyle isn’t for you.
From the very second you start playing No Straight Roads, it’s hard not to notice the distinct art style with its heavily inspired neon light colour palette. Mayday and Zuke are fantastically designed characters with kick-ass personalities to boot. This is coupled with not only great charismatic voice acting but a bumping soundtrack from a diverse pool of music genres. Regarding the music aspect, the plot may suggest that it favours one music genre over another, however, throughout the course of the game, it becomes apparent that it’s actually poking fun at the whole idea that one music genre superior.
You’ll get the opportunity to explore Vinyl City in between crashing down the doors of concerts, but it’s not the sprawling city I’d imagined. Simply put, the world of Vinyl City feels very empty. There are a few bankable collectables you can gather, but in the end, it doesn’t really lead to anything. Sadly, this dampened the whole exploration part of the game, even if exploring the town from a visual standpoint looks dazzling.
Before you can crash the party and enter the concerts, you need to go through mini-dungeons. Each enemy you encounter will have a minor beat to learn, so you can anticipate when is best to strike. Which is rather simple if you can keep a note. After defeating these pesky foes you can progress through the dungeon from jumping onto the next platform. The jumping is absolutely pants in this game. Initially, as there are upgrades for jumping, I thought it would improve in the later segments. Sadly, I soon found out this made no difference whatsoever, and that was pretty frustrating.
When you finally reach the concert, it’s time to crash the party with your guitar and some rock-worthy head-banging. These concerts are performed by NSR’s finest EDM superstars. Therefore, the concert clash takes the form of a boss battle format, with a rhythm style combat twist. You’ll have to keep to the beat of the music, absorb the routines and learn each individual ploy of the boss battle. For instance, some boss battles may require you to collect ammo by bashing environmental objects to project towards your adversary. Others may require you to parry to the beat spot on. Without a doubt, these boss battles are the highlight of the show as they keep you engaged throughout.
After completing a boss battle you are presented with a score. Depending on your performance you will gain a certain amount of adoring fans. These fans can be used back at the sewers (your unofficial headquarters) to unlock new abilities and improve your characters stats from the skill tree. Among these include transformations, finishers and the infamous jumping ability that did not hopping help. You can also apply stickers to Mayday’s guitar or Zuke drum sticks from the sewers that will give you perks before heading to the boss battle.
If you want to re-play a level or you weren’t happy with your performance score, you can put on a show for everybody to remember by re-challenging the boss battle. In fact, you can challenge boss battles on a higher difficulty level to gain even more fans. However, be careful as these boss battles are much harder. For example, there may be no music prompts for when the boss will attack. Whatever difficulty you decide to take on, I would highly advise you to re-play the boss battles as this will ensure you being able to tackle the later levels of the game with a breeze, as there is a reasonable difficulty spike if you ignore the skill tree.
Is it time to call it a day and pack up the stereos or will No Straight Roads get you chanting for an encore? When the game excels, it really does surpass all expectations. From the stunning visuals, excellently written story to the engaging boss battles. Unfortunately, when the game suffers setbacks it really does impair the overall gameplay experience. Having said that, if you’re a music or rhythm game enthusiast this game will certainly appeal to you.
No Straight Roads PS4 Review
Overall - Very Good - 7.5/10
No Straight Roads embodies a fantastic narrative with visually stunning environments. This is further exemplified with a fun quirky rhythm-based combat system. However, with the world feeling lacklustre it eventually leads to the game slightly falling short.
- Excellent soundtrack
- Visually stunning
- Engaging boss battles
- Fantastic narrative and characters
- Vinyl City is bland to explore
- Jumping mechanics are dreadful
- Collectables could be more exciting
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.
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