Also On: Xbox One, Switch, PC
Publisher: Sold Out
Mayday and Zuke are a rock n roll duo, known as Bunk Bed Junction. They dream of entertaining the sold out crowds as well as providing the denizens of Vinyl City with ample electricity to power their devices. For you see in Vinyl City, music is not only entertainment, but a precious utility. Musical notes can be converted into electricity. Currently the ruling class of Vinyl City is a collective of musicians known as NSR and they are gatekeepers of which bands can contribute to the production of electricity to Vinyl City. B2J is spurned by NSR at their televised audition, and then having their style of music banned from future auditions. The duo noticed that despite NSR?s rule, the denizens are subject to rolling black outs, proving that the artists of NSR aren?t up to the task of providing the populace with power. Despite their televised setback the duo (Mostly at Mayday?s overwhelming insistence), set off to topple NSR.
At its core the game is a boss rush, almost something akin to Shadow of Colossus. You (and possibly a local co-op partner), invade the concerts of the NSR artists and hijack their show in order to free Vinyl City from their grasp. One would assume rhythm would be involved and you would be correct, enemy attacks synchronize to the beat and there are even attacks that can be parried if you attack on the beat. The issue with the parry-able attacks are they come seldomly, they are purple hued which could be a problem with players with sight issues. There are sequences where the only way to damage your opponent is to parry back attacks (The final sequence of the first boss is one such sequence). If the player is rhythmically challenged, these parts will prove to be extremely challenging, but those who can keep a beat will find that the game will have plenty of modes which will test this talent. The reason why bucket this title as a boss rush game is because while there are platforming stages (they?re dubbed ?Approach? sections), they are a means to get to the boss fights and can be skipped in subsequent playthroughs.
Once beaten, a new part of Vinyl City will open up, these sectors are themed after the vanquished artist and a jaw droppingly gorgeous, even if your time spent in these districts will be minimal. Activities in the districts include collecting ?Mini Qwasa?, which can be used to repair malfunctioning electronic devices allowing the duo to garner fans amongst the citizens. Collect stickers which can be applied to their instruments to amplify their abilities. Find collectibles which flesh out the backgrounds of the NSR artist who used to run things.
Despite being a musically oriented title, it?s strongest feature would be it?s art direction. The world of Vinyl City is vibrant and beautiful with clashes of many styles. Whether it is the futuristic, sterile look of DJ Subatomic Supernova, or the vomit of colors and japanese pop of Sayu, each NSR artist certainly would not be confused for one another. Even the attention to detail of the game?s 2 stars says a lot, Mayday?s colors are red, orange brown, colors which can mean fire and passion, Zuke?s colors are more subdued and in tuned with his calm and collected nature. Although I did state the strongest feature was art direction, the music is no slouch, packed with tracks that can easily be earworms.
I don?t want to seem like I?m ?Stanning? for this title too hard, the game isn?t without its faults. At times it?s rather obtuse, making no attempts to explain mechanics. The fact that stickers are consumables, unlocking fast travel requires you to feed Zuke?s pet alligator is never explicitly mentioned. In fact I only unlocked fast travel after I beat the campaign. Backtracking is also an issue, player mods and upgrades can only be done in the duo?s sewer home. So you might?ve gotten a lot of fans by scoring a high grade on concert hijack, but you?ll have to trudge back to the sewers to cash in or replace stickers which have expired. The game?s visual diversity can also be a hindrance, in stages there are pieces of the environment which can be transformed to either turret or a defensive aid. The combination of it?s visual identifier is a metronome and the fact the game?s fixed camera is usually pulled far back, makes it hard to utilize transformables during your first run in the level.
No Straight Roads is like an indie band that if given a chance, you?ll end up being a fan for life. It?s not perfect, but there?s enough there to ensure you have a good time. It certainly stands out in a crowd of titles where colors are muted and personalities are lacking. In a battle of Rock vs EDM, I?ll side with rock every time!
Note: Sold Out provided us with a No Straight Roads PS4 code for review purposes.