Sunday, 13 September 2020

No Straight Roads Review - A Bumpy Music Adventure

No Straight Roads game Review

The debut work of the Malaysian studio Metronomik touches with cool music but disappoints with controversial gameplay decisions. Read more in the review.

Developer: Metronomik

Publisher: Sold Out Ltd

Release date: 25 August 2020

No Straight Roads is set in Vinyl City, which is steeped in music - there is so much of it that it draws the energy from it that feeds urban areas. The city is run by the NSR Corporation, which determines whose tracks will sound on the streets and squares, and who is not destined to make their way onto the stage.

The local rock group Bunk Bed Junction, consisting of drummer Zook and guitarist Mayday, is not ready to put up with this alignment: this couple is ready to challenge the hated NSR and climb to the top of the music top, leaving behind the dominant EDM artists in it. Playful fate and irrepressible energy of heroes against the resources of a powerful corporation - this fight promises to be spectacular.

No Straight Roads Game Review

To succeed, heroes must conquer areas of the city controlled by local bosses. The gameplay of No Straight Roads is a line of boss fights, between which players get a little respite to explore Vinyl City and level up characters.

And the bosses here are awesome. The first is an EDM musician obsessed with space: the battle with him takes place in a huge planetarium, where the characters have to knock out notes from rotating planets and launch them at the enemy. The second boss is a virtual pop singer, clearly written off from Hatsune Miku: to defeat her, Meidei and Zuku will have to go to cyberspace. There is also a battle with a hip-hop performer, a meeting with a boy band, and even a battle between rock and classical music.

Each such fight is furnished with fantasy, impresses with a cool soundtrack (I wanted to keep the tracks from No Straight Roads in my playlist), and the concept of the game and its bully style reminded me of the iconic Scott Pilgrim.

However, the gameplay outside of boss fights is not as exciting. It consists of several parts: base management, city exploration, and battles with NSR followers.

At the base, heroes can relax, improve their abilities (due to the number of fans - a local analogue of the experience and levels of characters), install mods, and consumables. However, I did not manage to find any practical benefit from pumping: the battles are already easy, and the enemies successfully latch on with basic attacks. By the way, Mayday and Zook are slightly different from each other: the girl hits hard with her guitar, and the guy relies on combos. In a single-player game, you can freely switch between them, and in co-op, each player takes on the role of a separate character.

After getting out of the sewers, where the headquarters of Bunk Bed Junction is located, players set off to explore the urban areas. “Explore” is a loud saying, because each district is a miserable pair of streets with NPCs and scattered energy cells; the latter can be used to light lanterns and run vending machines, thereby increasing the number of fans of the group.

Before the battle with the boss, the characters will have to make a short run to his shelter in a location filled with robots and other opponents. Here No Straight Roads can't decide what it wants to be - a platformer, a rhythm game or a beat'em'up, and as a result, elements of all these genres are performed equally poorly. Heroes constantly jump not where the player directs them, and fall into the abyss; enemies act to the beat of the music, but not uniformly and this is confusing; fights do not pose a serious challenge, and pumping is, in fact, useless.

The project leaves mixed impressions, but they are rather positive. There are great jokes, an interesting concept and catchy soundtrack, spectacular boss battles, and a bright visual style. The authors tried to stretch the time of the game, filling it with filler episodes, and they did not manage to fully realize their plans. However, if you want to immerse yourself in a fun musical adventure, No Straight Roads is sure to please.

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