No Straight Roads Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch
Wow, what an insane ride that was. No Straight Roads is one of those games you really have to experience to understand what it is trying to do. No matter how many words I stick in this review, no matter what I say, it will still not be able to convey the absolute mind-melting, loud brashness that is No Straight Roads.
The narrative in No Straight Roads is one I can definitely get on board with. In my opinion, the world really needs less EDM and more rock music, of course, that is just me so your connection to this uncanny tale may be different. I have nothing against dance music but rock music is my preference, so I loved it.
In No Straight Roads, Vinyl City runs on music power. Music from artists is converted into energy that powers the citizen's every need. Originally, it was only one artist but the seemingly evil corporation of NSR has changed it to multiple artists from different districts who power the city. This has led to much more energy but there is a seedy undertone of evil to the NSR corporation, who only seem to be looking after themselves.
You play both Mayday and Zuke, who make up the only two band members of the Bunk Bed Junction, the guiding light that is attempting bringing rock music back to Vinyl City and overthrow the evil NSR. The story is an interesting one that perfectly fits the gameplay, it is a story about music, which the gameplay replicates to a perfect beat.
The best way I can describe the gameplay is a mixture of a third-person action game and a brawler all sprinkled with a little touch of Guitar Hero. As you are taking back Vinyl City you go through 3D open areas collecting collectables, talking to NPC's and doing weird and wonderful things. At the end of each of these 'districts', you must take part in a massive boss battle against the musical act from that area.
In between your musical jaunts you can rest up in your underground sewer-cum-lair. Here you can upgrade your skills, tweak your weapons with stickers and mods you have found and talk to various NPC's you have committed to your cause. Every character in No Straight Roads is absurd, vivid and unique and I liked that. It was fun watching your lair evolve and grow as the game progressed.
These boss fights are as outrageous as they are awesome. All completely different, all containing little music-based mini-games and all testing your timing and reflexes. These boss fights all include the simple combat you have been taught earlier in the game but it is how you defeat each unique boss that differs. You must hack, dodge, parry and slash to the music to emerge victorious. I do not want to say too much because these boss fights are the stars of the game and anything I mention will detract from the experience for you.
These bosses cover various musical stereotypes you will have heard of, from virtual acts to young piano-based prodigies. Each boss is a story unto itself and I thoroughly enjoyed working out how to beat each one and emerge victorious. At the end of each one you will be awarded a rank depending on your performance and heres the weird thing, I could not really find a way to fail.
I say this because I died a few times and you can just carry on from exactly where you are. The only thing it affects is your rank, which I am sure, most players will not be that bothered about. That being said, some of the bosses were not easy, so it will be nice for players who are not very good at musical titles or beat-based games to still be able to succeed.
Graphically, No Straight Roads is, in my opinion, very clean and very attractive. It will certainly not be to everyone's tastes but I really liked it. From the comic-style cutscenes, the bright environments and the well-designed characters, everything is crisp, bright and a feast for the eyes. The whole game has a Saturday morning cartoon feel to it and it's unlike anything I have played recently. I admired that.
On the sound front, again, everything was really well made. The soundtrack is great, covering many different styles of music and many different genres. Apart from the sometimes annoying voice of Mayday, I have no issues with the sound design whatsoever. In a game where music is the core feature, in both story and gameplay, the music choice is paramount. I love the way the music is woven directly into the gameplay and boss fights, the majority of the songs were awesome and fit the game style perfectly.
Performance-wise, I had a few hiccups here and there but nothing game-breaking. Sometimes the game would take a little while to register my inputs and sometimes I had a graphical blip but overall the game ran well enough. Hopefully, with a few patches, the game can be made to run better and create a much more rounded experience but it is certainly playable in its current form.