Sadly, the rhythm game genre is not what it once was, so when a new one comes out, it garners attention. In No Straight Roads, music is the focus, as the main theme is EDM versus rock. At E3 2019, developer Metronomik was kind enough to let us try a demo for its upcoming game. Seeing as how music games hit hard with me, I felt right at home while playing.
The setting is Vinyl City, a place overrun with Electronic Dance Music. It’s up to Mayday and Zuke to take back rock music and cleanse the city of the evils of EDM. While talking with the co-founder of Metronomik and lead game designer of Final Fantasy XV, Wan Hazmer, I learned that the idea of EDM versus rock is something that the developers themselves deal with, with the main point being that rock is dead, kind of. Interestingly, though, Hazmer is a big EDM fan, and the composer has a broader view on the music.
The first thing you might notice is the style, which is reminiscent of something like Gitaroo Man or Space Channel 5. Both Mayday and Zuke are a part of the indie rock band Bunk Bed Junction and must use the power of rock to eliminate Tatiana, leader of the NSR (No Straight Roads) record label.
The gameplay itself is a mixture of timing-based button prompts with some light platforming and attacking. It’s a great blend of real time action and stationary gameplay you’d normally see in music rhythm games. What’s really cool is the diversity in the combat. You can swap characters on the fly, with Mayday battling it out using a guitar, and Zuke using drums. Each character has different attacks and depending on the various upgrades you have, can be used in a number of different ways.
E3 2019 No Straight Roads Preview – Rock is Not Dead
On the surface, No Straight Roads might seem like a basic music rhythm game, but it’s got a surprising amount of depth. I only scratched the surface during the E3 demo, but I was told there will be a ton to do.
What’s really fun is the amount of strategy needed to overcome specific sections. The boss I faced wasn’t too tough, but knowing when to swap characters, when to dodge attacks, and which items to use came in handy significantly. While playing as Zuke, you can lay down a drumset that shoots beams at the enemy. And Mayday can use melee attacks along with her guitar blasts to cause damage, too.
In between bosses, you’ll find 3D exploration much like what you’d find in a mascot platformer, with a hub world and all.
But most importantly, No Straight Roads shines in its music. Having good music doesn’t go hand-in-hand with being a music game, so it just adds to the enjoyment when playing through this game. What’s fascinating is that the soundtrack combines EDM and rock, but as you damage bosses, rock starts to overtake the soundtrack and it’s done so in such an elegant way.
The composer had to get creative when effectively blending the two genres. They don’t exactly mix well without some effort on the musician’s side, so the fact that it works the way it does is impressive. That of course, is a metaphor for the entire concept of the game: bringing rock back.
If you’re in the mood for a quirky music game with a personality, No Straight Roads might be for you. Its art, music, style, and gameplay are top-notch, making this one an easy one to watch out for. Currently, No Straight Roads is expected to launch on PS4 and elsewhere in 2020.