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E3 2017: Sony’s Strong Showing Sadly Lacked Surprises

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When it comes to E3 conferences, Sony has well and truly backed themselves into a corner in recent years. From killing the Xbox One before it was even released in 2013, to a continuous stream of blockbuster, show-stealing announcements in each of the years that followed, they’ve been bringing their A game for the entire generation so far. In the streaming era, Sony has successfully transformed what it means to have a compelling E3 conference, culminating in last year’s orchestra-backed spectacular that was widely regarded as one of – if not the – best E3 conference of all time. So how do you follow that up?

The answer is, as evidenced by their conference last night, you don’t. When you keep raising the bar, sooner or later you can’t raise it any higher, and that’s the situation that Sony found themselves in last night. Sony delivered a strong conference at E3 2017 chock full of impressive exclusives – but with precious little in the way of games announced to be coming this year, and with a distinct lack of surprises in comparison to years previous, it’s easy to see why some may feel underwhelmed by what was shown. In all but name, Sony’s E3 2017 conference was a sequel to their 2016 presser, complete with updates to most of the big games they showed off at that event, but never managing to top the original.

It was apparent right from the get-go that Sony had been paying attention to the popularity of their conference last year, as this one was, structurally, almost a carbon copy. Shawn Layden was the only executive on stage, and he turned up only a handful of times throughout the entire presentation, with none of the rest of the usual cast of characters like Andrew House or Shuhei Yoshida showing their faces at all. Whether this approach feels hands off and impersonal, or if you appreciate the fast pace of the show Sony puts on is largely down to personal preference, but for my money, the barrage of trailers is far more compelling than getting some guy on stage to show off a car, or hosting an interview with Pele to pad out the running time. We’re here for games, and Sony’s relentless approach to these conferences is certainly much appreciated as far as I’m concerned.

The action packed trailer for The Lost Legacy seemed to indicate that the Uncharted series will have no problem going on without Nathan Drake in the lead.

Kicking things off this year, we had a live band to provide some Eastern-influenced music to lead us into a ludicrous trailer for Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, which is coming to PS4 this summer. Showing a lot more of the story and things blowing up than we saw back at PlayStation Experience in December, The Lost Legacy looks to continue the trend of incredible graphical fidelity and jaw-dropping set-pieces that the series is famed for. It looks like everything you’d want from an Uncharted game, all for the very attractive price of $40.

Next came story DLC for one of 2017s best games, Horizon: Zero Dawn, in the form of The Frozen Wilds, also slated for release this year. Continuing the story of Aloy, and appearing to take place after the ending of the vanilla game, the DLC involves some sort of fantastically terrifying robot dinosaur living on a snowy mountain that no doubt needs to be taught a valuable lesson in being dead at the hands of everyone’s new favourite ginger-haired PlayStation mascot.

Speaking of gingers, Days Gone was the red-headed stepchild of Sony’s conference last year, seen by most as the weakest link in an incredibly strong line-up of game reveals. It wasn’t that it looked bad, per se, but rather that we’re all, like, so totally over zombies, man. The 2017 showing of Sony Bend’s open world game was far more compelling, showcasing a varied approach to gameplay and some impressive action, that looked like a happy centre-point on the hypothetical Venn diagram for Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last of Us, and Sons of Anarchy.

Alright, settle down, lads.

In a cool moment, our biker hero used C4 to destroy one of the external walls of an enemy encampment, allowing dozens of frenzied zombies to storm the stronghold, while he hid behind a log presumably feeling very proud of himself. The sheer number of zombies on screen at any one time is a laudable technical feat, and while this writer’s boredom with zombies is second only to his utter contempt for the proliferation of open world games, Days Gone looks like it might have just enough tricks up its sleeve to warrant a little more attention than it first appeared.

It was at this point that Shawn Layden turned up to remind us that this was an E3 press conference and not just a stream of trailers, but beyond telling us how awesome PlayStation is, he needn’t have bothered getting suited up. He quickly abandoned the stage to make way for our first surprise of the conference, namely Capcom’s Monster Hunter World, coming 2018. Monster Hunter is a franchise with a serious cult following, and World looked to be above and beyond what the series has delivered so far in the name of the hunt. While there’s no doubt that there was a bunch of people around the globe doing an Irish jig in their living rooms at the very thought of Monster Hunter on PS4, for somebody who knows even less about the series than I know about basketball, it wasn’t quite the home run announcement that we’ve seen in previous years.

Coming somewhat out of left field, the next announcement was more of a touchdown; a remake of Shadow of the Colossus. Shadow of the Colossus is legit one of the greatest games ever made, and my jaw was firmly on the floor seeing a glorious re-imagining of the PlayStation 2 classic on PS4. If there’s a downside to seeing Colossus on PS4, it’s that the 2018 release date seems difficult to take seriously given the tortured route to release that The Last Guardian took. It looks amazing, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s as likely to come out in 2018 as it is to land in 2028. Still, it was a lovely surprise in the vein of the Crash Bandicoot revival seen at last year’s show.

Fair play, Sony. Didn’t see this one coming.

Next, we saw a story trailer for Marvel vs Capcom Infinite, which appears to be taking a leaf out of the Injustice playbook and giving us one big superhero story rather than individual tales for each character. The roster of characters shown seems fairly robust, and seeing Rocket Raccoon using Dante from Devil May Cry’s dual-pistols was a treat. It’s nice to see Mega Man in high-definition, CG glory, too.

Call of Duty: WWII arrived to remind us all that blowing shit up real good is even more awesome when you’re sticking it to Hitler’s boys in the name of freedom. The trailer didn’t exactly do anything new for the franchise, but then if you were expecting anything new from Call of Duty I don’t know what to tell you. You’re gonna get a bunch of macho men shooting, stabbing, and exploding their way through eight hours of cheesy heroics, and on that front WWII looks like it’ll deliver. For what it’s worth, I’ve always thought that the campaigns of these games are fairly strong, and so while the multiplayer community for the games might be made up almost entirely out of nasty people who have, apparently, had relations with my mother, the single player portion shown here at least seems to be worth a look.

It was the obligatory PlayStation VR section next, indicated by a short video showing off Sony’s headset, as humans were apparently banned from appearing on stage more than once in a thirty minute period. There were a bunch of VR games debuted here, including the whimsical looking Star Child and Moss, the most generic looking and named game ever in the shooter, Bravo Team, and Square Enix’s latest unnecessary addition to Final Fantasy XV – a first person, VR fishing mode named Monster of the Deep. The bright spots were The Inpatient – a brand new virtual reality experience from Supermassive, the developer behind the superb PS4 exclusive, Until Dawn – and the surprise announcement of Skyrim VR, making Nintendo Switch’s version of the five year old RPG seem even more irrelevant than it already did.

That was it for VR, and it was time to see what Kratos is up to in the new God of War. I was rather hoping he’d have calmed down in his old age, and perhaps he’d be spending his retirement watching reruns of Columbo and doing crossword puzzles, but it appears that you can’t teach an old god new tricks, and he’s still kicking the lips off of anyone and everyone with reckless abandon. The tone and the story seem to be a little more grounded this time around, but the action appears every bit as brutal as fans of the series are used to. We see Kratos using his axe to divorce numerous monsters from their lower halves, and then potentially striking up some sort of alliance with a giant, bearded, snake thing – presumably so they can go kill a bunch of baddies as an incredibly angry tag-team. All hopes of this one landing in November this year were dashed when the words “early 2018” appeared on screen, but despite the disappointment some may feel, it makes the most sense for Sony to hit this window, which has proved fruitful for other exclusives like Bloodborne and Horizon in the past.

Kratos has finally developed the ability to show an emotion other than rage. He’s also just started listening to The Cure.

Detroit: Become Human had another interesting trailer, further detailing the political implications of creating artificially intelligent slaves like we’ve seen in so many stories before. It beggars belief that people are still thinking it’s a good idea to create AI beings given how many sci-fi stories have acutely demonstrated just what a disaster that can be, but then it’s nice to see Quantic Dream tackling the story in a way that appears to be sympathetic to synthetic life. I’m hoping that Detroit delves deep into the politics and the philosophical quandaries at the heart of creating life, and doesn’t fall into the Heavy Rain trap of burying what could be an interesting narrative in meaningless action sequences and people taking their clothes off for no discernible reason.

Destiny 2 was up next because it’s now been made illegal for Sony to put on an E3 press conference without Destiny showing up. For what it’s worth, it looks like Destiny 2 actually has a story this time around, which is a marked improvement on the first game’s Dinklage-led narrative dud. Hopefully they’ll give players a genuine reason to shoot things in the face for hundreds of hours in the much-anticipated sequel, and by players, I mean players who aren’t me, because the chances of me buying Destiny 2 are somewhere between no hope and Bob Hope. At least I’m honest. I just can’t face another permanently online shooter when I’ve still not played games like Breath of the Wild or Nier Automata.

Somebody then went and reminded Shawn Layden that it was time to stop knocking back cosmopolitans backstage, and that the show was about to come to an end, so he walked out one last time to thank us all for watching, and to get in a not so subtle dig at Microsoft by mentioning how many “true exclusives” they’d shown off during the conference. As he left the stage, he told us there’d be just one more demo, leading into the first proper gameplay footage of PS4 exclusive Spider-Man.

Autoglass now fix broken windshields and sun-rooves while you’re on the go.

We got a ten minute look at Insomniac’s take on Spider-Man, showing off a couple of villains, plenty of swinging about, and an awful lot of people getting kicked in the face. The combat looks fluid, like a more cinematic version of the rhythmic battle system seen in the Arkham series, while traversal around the game world looks like a blast. Speaking of blasts, Insomniac has obviously been playing the Uncharted series, because half of the time spent showing off the web-slinger’s PS4 debut was stuff spectacularly exploding and collapsing around the teen superhero in a series of increasingly ridiculous set-pieces. The sequences on display here were incredible, but one wonders just what the moment to moment gameplay of the title will involve when away from the heavily scripted sections like this. Regardless, Spider-Man really looked like something special, with the only sour note to the ten minute gameplay demo being the announcement of a 2018 release date.

And that was that. All over for another year.

While I’ve no doubt that many people will be upset by the relative lack of brand new games on display in Sony’s conference, and that’s a position that is understandable given the high bar that they set for themselves over the last few years, the real story here was in Shawn Layden’s comment during his third and final appearance on the stage. He used the phrase “true exclusive” and it couldn’t be any more obvious as to the intent. Both Sony and Microsoft saved their most impressive demonstrations for last in their respective conferences – Anthem and Spider-Man – but while both of those games will be on PS4, only one of them will be on Xbox One. That’s a pattern that was shown throughout both conferences as a whole, and the biggest problem that Microsoft faces going forward.

Anthem is a brand new Xbox One X exclusive*. (*Also on Xbox One S, Xbox One, PS4 Pro, PS4, PS4 Slim, and PC.)

Microsoft’s conference used confusing language to conflate how many exclusive games they had coming up on Xbox One – 22, they said! – when in reality they actually showed no true exclusive games whatsoever. Even if you consider Microsoft’s first party games to be exclusives despite the fact that they all appear on PC, the vast majority of the games they showed will, at some point, be on PS4. By comparison, Sony had God of War, Detroit: Become Human, Spider-Man, Uncharted, Horizon, Days Gone, Shadow of the Colossus, as well as no-shows like Gran Turismo, Matterfall and Ni No Kuni II all being confirmed to be coming in 2017 off-stage. With all that, as well as games we know are coming like Death Stranding, The Last of Us Part II, Dreams (?!), Final Fantasy VII, Shenmue, and the plethora of third party offerings, the future looks very bright indeed for PlayStation gamers.

Even when they’re having an off day, the strength of PlayStation’s first party studios is simply too much for Microsoft to overcome. Sony’s conference was a notable step-down from last year, but given that Microsoft’s show was largely an advertisement for games you can also play on your PS4 alongside a definitive failure to make any compelling case for the $499 and awkwardly named Xbox One X whatsoever, it’s difficult to chalk this one up as anything other than an E3 win for Sony once again.

Still, it’s a mildly disappointing win nonetheless. With rumoured titles like Bloodborne 2 and whatever Sucker Punch is working on never materialising, and 2018 release dates for almost all of PlayStation 4’s upcoming heavy hitters, Sony, much like Microsoft earlier in the week, has delivered a showcase that wasn’t up the standard of previous years. If Nintendo turn up later today with two new Metroid games, a virtual store that doesn’t suck, and a free Star Fox game to say sorry for Zero last year, they could potentially steal this one. I wouldn’t bet on it, though.

John can generally be found wearing Cookie Monster pyjamas with a PlayStation controller in his hands, operating on a diet that consists largely of gin and pizza. His favourite things are Back to the Future, Persona 4 Golden, the soundtrack to Rocky IV, and imagining scenarios in which he's drinking space cocktails with Commander Shepard. You can follow John on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JohnDoesntDance

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PAX South 2020 Hands On: ‘The Artful Escape,’ ‘Foregone,’ and ‘Tunic’

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PAX South

This past weekend, PAX South 2020 brought a huge variety of promising indie games to the show floor in San Antonio. Here are just a few of the most remarkable games I got to try, including a hardcore action game, a classic adventure, and an experience that can only be described as dreamlike.

Tunic

Simply put, Tunic is a Zelda game, but foxier. Tunic takes significant inspiration from the classic Zelda formula, complete with an overworld to explore, puzzles to solve, enemies to fight, and a protagonist clad in green. My demo even began by leaving me weaponless and forcing me to venture into a nearby cave in order to discover my first weapon.

Yet there’s nothing wrong with following such a traditional formula. At a time when Nintendo has largely stopped creating new games in the style of its classic Zeldas, it’s left up to other developers to rediscover the magic of the original gameplay style. Based on my time with the game, Tunic achieves exactly that, reimagining the charm of A Link to the Past for the current generation with gorgeous visuals and modern design sensibilities. The biggest difference from its predecessors is its green-clad hero is a fox, and not a Kokiri.

All, that is to say, is that if you’ve ever played a 2D Zelda, then you’ll know exactly what to expect from Tunic. It starts by dropping the foxy little player character into a vibrant, sunny overworld, and true to form, your inventory is completely empty and the environment is full of roadblocks to progress. Simple enemies abound, and although its greatest Zelda inspirations lie with those from the 2D era, it also includes an element from the 3D games due to its inclusion of a targeting system in order to lock onto specific opponents. What followed next was a linear, straightforward dungeon that focused on teaching the basics of exploration and item usage. It was extremely simple but hinted at plenty of potential for the full game later.

Tunic’s gameplay may hearken back to the games of old, but its visual presentation is cutting edge. It features gorgeous polygonal 3D visuals, loaded with striking graphical and lighting effects, making its quaint isometric world truly pop to life. My demo didn’t last very long, but the little bit I played left me excited for Tunic’s eventual release on Xbox One and PC. It could be the brand-new classic Zelda experience that fans like myself have long waited for.

Foregone

Foregone

These days, nearly every other indie game is either a roguelike or a Metroivdvania. Just by looking at Foregone, I immediately assumed that it must be one of the two based on appearances alone. Yet when I shared those assumptions with the developers, Big Blue Bubble, the response in both cases was a resounding, “No.”

Foregone may look like it could be procedurally generated or feature a sprawling interconnected world, but that simply isn’t the case. The developers insisted that every aspect of the game world was intentionally crafted by hand, and it will remain that way in each playthrough. Likewise, although there is some optional backtracking at certain points in the game, Foregone is a largely linear experience, all about going from one point to another and adapting your strategy along the way. In a generation where nonlinearity reigns supreme, such straightforward design is refreshing to see.

If there’s any game that seems like an accurate comparison to Foregone, it would have to be Dark Souls. From the very start of the demo, the world of Foregone is inhabited with fearsome enemies that don’t hold back. If you don’t watch what you’re doing, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and fall under the pressure. Thankfully, there’s a broad assortment of abilities at your disposal, such as a wide area of effect move that can stun enemies within a wide radius, and a powerful shield that can block many attacks. I fell many times during my time with the game, but it never felt unfair. Rather, it merely felt like I wasn’t being smart enough with my own ability usage, and I was encouraged to keep jumping back into the world for just one more run, this time armed with better knowledge of my own abilities and potential strategies.

And it’s a beautiful game too. Rather than featuring the typical pixelated aesthetics often associated with platformers, the world is actually built-in 3D with a pixelated filter applied on top of it. This allows for a uniquely detailed environment and distinctly fluid animations. Foregone looks to be a worthwhile action game that should be worth checking out when it hits early access via the Epic Games Store in February, with a full release on console and PC to follow later this year.

The Artful Escape

Bursting with visual and auditory splendor, The Artful Escape is easily the most surreal game I played at PAX South. The demo may have only lasted about ten minutes, yet those ten minutes were dreamlike, transportation from the crowded convention to a world of color, music, and spirit.

As its name would suggest, The Artful Escape is an otherworldly escape from reality. Its luscious 3D environments are populated with 2D paper cutout characters, its dialogue leans heavily into the mystical (the player character describes his surroundings with phrases like “a Tchaikovsky cannonade” and “a rapid glittering of the eyes”), and its music often neglects strong melodies in favor of broad, ambient background themes. This all combines to create a mystical, almost meditative atmosphere.

It only helps that the platforming gameplay itself is understated, not requiring very much of you but to run forward, leap over a few chasms, or occasionally play your guitar to complete basic rhythm games. This gameplay style may not be the most involved or exciting, but it allows you to focus primarily on the overwhelming aesthetic majesty, marching forward through the world while shredding on your guitar all the while.

This Zenlike feel to the game is punctuated with occasional spectacular moments. At one point, a gargantuan, crystalline krill called the Wonderkrill burst onto the screen and regaled me with mystic dialogue, while at another point, I silently wandered into a herd of strange oxen-like creatures grazing in a barren field as the music began to swell. The demo was filled with such memorable moments, constantly leaving my jaw dropped.

For those who think that games should be entertaining above all else, The Artful Escape might not be so enthralling. Its platforming is extremely basic and its rhythm minigames are shallow at best. For players who think that games can be more than fun, however, The Artful Escape is set to provide an emotional, unforgettable experience, an escape that I can’t wait to endeavor.

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PAX South Hands On: ‘Boyfriend Dungeon’ Wields Weapons of Love

A weapon is an adventurer’s best friend, and Boyfriend Dungeon is focused on deepening that relationship.

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Boyfriend Dungeon

In most games, weapons are straightforward objects. Sometimes they can be upgraded or personalized, but at the end of the day, they function as little more than tools for a single purpose: to cut down enemies and make progress in the game. Boyfriend Dungeon, however, proposes a different relationship with your weapons. They’re more than just objects. Instead, they’re eligible bachelors and bachelorettes that are ready to mingle.

Boyfriend Dungeon is a dungeon crawler and dating sim hybrid all about forging an intimate bond with your weapons and, after demoing it at PAX South, this unique mix seems to be paying off.

There are two main activities in Boyfriend Dungeon: exploring the loot-filled dungeons (referred to as “The Dunj”) and romancing the human forms of your weapons. There’s been plenty of great dungeon crawlers in recent years, but Boyfriend Dungeon sets itself apart by humanizing its weaponry. This concept may sound strange on paper, but Kitfox games director and lead designer Tanya X. Short is confident that players have long been ready for a game just like this.

“A weapon is an adventurer’s best friend,” and Boyfriend Dungeon is focused on deepening that relationship.

“I think the fans of Boyfriend Dungeon have been out there for years, waiting. I remember when I was in university ages ago, I was sure someone would have made a game like this already… but I guess I needed to make it myself!” She adds that “A weapon is an adventurer’s best friend,” and Boyfriend Dungeon is focused on deepening that relationship.

Boyfriend Dungeon

My demo with Boyfriend Dungeon began simply enough. After a brief character creation phase where I chose my appearance and my pronouns (he/him, she/her, or they/them), I was dropped into the stylish, top-down hub world of Verona Beach. Here I could explore the town and choose where to date my chosen weapon. I decided to head to the public park to meet Valeria, a swift and slender dagger.

“Today I’m writing dates with a scythe, and that’s beautiful.”

Upon reaching the park, I discovered Valeria in her dagger form. When I picked up the weapon, a beautiful anime-style animation commenced in which she transformed into her human form. What followed was a visual novel-style date sequence complete with detailed character art and plenty of dialogue options to help romance your date.

The dialogue is full of witty, self-aware humor and charm – there were more than a few jokes about axe murderers along with other weapon-related puns, for example. Short herself put plenty of love into the writing. “Writing dates with weapons is a joy I never knew could be part of my job, but here we are. Today I’m writing dates with a scythe, and that’s beautiful.”

Boyfriend Dungeon

I loved my date with Valeria, but she’s not the only potential mate in Boyfriend Dungeon. Rather, there’s a cast of five potential partners in the game, each of them hailing from distinct backgrounds and identities. “When I was coming up with the cast for Boyfriend Dungeon, I tried to imagine as many kinds of people and personalities that I could be attracted to as possible.”

Short drew from her own personal experiences in creating the cast. “I was very lucky to meet my partner many years ago, so I haven’t actually dated many people in my life, but I become fascinated with people I meet very easily, and they can provide inspiration. Whether they’re upbeat and reckless, or brooding and poetic, or gentle and refined…there’re so many kinds of intriguing people out there. And in Boyfriend Dungeon, I hope.”

After building up this bond during dialogue, it was time to put it to the test by exploring the Dunj. Of course, this isn’t the typically dreary dungeon found in most other dungeon crawlers. Instead, it’s an abandoned shopping mall overrun with monsters to slay and loot to discover with your partner weapon.  

Boyfriend Dungeon

Combat is easy to grasp, focusing on alternating between light and heavy attacks and creating simple combos out of them. Just like how the dating content aims to be inclusive for people of different backgrounds, Short hopes for the combat to be accessible for players of different levels of experience as well. “Hopefully the dungeon combat can be approachable enough for less experienced action RPG players, but still have enough challenge for the people that want to find it.”

Based off the demo, Boyfriend Dungeon seems to achieve this goal. I loved learning simpler moves and discovering new combos with them. Movement is fast, fluid, and intuitive, making it a pleasure to explore the Dunj. Succeeding in dungeons will also result in a stronger relationship with your weapons, so it’s in your best interest to perform well during combat. Of course, your weapons don’t simply level up – instead, their love power increases.

An arcade environment

“Our approach has been that the point isn’t the destination — it’s the journey you take, and who you choose to take it with.”

Fighting and dating may seem like two disparate concepts, but in practice, they manage to mesh surprisingly well. “The game is mostly about switching from one [gameplay style] to the other,” Short says, “and it’s nice for pacing, since you often want a breather from the action or get restless if there’s too much reading.”

The overarching story and general experience remain relatively firm throughout the whole game regardless of your decisions, but Short encourages players to enjoy the ride they take with the weapon they choose. “Our approach has been that the point isn’t the destination — it’s the journey you take, and who you choose to take it with.”

In Boyfriend Dungeon, your weapons can wage more than just war. Rather, they can spread love and lead to deeply fulfilling relationships. Boyfriend Dungeon is one of the most refreshing games I played at PAX thanks to its engaging dungeon exploration and combat and its surprisingly positive view of weaponry. That’s the mission of peace that Short had in mind with the game: “It feels like a difficult time in the world right now, but that’s when we most need to find love and compassion. Let’s try our hardest to be kind.”

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‘Sayonara Wild Hearts’ is the Rhythm Game of a Lifetime

Few Rhythm games can boast the sheer strength and variety of gameplay and stellar soundtrack that Sayonara Wild Hearts offers the player.

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Sayonara Wild Hearts

Rhythm games can sometimes be a dicy prospect. As well populated as the genre is, the possible variety in musical style, required skill set and game length can make it hard to parse whether a rhythm game will be a good fit for an individual player. With that in mind, few rhythm games nail all of these attributes as perfectly as Sayonara Wild Hearts does.

A neon-drenched fever dream of a game, Sayonara Wild Hearts tasks the player with driving, flying and sailing through an increasingly elaborate world of giant robots, sword battles and laser fights. In this ethereal plain you battle other wild hearts as you seek solace from a broken heart and navigate around the obstacles of each course.

Though this may already sound very gnarly, or even radical, if you will, what really makes Sayonara Wild Hearts work so well is the diversity of of its levels. Some stages will see you weaving in and out of traffic while dodging oncoming street cars and the like, while others will see you navigating a ship across storm drenched waters or working your way through a retro inspired shooter. There’s even a first person level that calls to mind old school PC classics like Descent

Sayonara Wild Hearts

It’s really something to see so much variety packed into a game that it nearly defies classification as a result. Few games can offer the depth and breadth of gameplay that Sayonara Wild Hearts does, and that’s part of its enduring charm.

Of course, a rhythm game is only as good as its soundtrack. Luckily Sayonara Wild Hearts soars in this regard as well. The soundtrack contains pulse-pounding beats by Daniel Olsén and Jonathan Eng, with dreamy pop vocals by Linnea Olsson. Inspired by the likes of Sia and Chvrches, the killer soundscape of the game will keep you powering through time and again in hopes of attaining the ever elusive perfect run. A rank system and collectibles keep things interesting as well.

The unique look of the game is another feather in its cap. Pulsing neon lights pump to the beat while pinks, purples and blues color the world around you in a unique 1980’s dance club aesthetic. All of the elements coalesce together to make a game that looks and feels like nothing else you’ve ever played.

Sayonara Wild Hearts

As mentioned at the top, sometimes rhythm games live or die based on their difficulty and accessibility. Fortunately Sayonara Wild Hearts manages to nail this aspect of gaming too. All you need to do to pass a level is get a Bronze ranking, which is attainable even for those of low skill sets. My 5 and 6 year old daughters were able to beat several of the levels, even some of the harder ones. Better still, less skilled players can skip the more challenging areas of the later levels with a prompt that comes up automatically when a player fails three times in a row.

With a stellar attention to all of the aspects that make for a successful rhythm game, Sayonara Wild Hearts is the rhythm game of a lifetime. Destined to be listed among the best games of 2019, and in the company of the best rhythm games of all time, Sayonara Wild Hearts is revolutionary entry into the genre and one of the best indies to come along in years.

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