No Straight Roads is a title I spent a lot of time excited for, and was infatuated with the style and concept very early into its reveals. After some delay, the release was very honestly less than what I expected. While it has a lot of love and polish put into some aspects of the game, the rest of it feels like a mishmashed mess that is more frustrating to see than anything else. With many underdeveloped systems as well as generally clucky combat and mechanics, what should be enjoyable fights feel more like a slog to hit the “Continue” button through. The music is phenomenal and a lot of the art is eye catching and well done; but it falls just short of being a good game.
As a massive fan of both rhythm and action games, No Straight Roads immediately caught my attention with its flashy visuals and amazing soundtrack. Just watching the trailers got my blood pumping to play this game. I’ll go so far as to say, the visuals and soundtrack hold up exactly as expected. The environments are incredibly well done and are diverse and fun to walk through. Even though you don’t spend much time walking through each district, seeing the world change from Sayu’s Akiba-esque city to Naturia district is really cool. Small things like the advertisements before each boss fight and the unique color schemes of each district are a nice touch as well, and it’s very obvious to see that there was a lot of love put into the design of this game. The characters are just as colorful as the world they’re in, and while there’s not much NPC dialogue outside of boss fights, everything meshes together in this vibrant world. With the colorful world comes the music, and it is honestly amazing. The idle themes for the hub areas are alright, they don’t really stand out to me personally. The boss themes are on another level, and have gotten stuck in my head well after playing them. Sayu’s theme and DK West’s rap battles are the two that I find myself replaying the most, but every single boss theme is incredibly well done and very memorable.
While the world is vibrant and fun and the music is phenomenal, the combat leaves so much to be desired. It feels like all the effort went into the non-combat parts of the game, while the general combat was just left for last and unfinished. The game puts an emphasis on finding patterns in the beat of the song, since the enemies are supposed to attack on beat, and this is the main loop that the player should be following. The hitboxes don’t feel good at all, and even in the air there were times I was getting hit by ground-pound moves. Some stage built elements play and move on beat, but the enemies are sometimes left to do their own thing. This isn’t to mention the player’s combat options either. There are only two combat options: melee and ranged. There are weapon modifications to allow for special moves, but generally it boils down to the melee combat. The two characters, Mayday and Zuke, have two different combat styles. Mayday is a power hitter, and Zuke is a combo attacker. The post-hit delay on both character’s swings is abysmal, and attempting to get into any sort of flow, with the music or without, is nigh impossible. This was only accentuated by the fact that I had to play on mouse and keyboard, which made the movement feel super clunky. I had tried to plug in controllers, both Xbox One and PS4, to play on PC. It seems it isn’t supported, which is incredibly unfortunate.
All in all, No Straight Roads was really on its way to being a really good game. Unfortunately for those who waited for this game through the delays, I seriously didn’t enjoy most of my time with it, outside of the music. The combat and movement, along with the janky hitboxes and lack of combat depth really put this game down more than a few notches, and is entirely what stopped it from being a good game in my book. While this game might be recalled as a fun time-killer or just for its soundtrack, No Straight Roads doesn’t do anything else phenomenally. I’m really looking forward to Metronomik making a new game with the feedback they received from this game, but until then I’ll have to settle with listening to this soundtrack. I can’t recommend this as a must-play, but I can absolutely support buying the soundtrack as a standalone.
Score: 6 out of 10
Reviewed on Windows 10 PC