Jam out and resurrect rock n’ roll in No Straight Roads, a music game that doesn’t make players rely on rhythm to win.
Since the decline of music-rhythm games, there haven’t been many titles that lean heavily on music or make it the main focus. No Straight Roads is working to change that in a cool refreshing way. The story, characters, and, of course, music revolve solely around it. Unlike other rhythm-based games, you don’t have to stay on the beat to be successful. Naturally, it helps but is not a requirement for those players that find keeping time difficult. The gameplay is fun and relatively simplistic with great charm, but I’m curious as to how it will evolve as the game progresses.
In No Straight Roads, musicians are goliaths being some of the most important people in Vinyl City. Through the company No Straight Roads, musicians use their talent to power up the city. The heroes who call themselves Bunk Bed Junction include Mayday with her handy guitar and Zuke with his banging drumsticks. Both audition to be a part of the energy company through the power of rock n’ roll which is considered a long-abandoned art in the city. After the audition, the council of NSR rejects them due to the popularity of EDM (electronic dance music). Due to their rejection, the band decides to speak with popular artists to help convince the council that rock is relevant and let them join NSR.
No Straight Roads is an action-adventure title incorporating hack and slash gameplay. Additionally, there are music notes that can be picked up allowing you to shoot enemies from afar. After defeating enemies or meeting a certain objective a chest appears. If you play music around it, it will open up potentially helping players during fights.
Mayday and Zuke have their own health bars and you are able to switch in between each character freely. While playing as one character the other character’s health will regenerate until full or once you switch them back in. My only gripe is that whichever one you’re not using doesn’t do anything outside of following you, at least from what I noticed.
The first part of my demo pertained to Mayday and Zuke’s audition which was a tutorial to set up the story and understand the mechanics. After I finished, I was immediately brought to a boss fight against DJ Subatomic Supanova.
If the boss fights in the full game follow suit with what I played, then you can expect them to be pretty great. The fight had four different phases beginning with him jamming out at his setup. I was on the ground along with disco balls spinning around like a record. As the battle progressed it looked as if I was fighting in space with the disco balls now being planets. Supanova attacks by spinning specific sections of the circle you’re walking on to try and hit you with one of the planets. Later on, he kept me even more on my toes as he threw meteorites as well.
While the fight is relatively straightforward, the atmosphere is breathtaking at times and I love the aesthetic. The final phase included the parrying mechanic. Familiar in titles with the same ability, if you press the parry button at the right time before being hit, the attack redirects. Attacks that can be countered are colored in pink. Coming from a musician with over a decade of experience, you’d think that with this being a rhythm game the attack would be on or off the beat, but that’s not how it seems. I had troubles at first because the music wasn’t much of a guide on when to parry. Eventually, I relied on executing my counters visually instead of musically.
There is a lot more that I want to learn about No Straight Roads. I’m curious as to how Vinyl City got to the point it is at. Why does music power the city? Is the same case around the world? Is there a bigger threat that has yet to be established? I don’t expect a largely narrative-driven game, but I hope there are enough details told throughout to invest me in the world that the team at Metronomik is creating.
No Straight Roads will release in 2020 on PS4 and PC exclusively for one year on the Epic Games Store.