When I saw the trailer for No Straight Roads I was sold pretty quickly. With its bright colours, promise of rhythm action, and the idea of it having no straight roads, I was eager to check this bad boy out.
It turns out the game is a pretty straight road, but that’s not a bad thing.
Don’t You Worry Child
The game kicks off with Mayday and Zuke taking their music to the corporation NSR. After completing the trials and beating some action challenges with their rock jams they are told they aren’t good enough because rock is dead, with EDM now reigning king.
They leave angry and disheartened because music literally powers Vinyl City. With the stale EDM they are seeing the power disappear, sitting only with the rich and powerful. This sets them off to beat a lot of EDM artists and power the city for everybody.
It’s not the most creative story but hey, it’s fun enough for a platformer.
There are two things that No Straight Roads does well, the music and the visual style. The music has a whole bunch of rock and EDM tracks that are fantastic. It’s a good thing I was reviewing the Razer Kraken X headset at the time, because it gave me an excuse to block out the outside world and chill listening to the music.
The visual style is the other area the game excelles in and it fits so damn well with the music. The world is colourfully beautiful, the characters are built creatively unique, and it is such a treat to look at. Seeing Vinyl City light up throughout the game never disappointed, even if some other parts of the game did.
The big hook of the game, and the tutorial tells you, is the rhythmic action. Supposedly enemies attack to the music’s rhythm but that equates to the enemies making a sound as they attack. I never felt like I was moving to the rhythm, and found the game a lot easier when I watched for the characters’ visual attack queues.
Annoyingly if the game didn’t push its rhythm action so much this wouldn’t have been a problem. Playing a reasonably fun action game with an awesome look and even better soundtrack would have been enough, but I kept trying to use the rhythm when I played because it is so prominent, and that holds the game back.
For the most part the game is a stylistic action platformer. I wish it had been plainly billed that way.
One More Time
Not everything in the game has been built to perfection. The biggest annoyance for me was the lack of auto saving. When you beat a boss you get a score sheet and then continue the story. Twice I beat a boss, moved past the score sheet, put the game into standby, and when my son played Minecraft I was back at the start of the boss.
Every game with a level score sheet autosaves at that point so it is infuriating.
The other issue is the gameplay is a little clunky. Rhythms with countering took ages to get the hang of and the landing box never felt right. The game is easily fun enough even with the limitations, but it’s still a thing.
Eyes on Fire
Despite its flaws, and there are a few, No Straight Roads is an experience for the eyes and ears well worth experiencing. The music and games style easily make it a worthwhile experience, even if the technical elements fall flat occasionally.