No Straight Roads Review — Rock Rules
No Straight Roads brings you nearly 6 hours of non-stop fun and rock with some moral advice on respecting every music taste.
No Straight Roads
PC, Switch, Xbox One
3D Platformer, Action, Indie, Rhythm
Review copy provided by the publisher
It’s a little bit hard to categorize No Straight Roads in a single genre as it almost has a part of everything in its gameplay, which isn’t bad at all. No Straight Roads is more like a fast-paced musical tournament, filled with several consecutive boss fights that will undoubtedly remind you of Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim ss. The World movie. As such, it’s really tough not to love this game.
For everyone who loves rock music, No Straight Roads could turn into a non-stop experience. The gameplay elements, visuals, surprising worlds and bosses ahead, and the rhythm aspect of the game all work together to encourage you to not to put the controller aside for even a minute — and it succeeds.
“For everyone who loves rock music, No Straight Roads could turn into a non-stop experience.”
If you ask me, having some brilliant quest designers behind the game is the key to such success. As I mentioned before, all quests in No Straight Roads are a boss fight. What makes it unquestionably enjoyable is the huge variety of changes that occur in every aspect of the game during each fight. New bosses are not just new faces with bigger health bars, they move in a new way, they fight in a new way, and they make you play in a new way, which is the most important part.
Encountering different boss fights with various playstyles is a positive thing in every video game, but it turns into a huge success when it dictates the way you change your way of fighting as well. That’s likely one of the reasons why every title from Hidetaka Miyazaki turns into an extremely engaging experience that you just can’t get enough of.
At its core, No Straight Roads is a hack and slash with some RPG elements, but when it comes to the action, you’ll have to overcome some platforming challenges and deal with some extraordinary situations.
Your mission in the game is to hijack the concerts of six distinct musicians in Vinyl City. Each boss owns a different district with a unique design that suits well into his/her music taste. Of course, the districts aren’t more than a few blocks and several alleys, but they’ve been designed so beautifully that you can’t stop yourself from exploring the whole city.
When I was playing No Straight Roads, I was stuck in a cycle of interesting content and just couldn’t stop it. After beating the fourth singer, I decided to stop playing the game and continue my career the next day, but something enticed me to check out how the next city looks for a few minutes more. Before long then, I found myself watching the ending credits almost at 4 AM.
Similar to most of the hack and slash titles, you will have a skill tree to learn new moves, upgrade your attacks, and improve your health bar. The game features two playable characters with each one having their own way of attacking, but it doesn’t make a huge difference in the gameplay. While Mayday’s playstyle is aggressive and rewarding, Zuke’s way of combat doesn’t feel useful and well-progressed. You only switch to Zuke when you have to. In the case of movements, there is no difference between characters, so when Mayday has heavier attacks, there’s no reason to pick Zuke.
There are no combos in the combat, but you can fill up your special move bars by earning points to try out some deadlier attacks on the opponents. You can also update your special moves with new ones after every boss that you defeat throughout the game. Overall, No Straight Roads features a simple and compact combat system that might not be as advanced and deep as other games in the genre, but when looking at the title’s scale, it doesn’t seem that bad.
When it comes to side quests, No Straight Roads falls short. The game doesn’t feature any meaningful side story content, and it wouldn’t be an issue if the game’s main storyline was long enough, but unfortunately, it’s only about 6 hours long. The game delivers an excellent experience through its main quests, but the number of boss fights could be more than what it is now.
With storytelling, No Straight Roads lacks nothing. It’s probably the best short story in a video game that I’ve seen this year. Of course, it’s a cliche story, but the developer managed to make it a distinct cliche thanks to excellent dialogue and a bunch of really funny moments. The voice actor behind Mayday has surely nailed what the developers asked from her. She has given birth to one of the loveliest video game characters I’ve met this year.
“[No Straight Roads is] probably the best short story in a video game that I’ve seen this year.”
In the case of visuals, I’ve already praised the game’s environment design. Vinyl City looks gorgeous in every district. Fortunately, the same thing goes for the boss designs of the game, with each one of them having their own concert halls and sarcastic outfits that directly target some of today’s modern singers and musicians with their odd and bizarre dresses and makeup.
This is a game for rock fans, and as you may expect, the storytelling is also as fast and loud as rock music, but it’s not rushed or incomplete. The developer has managed to depict a conflict of different music tastes in a nutshell that leads to an impressive, unexpected ending.
No Straight Roads is a moderately short experience, but upon finishing the game, I asked myself one question: Did you enjoy your time with No Straight Roads? For me, that answer was a loud yes.