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No Straight Roads

Posted by GG Goblin On September - 8 - 2020

Rock your way to the top and vanquish the evil that is Electronic Dance Music.

While many gamers will be familiar with the concept of having to hit the right button, or even jump on it, at the right time for a rhythm game, there used to be many games that asked a little more for their musical experience. Recent years have seen a decline in all types of rhythm games, but a memo must have been circulated as only a short time ago we were previewing a rhythm shooter, and now we are looking at a rhythm action game. No Straight Roads from Metronomik, which is available on PC, Xbox One and PS4, alongside the Switch version that we got to play, drops the player into Vinyl City and challenges them, in the most colourful way, to bring rock music back to a world filled with electronic dance music. That’s a worthy cause if ever I heard one.


There is a bit more to it than that though. The action takes place in Vinyl City, a city ruled over by the shadowy corporation No Straight Roads, who happen to be obsessed with EDM. The player takes on the roles of Mayday and Zuke, the two members of fledgling rock band Bunk Bed Junction and the game begins with our heroes entering the Lights Up Auditions, an X-Factor style music competition held in the city and judged by NSR themselves. The two characters contrast perfectly and are instantly likeable, with Mayday being loud and over excitable while Zuke is much more reserved and quiet. Anyway, NSR are not impressed with the duo’s attempt to bring back rock music, going so far as to ban rock music from all further auditions. Obviously the pair are not impressed with this, but when it becomes apparent that NSR are more than a little dodgy, Mayday and Zuke decide it is time to take down the corporation once and for all.

What this means in reality is travelling across Vinyl City to each different area ruled over by a different star of NSR, and then defeating them in glorious, music-based combat. Mayday and Zuke are brilliant, charismatic characters, but they would be nothing without the games impressive variety of bosses. Each boss has a different genre of electronic dance music to focus on, and as such incorporate incredibly wildly varied situations for the players to battle through. These segments are all rated and the player will be able to come back and try these battles over and over again if they wish, which is especially likely due to the catchy nature of the music alone. Return visits are made further appealing by mixing things up both in the way these encounters play out and even the music itself.


Realistically, the boss battles could have stood alone in NSR as they are that much fun. However, the game is fleshed out with more to do. Before each of the bosses can be defeated, the player will have to travel around Vinyl City, chatting to the citizens and gathering collectibles, such as stickers that can provide buffs, or batteries to provide the city with power. This, along with defeating the bosses, can reward the player with fans that will allow them to level up and learn new skills and abilities in order to become even more powerful. It’s not the most involved aspect of the game, but as a vehicle moving the player from one boss battle to another, it’s bright, colourful and inoffensive.

Then there are the approaches, the sections of the game that have to happen before the player faces the bosses. These sections tend to be a fairly simple collection of mild platforming and 3D combat against run of the mill enemies. The variety here is far less impressive, and seems to sere only as filler to bulk the game out. However, it is the perfect opportunity to mention the rhythm side of the game. NSR could be seen as a straight for4ward action game, but the inclusion of music gives the perfect opportunity to make it something more. Enemies will attack to the beat of the music, and while players can mash the attack button to progress, attacking and dodging to the rhythm really is the way to go. Thankfully the quality and catchiness of the soundtrack means that keeping the beat is great fun.


Any game based on music has to have a soundtrack that lives up to the games ambitions, and No Straight Roads has nailed it. While the heroes of the story may be into rock music, the majority of the games’ soundtrack revolves around the evil EDM, but the variety is very impressive and I would challenge anyone not to find a tune in the game that has their head bopping. It is very impressive.

However, No Straight Roads is not perfect. While the game performs well on the Switch, it can stutter in the more wide open areas. It is nothing too drastic, but it is noticeable. More drastic is the camera which can occasionally not play nicely with the player, sometimes creating situations where it is not easy to see what is happening. Then there is the fact that the game is not that long. Not a problem as many of the most memorable games are short affairs. The problem here is that the boss battles are where all of the fun is, and replaying them over and over can only last a certain amount of time, and the rest of the game becomes repetitive very quickly.


No Straight Roads is a rhythm action adventure set in a colourful world and filled with larger than life characters. While the mechanics are relatively simple, the boss battles keep it all interesting with an impressive variety that will see most players coming back to replay these sections over and over. NSR looks good and sounds great, but could have done with a little more meaningful content. Despite this, Switch players looking for action with a soundtrack should check out No Straight Roads before the EDM takes over completely.




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