After seven years at Square Enix, Final Fantasy XV lead designer Wan Hazmer left to found Metronomik, a new development studio that has been hard at work on its new IP, No Straight Roads.
Prior to an interview with Hazmer, OnlySP had the opportunity to play a demo of the quirky action-rhythm game.
The demo displayed Hazmer’s goal to create an authentic, action-rhythm game. As Hazmer said in the interview, players must use their “musical instinct to play the game” if they want to succeed. The demo was enough to prove Metronomik has achieved this grand idea.
The demo opened with a brief tutorial to familiarize players with the controls and the two main characters, Mayday and Zuke. One of the subtle things the game begins teaching players immediately is just how the rhythm and action works in tandem.
The teachings, both subtle and apparent from the tutorial, felt enjoyable to play. The action was responsive to the movements that were made by the player. Not a single attack felt more satisfying than others, as the most important aspect of the combat was definitely the rhythm. Mastering the timing quickly can make the game much easier, though this is not necessary to enjoy No Straight Roads.
Additionally, both protagonists felt unique in their attacks and were quirky and fun to play as well. Each carries their own instruments that their movements and attacks are based on. Mayday’s attacks are focused on the guitar she carries, while Zuke’s attacks are based on his drumsticks. While the combat style and animations are different from each other, either character can be used in any situation. The choice between who to play, ultimately, felt preferential over practical.
This type of gameplay loop should keep players hooked for the full 10–15 hours of gameplay. For players with a keen sense of rhythm, the game should take no time to master. The gameplay is not designed to punish others who may struggle in this department, though.
One of the key points Hazmer mentioned in the interview was how enemies follow the music in their movements and attacks. This was noticeable during the boss fight against DJ Subatomic Supernova. The DJ would launch its attack on every fourth beat, so, with this in mind, the player can measure precisely how much time they have to destroy the spheres orbiting the boss on the ring and using the remains to launch their attack before needing to avoid an incoming attack. Since the gameplay and enemy combat is tied to the rhythm of the music, becoming familiar with the music aids in making the boss became easier to defeat.
The art direction does not take itself seriously and it works as a result. Both characters and the world take on a bright, quirky design that accurately represents how much fun the game is. As Hazmer said, the idea was for the game to “run away from realism” after the previous work employees of Metronomik had done.
From the gameplay to the art style, Metronomik is making a rhythm game unlike any other. The timing-based combat and quirky visuals should enable No Straight Roads to stand out when it releases in 2020.
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