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E3 2019

No Straight Roads is a Perfectly Blended Action-Rhythm Game

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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

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.

For all the latest on No Straight Roads and more from the world of single-player gaming, be sure to bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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E3 2019

The Outer Worlds is Proof of Obsidian’s Ability to Build a Universe

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The Outer Worlds

Obsidian Entertainment has consistently put out stellar RPGs for the last decade, but all of its creative juices have been strained of originality. Fallout: New Vegas and South Park: The Stick of Truth, while loved by many, are not synonymous with the Obsidian name. Though the developer has taken a crack at its own IP before, The Outer Worlds looks like the world’s first real taste of an unhinged Obsidian. Bringing together everything fans love about Obsidian-led games with the production values of a AAA RPG, The Outer Worlds plans to show players what the team can do when given time and the right tools.

Thanks to Obsidian’s generosity, OnlySP was given the chance to check out a behind-closed-doors viewing of the game at E3 2019. Even though the footage was hands-off, what was shown was more than enough to justify high hopes.

Obsidian has worked up enough goodwill in the last decade to fill a wasteland. From the moment the demo started, The Outer Worlds proved that Obsidian deserves all of its praise. 

Falbrook, a town on the planet Monarch, was showcased in the demo’s early moments and looked to offer Rockstar Games-levels of character. Townsfolk were walking around, talking with each other as business carried on as usual. The western, sci-fi fusion felt lived-in and was a nice reminder that Obsidian can do more than just make gripping RPG gameplay.

From the streets of Falbrook, the player walked into a nearby bar area to talk with an NPC. Here, dialogue and the importance of choice was shown in full effect. Those familiar with Fallout: New Vegas will find similar NPC interactivity here, as dialogue options have varying paths to take. Of course, standard options can be chosen to progress the story or learn more about another character’s background. Again following the example of Fallout was how dialogue can change depending on how the player character is set up. Obsidian did not go into detail about how dynamic this feature can be but did give the example of unique dialogue options for players who choose to have a low-intelligence character.

A true Fallout: New Vegas spiritual successor needs more than the classic RPG developer’s advanced dialogue, though, and The Outer Worlds’s combat offered just that. Though appearing sluggish during the first encounter, combat can pick up quickly. For example, The Outer World’s has a slow-motion mechanic called Tactical Time Dilation, which can most easily be compared to Fallout’s V.A.T.S. mechanic. This spin on an ability familiar to both Obsidian and Fallout fans alike is a great example of the developer’s willingness to blend its past experience with new ideas. Similar mechanics have been a staple of modern games, though normally can only be found in arcade-like games. Seeing such an arcadey ability used in a proper RPG was refreshing and should offer some hope to those worried The Outer Worlds could be all bark and no bite.

Obsidian doubled down on the importance of choice shortly after the first encounter by stressing the choices players can make both outside and inside combat. Again, as seen in many modern games, The Outer Worlds promises the option to take a stealth approach when infiltrating enemy lines.

What was really stunning about everything shown in the demo was the world and universe building. Leaving the town of Falbrook, which was interesting in its own right, led to fungal treetops that towered over the landscape. Pollen and spores filled the air as the player progressed onward. Obsidian claims the game will remind players of the team’s dark sense of humor, and the creatures and environments are unique both in name and appearance. The Outer Worlds looks to be both lived-in and well-realized, thus justifying its existence in the process. The entire reason Obsidian, or any developer for that matter, needed to take a leap of faith with its own IP was to prove it can produce a world worth living in. Despite gameplay and RPG mechanics that may not be wholly unique, the game’s namesake is.

Obsidian is promising outer worlds that are brimming with character. The Outer Worlds, while not promising anything too outside of the box in terms of gameplay, looks to offer a world like no one has ever seen before. Expect a much more polished Fallout: New Vegas with environments built from the ground up when The Outer Worlds finally finds its way to shelves on October 25, 2019 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. 

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