Music based games have always been a guilty pleasure of mine ever since I made “remixes” of Nintendo bangers in Mario Paint. Unfortunately like most genres in gaming, not every music title is going to be the next Guitar Hero or DDR. Naturally when I was told that No Straight Roads would be a "Music-Based Action-Adventure" game from a team that hasn’t put anything out yet I was definitely skeptical. As usual with these things I quickly found out that No Straight Roads not only delivers on its promise of a fresh musical adventure, but is also one of the stand out games I saw at this years E3.
To cut to the chase, No Straight Roads is one of the best feeling music-based games I’ve played since I learned I could play Stick Stickily on Rockband. Everything from the intuitive controls and its silky smooth gameplay mechanics really help bring the world of No Straight Roads to life. Most action games that require some sort of musical timing tend to have a relatively steep learning curve, and while my timing is a bit above average, I could see this game appealing even the clumsiest players out there due to the fact that the enemies are constrained to attacking within the music and you are allowed to move around as freely as you want. This created an interesting dynamic in combat when playing against the demo boss because I was able to experiment with timing without having to count a 4/4 tempo in my head.
Developer Metronomik absolutely knocked it out of the park with No Straight Roads music. While playing the demo we were joined alongside the games composer James Landino (Kingdom Hearts, RWBY, Rockband4) When asked about the creative process with the games song writing I was told by Landino and studio head Wan Hazmer that No Straight Roads music was a collaborative effort from everyone involved rather than a delivery of assets from one department to the next. While this might not seem like much to most people, the simple fact that the studio is taking an almost “band like” mentality with the games music shows in the final product. Instead of the safe bet with familiar licensed music or sound a-likes, the games composers went the extra mile and wrote original music that transitions seamlessly with what’s happening on the screen similar to games like Devil May Cry V and Metal Gear Rising Revengance. To put it bluntly, the music is the third character in this game.
Visually No Straight Roads character design feels like a love letter to early 2000’s animation styles you would see in games like Jet Set Radio, Space Channel 5, and even a band like Gorillaz. Like the games soundtrack, everything on screen is packed with personality and detail while not becoming overwhelming and busy. This blend of simple chaos makes for a very cool art style that, while not for everyone, really helps make the game its own thing.
No Straight Roads is one of those few independent music-based games that has that perfect blend of upbeat tunes with engaging gameplay to keep gamers tapping their foot along All the way through. And while I would have liked to see a bout more of the game outside of the tutorial and short level to boss fight I played, I was definitely intrigued enough to award it one of our “Game of the show” awards at E3 2019.
No Straight Roads is definitely worth looking out for in the coming months until its release sometime in 2020, band with the game slated for a budget price of $39 it just might be the thing gaming needs to revive the music-based videogame scene.
No Straight Roads was played at E3 2019 at a closed door demo. It's projected to release sometime in 2020 on the PC and PS4.
For more E3 2019 coverage, be sure to check out TechRaptor’s E3 Coverage Hub.