Very few games reach the point where they're better described as "experiences," and Sayonara Wild Hearts just might fit the bill. Its reveal during The Game Awards 2018 left us with a lot of questions, many of which were answered during our hands-on demo at E3 2019.
The bright colors stand out in Simogo's first venture onto the Nintendo Switch. From the moment you boot it up, your eyes can scarcely register the vibrant range of hues. All the pinks and purples assault you, aided by shades of blue and occasional warm hues. They all come together to form a chaotic yet harmonious sense of visual overload.
To accompany that maelstrom of colors comes a poppy, catchy soundtrack. The thumping bass and aggressively addicting melodies will have you grooving before you realize it. I found myself walking away from the demo humming one of the songs days later. For fans of electronic and pop music, this self-proclaimed "pop album video game" can't be missed.
If the soundtrack ever ends up on streaming services, that would be a moment to celebrate. The music runs the gamut, from high-energy, pumping anthems to airy power ballads. This variety of moods properly sets the stage for the assortment of levels in Sayonara Wild Hearts.
You'll travel through a vortex made of hearts while riding a flying, oversized playing card. Then you'll hop on a skateboard and ride along some streets, all of which is suspended in the middle of a void. In some cases, you'll be in a fully realized city, weaving between buildings on a motorbike while chasing another biker. They'll occasionally hurl fireballs back at you, presenting a bit of challenge. To up the ante in one of the levels, whenever the chorus of the song kick in, the street splits in half. But don't worry, you can ditch the bike and fly through the suddenly created valley.
Needless to say, the gameplay wildly changes from one moment to the next. Generally speaking, however, Sayonara Wild Hearts can best be described as an on-rails platformer with some quick-time events scattered around. These QTEs fulfill various actions, like dodging incoming hazards or attacking opponents. Meanwhile, you have collectibles to distract you as you run through each stage, which contribute to your score and augment your gameplay. For example, smaller hearts simply bolster your score, while large hearts flashily propel you forward.
More often than not, the camera will move freely around, changing your perspective of the action. Usually, the camera will be behind you. At times though, it transitions to an opponent's point of view, all while you retain control. It takes a moment to get used to, and I put the controller down occasionally, thinking a cutscene was about to start. After some time, I learned to remain vigilant, appreciating the control I had over my character at every moment. With every beat of the bass drum, the game engages your senses.
Holistically speaking, it's a straightforward title that can be easily approached. You'll slip right into the game with its simple controls, and the simple yet stylish art style invites you to play more. Furthermore, the soundtrack elevates the experience, and it'll be the reason you keep coming back. Without the music, this Simogo title lose the core of its identity. But with the built-in playlist, Sayonara Wild Hearts steals the show.
TechRaptor previewed Sayonara Wild Hearts on the Nintendo Switch at E3 2019. It releases some time in 2019.
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