Developer Metronomik has pitted two musical giants against each other in No Straight Roads (opens in new tab). You play as Mayday and Zuke, an indie rock duo trying to take down a corrupted EDM Empire through a musical revolution. Part Psychonauts, part Jet Set Radio, No Straight Roads is a rhythm-based action adventure where the rock and EDM theatrically duke it out for centre stage.
Although the release date for No Straight Roads has been pushed back to August it's still great to see another music-based action game on the horizon and, after playing the 90-minute demo, it's definitely something to get excited about.
In the No Straight Road's universe, EDM reigns king. It's both the most popular genre and the main power source for Vinyl City, a place that is able to convert music into electrical energy. This would be awesome if the source of the power wasn't controlled by an elite music organisation, No Straight Roads (NSR for short).
After being unfairly rejected in an NSR audition, Mayday and Zuke witness a city-wide power outage and discover that backup energy is only supplied to the upper echelons of NSR. The duo decides to pull the plug on the EMD empire and plan to take out NSR's major musicians one-by-one in the hopes of bringing electricity back to the entirety of Vinyl City through the power of rock.
No Straight Roads has the same world-hopping structure of action adventures like Psychonauts. You'll be seeking out NSR musicians and battling them in theatrical boss battles, in an effort to slowly take down EDM's power. Combat in No Straight Roads is a combination of hack-and-slash attacking and rhythm-based evading. Players control one character but can swap between the two anytime, Mayday's guitar attacks are fast and frantic whereas Zuke's drumming is more chill and combo-based.
Between the preview code I was sent and the free demo that Metronomik has put on the game's page, I've played through three boss battles, each one more over the top than the last. It's safe to say that these characters has an ego that's flaunted boldly through their performances, making every battle a spectacle.
The first boss is DJ Subatomic Supernova, an EDM musician obsessed with planets and the solar system. His stage is in the middle of a giant planetarium, placing himself, quite literally, at the centre of the universe. He's flamboyant, pompous, and incredibly sassy. In a cut-scene before his performance, he tells Mayday and Zuke: "My music will reach the farthest reaches of the galaxy. What have you done today?" The battle hasn't even started but I'm already in love with this shady dude.
DJ Subatomic Supernova's performance takes place on a giant intergalactic, revolving record with Supernova at the centre, laying down the beats. Playing as either character, you need to bash open giant disco balls, collect musical notes, and fire them at Supernova, dodging his asteroid attacks in time with the music as you go.
As the battle goes into different phases, the action and music get more intense and you can hear the rocking guitar riffs battling with the pumping EMD in the soundtrack. From the level layout to the boss design, I love the theatrics of it all. The level meets a bombastic end, as Supernova meets a spectacularly explosive fate.
After the clash with Supernova you'll get some well-deserved downtime and a chance to explore more of Vinyl City. Between boss stages, you'll be able to enhance Mayday and Zuke's powers in an underground home base. You can level up your attacks, modify your equipment with item buffs, and strategize about how to take down your next NSR target.
Vinyl City acts as a loose overworld for the different concert stages, and you'll be able to chat with different characters and find helpful items by running around its streets and boroughs. As I was exploring the different areas, I could hear a cutesy giggle from the city's neon advertisements only to find out later that the creepy laugh belonged to the next boss character—a hyper cute Hatsune Miku-like vocaloid called Sayu.
Fighting a piece of voice synthesizer software is just another part of this crazy world, and Metronomik's humour is infused in every part of the game. Its writing, character illustrations, cutscenes, and level designs radiate Saturday morning cartoon vibes. Everything is a bit bonkers.
The demo for No Straight Roads left me shouting for an encore. It's stylish, fun, and creative with its approach to the rhythm action genre. I recommend watching the trailer above to see the DJ Subatomic Supernova battle in action and get an earful of some rock-EDM fusion. No Straight Roads launches on the PC via the Epic Games Store (opens in new tab) on August 25 and I personally can't wait to see what other crazy characters Metronomik has waiting to battle backstage.