Hi-Fi Rush Review: Step into the World of High-Fidelity

The quality of the Hi-Fi Rush is quite high. The game was announced during Microsoft’s Developer Direct event last week and launched shortly after. It is the product of the extremely imaginative team at Tango Gameworks.

The fantastic sense of style and daring graphic choices help to bring together the various genre aspects, including action, platformer, rhythm, and side-scrolling games.

This bold and daring game is a triumph on all fronts and a visual feast for the eyes to boot. It also marks the end of an extended dry spell for Xbox-exclusive games as the first major first-party Microsoft release in over a year.

To further understand what makes Hi-Fi Rush tick, let’s take a peek at its bold style and beat-matching brawling action. Before we go into the technical details, let’s go through how the game is played.

You may jump, grapple, and unleash a wide variety of special skills in this wonderfully illustrated and responsive action game for one or more characters. Essentially, it’s not all that dissimilar from games like Devil May Cry, with the primary difference being that most in-game activities function better when timed to fit the background rhythm.

You can see this in the idle animations, the game’s surroundings and user interface (UI), and the music, all of which reward you for timing your attacks to the beat.

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In a similar vein, your enemies’ movements are timed to specific musical cues, allowing you to plan accordingly. Never does using the system feel like too much, and it becomes second nature very fast.

Hi-Fi Rush seems like a great game. Characters are cel-shaded, with bold, irregular edges and dramatic, color-rich designs reminiscent of television cartoons, giving the impression that they are flat, 2D animations within a 3D game’s content. Key to the experience is the animation, with character movements updated at 15fps to create a jerky, hand-drawn feel to the action.

Key animations in 2D television are frequently done on twos, or between 12fps and 15fps, for production reasons, so this works out perfectly. However, the animation is running at full speed during games to improve responsiveness.

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The characters’ motions have an animated quality that I really enjoy; like conventional 2D animation, the game seems to revolve around a few dramatic key postures. During cutscenes, the only real tell is that the characters’ perspective-correct detail and proportions are maintained, which is not common in hand-animated 2D.

The camera animation also refreshes at full frame rate, which looks excellent most of the time (for example, during scene pans), but might be a little jarring during the rare instances of swooping, rotating camera movement.

Hi-Fi Rush uses cel-shading everywhere because none of this would be possible with a conventional materials pipeline and lighting model. In most cases, only two lighting bands are used to illuminate the black-outlined text, whereas there is some variation in the lighting of the backgrounds.

In most cases, though, subtleties in the textures are ignored entirely. Compared to other cel-shaded games, such as Breath of the Wild, Persona 5, and even Jet Set Radio, Hi-Fi Rush’s settings, and background details are rendered more realistically.

The game’s environments are a good example of its innovative aesthetic choices. Bloom and screen-space reflections are particularly affected by the masking of real-time lighting information into halftone comic book-style patterns. Patterns of crosshatching are used to represent ambient occlusion.

Shadows rendered in real-time are rounded and ‘gloopy,’ with animated transitions between the various stages of the shadow cascade. A gorgeous thick black silhouette is generated by the outline shader, which is active overall environmental geometry.

Backgrounds typically use striking 2D art instead of geometry to convey the atmosphere. In addition, there is a plethora of rhythmically coordinated, background animation pulsing through various zones at all times.

To make the surroundings look uniform and easy to navigate, Hi-Fi Rush uses relatively modest model detail and intricacy within them. My main complaint is that, while the beginning and ending levels are more evocative than the majority of the others, the majority of the levels have an industrial feel and tend to melt together.

Hi-Fi Rush Review
Hi-Fi Rush Review

The overall feel of the Hi-Fi Rush would be severely damaged if any of its visual components broke. Not even elaborate lighting and a densely detailed landscape can help hide the visual flaws in this game.

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Tango Gameworks took a lot of risks with the core design of this game, and the risk-taking paid off with a visually spectacular experience.

Hi-Fi Rush also succeeds in terms of its presentation, which is essential for achieving the game’s intended hand-drawn aesthetic. Series X has practically flawless picture quality with its razor-sharp and spotless 4K presentation, while Series S appears softer but is still great at a fixed 1440p.

In what is essentially the best-case situation for a console release, the visual quality is noticeably higher than typical on both systems. While Series S does feature a few minor adjustments, such as reduced foliage density and poorer shadow quality at the range, the two appear to share nearly identical visual settings otherwise.

Both consoles are capable of a smooth 60 frames per second experience, with the Series X seeing no drops in frame rate at all and the Series S experiencing minimal drops in frame rate (often less than 16.7 milliseconds) that gamers are unlikely to detect. The game’s slight yet high-quality motion blur contributes to a fluid and responsive experience on either PC or console.

The PC version performs admirably, too, thanks to a precompilation phase that appears to have eliminated the shader compile stutter epidemic that has plagued several recent editions of Unreal Engine 4. In the first 30 minutes of play on a Core i9 12900K and RTX 4090 system, we only noticed one possible instance of stutter, and even that was only 50ms in duration.

Additionally, the PC has the potential to greatly improve image quality over consoles thanks to the inclusion of Unreal’s Temporal Super Resolution, XeSS, DLSS, and FSR 1. All of the temporal upsampling methods can build images with more detail than the default TAA at native resolution, however, XeSS and DLSS have fewer dis occlusion concerns.

Other PC standards, such as ultrawide support and running at unlocked frame rates, are supported; however, the field of view cannot be changed at this time. The game appears to operate smoothly, and because of the abundance of upscaling options and typically modest system requirements, many machines should be capable of maintaining a framerate of 60 or 120 frames per second.

There’s just so much to say about Hi-Fi Rush that I could go on for hours. The game reeks of class and was obviously made with painstaking care and precision. Throughout its moderate length (about 11 hours for me), Hi-Fi Rush pays respect to its predecessors with high-quality cutscenes, bespoke gameplay elements, comic book-style transition sequences between levels, and true 2D animated cutscenes.

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To my knowledge, no other recent releases have done 2D animation as well as these do. This is a fully 3D game in terms of both gameplay and visuals, thus it can’t employ a single perspective camera to hide its 3D components, and this is one of the reasons why the game is so impressive.

The writing, character designs, particle effects, soundtrack, and user interface are all top quality, but I don’t have time to go into detail about them now. You simply can’t ask for more from such a well-polished, newly released game with innovative gameplay concepts and visually engaging visuals.

It’s a daring, fashionable game that deviates from the norm in order to do something truly unique; it’s almost like a lost member of the Capcom 5 It seems very sixth-generation console, harkening back to a time when bolder ideas, especially from Japan, were given the go-ahead.

Launching the game on Xbox and PC out of the blue was a bold move, but it only serves to bolster the aforementioned benefits. Also, to my knowledge, there are no major problems or performance issues on any of the platforms tested.

While I expect the majority of players to tackle this on Game Pass, I do believe it deserves a full disc release at some point, particularly because of the licensed music it employs, which may limit its digital shelf life.

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