A demo for the rhythm-action title No Straight Roads is now available, and Stevivor was able to preview the experience ahead of time.
Designed by Wan Hazmer (lead game designer of Final Fantasy XV) and Daim Dziauddin (concept artist of Street Fighter V), No Straight Roads is nothing like the duo’s past works. Part rhythm game and part beat ‘em up, it’s at it best when protagonists Mayday and Zuke are attacking foes in time with a killer soundtrack comprised of both rock and electronic dance music (EDM) beats.
May and Zuke are better known as Bunk Bed Junction, looking to make it big and reintroduce the citizens of Vinyl City to rock after an inundation of EDM. It’s not as simple as that, though — Vinyl City is powered through music and that system is controlled by NSR, a megacorporation constantly on the hunt for new artists. Bunk Bed Junction very quickly discovers that NSR is not only nefariously favouriting the genre of EDM but actively stopping other genres like rock from flourishing. If that wasn’t enough, NSR then goes as far to hoard Vinyl City’s power reserves when EDM can no longer keep the lights on. No Straight Roads is equally about good music as it is exposing and toppling corrupt dictatorships — who’d have thunk it?
What follows could be considered a spiritual successor to Scott Pilgrim vs the World, with our righteous heroes moving throughout Vinyl City, engaging with uniquely themed levels before an over-the-top boss battle that secures each one. As you move through each area, rock will slowly creep into an EDM soundtrack, with enemies and bosses attacking our heroes on the beat.
While you’ll ideally play as one half of Bunk Bed Junction alongside a friend, you can also play solo, switching between Mayday and her guitar or Zuke and his drums. Mayday seems to be the damage dealer, nimble and energetic, while Zuke is more of a tank, reliant upon combos and able to parry pink-tinged attacks back at opponents.
When it’s firing on all cylinders, No Straight Roads is something to behold, a flurry of light and sound that’ll put a big grin on your face. It’s not always hitting those heights though, with some areas overflowing with visual and audio prompts in a way that means you can’t just rely on the beat to succeed. While the tutorial dismisses the parry mechanic, saying you can choose to simply roll or dodge attacks, the two bosses in the demo seem pretty reliant on the function to be able to succeed. Luckily, NSR oozes charm and is damn fun, so you’ll quickly forgive these shortcomings.
No Straight Roads has a hilarious sense of humour with two characters who are both unique and instantly understandable. Both want change, though Mayday is clearly in it for the fame as much as she is change. Zuke is chill AF, someone who balances and grounds Mayday with a bit of caution and common sense.
Two bosses and approximately 90 minutes in, I’m left with the resounding feeling that NSR wants to be a lot of things and cover a lot of topics. It’s done that successfully so far, though I’m left to wonder if it can keep up the pace it’s set for itself throughout the entire retail release. Time will tell… though I do hope it can stick the landing and have me demanding an encore.
No Straight Roads heads to Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4 from 25 August, with a Switch release to follow. A demo is available now on Windows PC via the Epic Games Store. You can watch the full demo played in its entirety below.