Published on September 3rd, 2020 | by Zorbz
REVIEW: No Straight Roads
No Straight Roads is a weird action, rhythm boss rush hybrid game developed by Malaysian independent studio Metronomik formed by cousins Daim Dziauddin and Wan Hazmer, who were involved in Street Fighter V and Final Fantasy XV. Now with that pedigree for a new studio I was very intrigued. So how does their indie darling stand up?
Story: Let’s cut straight to it, this game’s strongest point is definitely not it’s story! You play as Mayday and Zuke trying to bring Rock back to a city obsessed with only dubstep, which you then come to find out is powering the city, yeah you read that right, music is how they produce electricity, ok so pretty cool so far. A big blackout occurs wiping out electricity from district except for the rich areas and the NSR tower where the evil EDM overlords reign. This ties into modern day politics of the poor getting poorer whilst the rich thrive and sure it has a cool little premise that has some meaning to it but where it all falls apart is the main character May who just down right sucks!
May is constantly talking throughout the game, jumping between several different accents and never committing to one, Zuke and the other supporting cast are fine but unfortunately their dialogue is minimal in comparison. So sure how can the voice acting bring the story down so much, well it’s not just Mayday’s grating voice, it’s all the crap that comes out of her mouth. She’s supposed to be a badass guitarist who is supposed to represent Rock but instead is the farthest thing from Rock aesthetic as you could get, like a try hard who knows nothing about the music and lifestyle but is so desperately trying to fit in instead of just being herself. The dialogue itself that she’s spewing is just cheesy and down right bad too, I found myself in a constant state of cringe and wanting to mute the game aw well as skip all cutscenes.
Graphics: Now for some positives. The visuals are outstanding! the strong use of colour really brings out the amazing design of all the characters as well as some drool worthy neon drenched city scapes that plays well to my love of synthwave. Everything has a quirky cartoony art style that just all blends so well together and definitely takes some noticeable inspiration from the Scott Pilgrim comics which I adore. It really was the visuals that kept me engaged as I always wanted to see what was next. I am all for gameplay is king but sometimes some artistic flair goes a long way.
Gameplay: This was sounding like the most promising aspect of the game with it’s action hack n slash mixed in with rhythm based timing, it had me intrigued. Unfortunately what is here though is bland and so mediocre I couldn’t be bothered even playing as it felt like a drag.
So here’s the set up, there’s the hub which is a bunch of menus used to upgrade May and Zuke and place stickers on your instruments which act as single use buffs for battles, there’s the collectibles to view and also a random black and white 2d rhythm shooter that you can play which is actually kind of fun and challenging.
Once you’ve set your characters up you take to the streets which is basically a mini open area where you collect energy orbs to bring light back to certain things in the environment whether it’s light posts or vending machines to bring life back to the slums. There’s some light platforming which is pretty basic but hey it’s only a hub essentially.
The Main focus of the game is essentially just boss battles which is where the hack and slash/ rhythm aspect comes in, now i will say it’s not poorly made, it’s just very generic and not very engaging. Mechanically everything runs smoothly and actions feel precise enough, it’s just nothing new and it’s a shame because this game had a lot of potential. The boss battles are split into different segments after whittling down their health to certain points and can be quite challenging but again not very engaging, and that is really the main theme of this game, the highs and lows bring it all to a mediocre standard all round.
The only sort of glitches or things of that nature I experienced was Mays hair going all crazy but it was just kind of funny and not really jarring.
Sound: One thing the team nailed is the music as it’s all top notch, from great 90s Sega sounding riffs and catchy rock tunes to some cool dance or I guess EDM beats. The music does fit perfectly to every area you’re in and the boss battles you partake in. It all works really well. If this game was just a visual/audio show piece it would actually be fantastic and something I would definitely recommend wholeheartedly.
Awesomeness: On the Audio and Visual front thing game stands out, on the gameplay and story side not so much. So when I thing of one thing that really stands out both good or bad i’m so torn between what it does well and what it doesn’t. I guess this is why I’ve had to go with a midrange score. There is plenty of reason for fans of the game to jump back in as you can always better your score on the boss battles, but apart from that there isn’t really much that stands out to make me ever want to go back. Now of course reviews are personal opinions and mine is not so crash hot, but fortunately there will be those out there who adore this game so i feel like that middle of the line sits perfect for me.
Final Word: Whilst ‘No Straight Roads’ isn’t pushing any boundaries and has quite a few significant flaws, there is equally the same amount of things to love in the game, so to me this is a good first entry for the team at Metronomik and I look forward to seeing what the studio can bring next. Again take my opinion as just that, a sole opinion and give the game a shot for yourself. I would recommend watching some playthroughs before writing it off and really see if this is something that vibes with you. If there’s ever been a time to try out new video games, it’s right now in this crazy world we’re living in.
Out of 5 Bugs!