Hi-Fi Rush Hi-Fi Rush PS5 Review PS5

Hi-Fi Rush Review (PS5) – Bringing The Band Back Together

Hi-Fi Rush PS5 Review – After much speculation and finally making the leap to PlayStation, Hi-Fi Rush lands with about as much impact as we all expected; a bombastic and layered entry into the action-adventure genre, Hi-Fi Rush is a fantastic game that manages to hold a strong impression and kept my attention until the very end and asking for an encore performance.

This masterful combat system is wrapped around a game full of cheesy cartoon charm and genuinely hilarious moments that had me laughing just as much as I was beating robots to the beat. While new players may take some time to get used to the purposeful rhythmic button presses, once this game clicks into pace, it never misses a beat.

Hi-Fi Rush Review (PS5) – Bringing the Band Back Together

Bursting with Charm

Hi-Fi Rush wastes no time with setting up a complex plot and characters and immediately shows its hand as the game starts; Chai is a hopeful (emphasis on hopeful) rockstar who has been invited to take part in an experimental robotic enhancement program, cutely called the “Armstrong programme,” which gives Chai a robotic arm. Thanks to a mishap, Chai ends up being implanted with an MP3 player and being branded a defect.

From here, the plot twists and turns as Chai joins up with a ragtag team of others who have been victims of Vandelay’s misdeeds. This takes Chai across a sprawling campus of varied facilities as secrets about a mind-control plot begin to emerge, and motives come to light. While the story is absolutely channelling the spirit of a Saturday morning cartoon, it excels in doing so and was a blast from opening to end.

From text documents strewn about the stages to the rogue’s gallery of villains (most of which are named after food, weirdly enough) that Chai comes across, each interaction was a delight as I went from battle to battle. Brilliant performances from the cast help to sell these conversations as both hilarious and earnest and I really did get a strong sense of everyone’s personality, while never being annoyed by the chatter.

Both pre-rendered and in-game cutscenes are animated with luscious detail and full of squash-and-stretch that helped immensely with expression. Chai is one of the most effortlessly entertaining characters I’ve played as in recent memory and no small part of that is just in the way that he moves. He’s hapless but incredibly endearing as you see him messing around with 808 between waves of enemies.

Based purely on the visual style and what I knew before playing, I wasn’t expecting to laugh as hard as I did at some of the jokes that the team have managed to include here. References to things that I could have never expected managed to sneak their way in and I was caught off-guard by just how funny it was at points. Both films and ridiculously obscure games are referenced here and it feels like a true labour of love for everyone involved.

Beat after Beat

Every aspect of Hi-Fi Rush’s design is pivoted around rhythm. The beat dictates everything that you do and how you do it. From combat to platforming and even moving around the stages, Hi-Fi Rush fully commits to bringing the action-fighting genre and rhythm genre into a cohesive package.

It’s impossible to talk about how this game plays and not mention the soundtrack that defines it – featuring a largely rock-themed playlist, the tracklist is perfectly suited to the areas that you explore. A healthy dose of variety helps each level feel distinct from the others. Licensed tracks are used for maximum impact around particularly big set pieces and being able to swap to non-licensed tracks is a benefit for both streamers and the long-term preservation of the game. Music licencing is hard enough as it is and I’ve not seen a game use it as naturally as this.

The main story is split up into stages, each of which puts you into a new location. Levels are mostly linear gauntlets with interactive platforming segments being the connection between the various combat encounters. Compared to others in the genre, Hi-Fi Rush really puts emphasis on this platforming and I did feel like there were some dry spells between combat rooms. Despite this, I never found the platforming to be that much of a bore; platforms would appear and disappear on the beat, forcing me to jump in rhythm to the world around me.

The areas that you explore are each vibrant and feel genuinely alive as you move through them. Even in areas that you wouldn’t expect, Hi-Fi Rush manages to deliver memorable setpieces and locales that I enjoyed returning to for high scores and to discover secret collectables.

Strewn across the platforming sections are small offshoots that call for specific moves to be used or clever platforming to navigate and these normally hide items to boost Chai’s health or special attack gauge. While I never found myself needing to comb the stages for every last health item, these were enjoyable diversions that hid even more fun platforming sections.

Bringing the Heat

Combat is the crown jewel of Hi-Fi Rush and is an absolute joy to pick up and play. Chai’s primary moveset consists of a light attack and a heavy attack that you can string into various combos – a staple of the genre and just as solid here as it has always been. While this system isn’t revolutionary in of itself, I haven’t played an action-combat game with combat that feels as good as this in a long time.

For as long as people have played games like this, people love to see accidental music syncs. Nothing makes beating a tough foe feel better than the beat dropping alongside your enemy. Hi-Fi Rush takes this feeling and makes every enemy feel like that. And it never gets old. Every hit that you land is on the beat, with the electric twang of Chai’s guitar. While players are encouraged to learn the rhythm of the game in order to land heavier hits and earn higher scores, I never felt like I was being punished for missing the rhythm.

For players who might struggle to follow the beat based on small visual hints and audio alone, the option for a visual rhythm meter is one that allows for a very smooth ease into the game as a whole and can be completely ignored for players who can already hit the beat.

Other similar games are less forgiving, but I appreciated being able to feel the rhythm of Hi-Fi Rush before I mastered it. And it did take some time to come to grips with. But as soon as it clicked, I couldn’t stop. Different combo strings are useful for particular situations and you’re encouraged to use the provided training room to learn the ins and outs of how moves can link to each other. Higher difficulty options raise the stakes of the rhythm gameplay, so aficionados of the genre can test themselves with stricter timings and harsher penalties.

Chai also has access to friends who also have their own special moves to use as a complement. Projectiles on demand as well as a powerful shockwave to destroy armour are among their uses and I found myself easily managing to bring these assists in at the press of the right trigger. These are also used in exploration and were generally harmless inclusions. If anything, having friends along for the ride only adds to the fun for the story’s sake.

A wide variety of enemies that get introduced regularly helped to change up my approach to combat as well, with some demanding the use of a particular assist, or using the obligatory grappling hook to get on their level and deal some major damage.

Bosses are a particular highlight and had me grinning wide as they each went in vastly new directions. Instead of being damage sponges, each one offers a unique spin on the core gameplay systems that had me surprised with each one. Purely out of respect, I won’t describe some of the more surprising ones here, but trust me when I say that each one was a brilliant way to end a long series of fights.

Encore Performance

This version of Hi-Fi Rush features all updates that have been released on other platforms, making for an exceptionally full package with a generous offering of side-modes to explore. Cosmetic additions that wink to a certain other PlayStation icon are the immediately accessible ones, but post-game modes dedicated to the luscious combat are hugely welcome and help to address my small gripes with the dry spells in the main campaign. Having a mode where I can quickly jump in and out of combat is a huge bonus and for players looking to master the rhythm, this is where you’ll want to go.

Embracing the emerging trend of the roguelike, “Power Up! Tower Up!” tasks players with steadily working from the bottom of a tower with a downgraded Chai and carefully considering what you might want to invest upgrades into as you proceed upwards. These fights really put your skills to the test as you can’t rely on an overinflated health bar to see you through. New enemies also awaited in this mode so it feels more than worthwhile to dig into.

On the other side is “BPM Rush,” a mode that instead focuses on upping the difficulty of the rhythm and speeding things up as you progress. While your attacks will be coming out faster, the enemies also follow suit and it can fly off the rails fast. I enjoyed both of these modes as additions to the main experience and both felt like brilliant additions that added a surprising amount of time onto an already full experience.

Hi-Fi Rush also makes convincing use of the haptic feedback in the DualSense to add to the action in key moments. I appreciated these small additions – it absolutely feels like care has been put into bringing this game over to the PS5 and helps to sell the experience as bombastic and blood-pumping.

That’s ultimately what stands as the most important aspect of Hi-Fi Rush. Incredible care has been put into every corner of this game and while it might not boast the 100-hour campaigns that other blockbusters have touted over the previous few years, it doesn’t need to. Hi-Fi Rush is a confident and pored-over experience that keeps well within what it wants to do. And that’s an absolutely unforgettable action-adventure game with a tremendous amount of heart, and it rocks.



The Final Word

Marrying the very best of the action-combat genre with the satisfaction of a rhythm game, Hi-Fi Rush is a titanic achievement that offers plenty of both style and substance. Luscious animations, appealing character designs and a hilarious cast help to elevate this title beyond the level of enjoying for the gameplay alone, I was here for the story too. Learning curves and a few too many dry spells in the main campaign do very little to dampen this rocking good time, a must play for action fans.