No Straight Roads is an action-adventure, set in a dystopian future in which the titular No Straight Roads corporation uses music, specifically EDM, to power Vinyl City. Rock is all but forgotten and then outlawed by the leader of No Straight Roads — Titania — following our leads’ — Mayday and Zuke — audition to join No Straight Roads.
Titania declares that EDM is the only genre that matters and the only one acceptable for use in powering Vinyl City.
No Straight Roads is We Will Rock You meets Monsters Inc.
And while it has a tonne of attitude, incredibly catchy tunes and a wild artistic flair, after spending 90 minutes with it, I’m not convinced it has the legs to sustain a full-length experience.
No Straight Roads
It’s always difficult to judge a game’s potential based on a small section but with No Straight Roads, I’ve seen exploration, combat and boss battles. While they each have some charm, I wasn’t blown away. It didn’t leave my desperate to keep playing, in fact, it didn’t leave much of an impression whatsoever.
Essentially, No Straight Roads splits player’s time between exploring Vinyl City and fighting the EDM legends of the No Straight Roads corporation. My hands-on preview allowed for some minor exploration of two small areas as well as boss fights against DJ Subatomic Supernova and Sayu.
While exploring, there are no enemies, nothing to avoid and no danger. You can stroll around at your leisure, collecting energy, powering up objects to earn yourself fans and finding hidden objects and collectibles. There’s nothing wrong with games including sections like this but in No Straight Roads, it didn’t feel like it was actively adding anything to the experience. Controlling Zuke and Mayday is…fine but there’s nothing here we haven’t seen before and seen done better.
Boss battles fare a little better, largely due to the stylishness of the visuals. In the tutorial level, No Straight Roads teaches you that enemy movements and attacks are set to the beat of the music. While this is true, it doesn’t really seem to change up the gameplay much, if at all. You’re supposed to be able to assess each enemy, learn its patterns and defeat it in time with the music, however, it’s far easier to simply approach them, mash attack and move on.
Any attempt by me to stick to the beat and follow the rhythm meant sequences went for far longer than necessary. The entire concept of the enemies sticking to the beat seems undercooked and wholly unnecessary. In games like Crypt of the NecroDancer, the beat is paramount and it works. It makes the music feel integral and sticking to the correct rhythm a requirement.
I never got that feeling with No Straight Roads. Either there didn’t seem to be enough musical cues to announce an attack or ignoring the music was a far better strategy.
The boss battles themselves take place in large arenas and include their own specific mechanics. DJ Subatomic Supernova, for example, is elevated above ground level and can’t be hit with melee attacks. To damage him, you’ll need to attack disco balls and orbiting planets to collect ammunition. DJ Subatomic Supernova, uses his turntables to speed up the orbiting planets and disco balls in order to attack and damage you.
Sayu, on the other hand, retreats from battle each time you get close. Her boss fight requires you to constantly stay on the move to avoid attacks and damage while completing challenges to force her into a fight. Once you’ve managed to make your way through the stage and destroy four checkpoints, you’ll face off against her.
Both of the boss battles I played in the preview weren’t overly impressive when it comes to gameplay. However, the visuals and style are. DJ Subatomic Supernova’s arena changes as you progress through his three forms. Beginning as a regular stage with turntables, it transforms into a replica of the solar system complete with starfield, asteroids and more.
It’s bright and vibrant and really suits the over-the-top nature of the premise and the music. Sayu’s stage is like an electronic undersea adventure. It’s all neon and glowing lights with fish, coral and seaweed spreading out into the distance.
The visuals are what truly sets No Straight Roads apart from other games and is easily my favourite thing about it so far. Perhaps a little more time polishing before launch is necessary and perhaps the overall experience will come together in the end. For now, the concept feels a little half-baked and somewhat lacking.
There’s plenty of potential in No Straight Roads, just as there’s potential in the rock and roll Mayday and Zuke want to play. Hopefully, developer Metronomik can make sure it’s on full display when No Straight Roads launches for PC, PS4 and Xbox One on August 25, 2020.
A Switch version will be released shortly after.
You can give No Straight Roads a go for yourself on the Epic Games Store as a demo has been released today.
No Straight Roads was previewed on PC using a digital copy provided by the publisher.