Hi-Fi RUSH – Xbox Cloud Review

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As the years go on, and I become older, just like everyone else, I started to notice something. Despite that the breach between indie games and AAA blockbusters has become tighter, AA titles have become scarce. Indie studios have managed to produce high quality titles without the help of big corporations. And said big corporations, for the most part, have been producing bigger and bigger games. Of course, there are some exceptions, but those are far in-between each other, and published by veteran companies. For a long time, titles that could be considered AA, would be a rare sight. As someone who likes the innovation and charisma from indie games, and the polish and care of bigger productions, I am glad to see titles like Hi-Fi RUSH, the game we’ll cover today.

Of course, it’s kinda cheeky to claim that a game published by Bethesda is an AA release. Considering their background, catalog of releases and being owned by one of the largest companies in the world. Still, once you learn about how the game came to be, and the team behind, the picture becomes more clear. Specially, after considering the premise of the title, gameplay, and style included. Hi-Fi RUSH may not 100% be an AA release, but the amount of care, polish, charisma and sheer innovation, sure make it feel like one. Or at least, a passion project from a very dedicated team.

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The game releases straight to Game Pass Ultimate

A nice surprise

Announced during the Xbox and Bethesda Developer Direct on last January, Hi-Fi RUSH’s trailer quickly grabbed the attention of those watching the livestream. Not only that, but the game released shortly after the Developer Direct ended, straight to Game Pass Ultimate. This includes Xbox, PC, and Cloud. This practice of announcing a new product and release it almost instantly is commonly referred to as a shadow drop. Given the first impressions people got with the release trailer, many players logged in to their Xbox accounts in order to start playing. Some started downloading the game, and others, thanks to the cloud, started playing right away.

The team behind the game was worried that releasing such a game with a shadow drop would be risky. After all, Tango Works was well-known for their horror titles, such as The Evil Within series. Director John Johanas felt like developing a game that was the complete opposite of horror. Perhaps Microsoft wasn’t feeling too confident about the game, and marketing was not a priority. So they suggested releasing the game straight to Game Pass, in order to lower the entry point and let players recommend the game. After all, considering the reviews and reception, it is safe to assume that the risk paid off. The game quickly gained popularity and even became a trending topic on Twitter and other social media services.

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Hi-Fi RUSH has a varied set of levels and environments

Becoming a rock star

We take control of Chai, a 25-year-old man with a disabled right arm. Chai arrives at Vandelay Technologies to volunteer for a cybernetic limb replacement program called Project Armstrong. However, he is secretly designated as a garbage collector to work for the company. During the limb replacement process, his music player falls into his chest and embeds with it, giving Chai the ability to sense music and rhythm. He discovers that his new robotic arm can deploy a magnetic grabber stick, which he uses to create a weapon resembling an electric guitar. Shortly after, Chai meets Peppermint, who guides him to her hideout. They discover that SPECTRA, an AI-program, uses Vandelay’s cybernetic implants for mind control. The two hatch a plan to shut down SPECTRA by securing passkeys from each of the company’s executives. As they pursue their targets, they recruit more allies in order to, eventually, defeat Kale, the CEO.

The world of Hi-Fi RUSH is filled with amusing and charming characters. The comic book art style helps, but the amount of detail and care put in the cutscenes and animations, is what makes the characters stand out. Each character has superb voice acting that makes them not only unique, but feel alive. Despite the plot of the game being fairly simple, the story is filled with funny moments that will make the player smile the whole playthrough. Not only that, but the game’s cutscenes are flawlessly integrated with the gameplay sections and allow the game’s pacing to flow.

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Combat system is fluid and engaging

Cleaning the floor

Hi-Fi Rush is a rhythm-action game where players control the protagonist Chai and move to the beat. Combat requires the player to time their button presses to deal higher damage and complete combo attacks, including special finishers and super attacks. The game also features rhythm-based mini-games that reminiscent of titles such as osu! and Elite Beat Agents. Hi-Fi RUSH takes place across multiple linear stages, representing various divisions of the antagonist corporation, with each division based on a different musical style. The game has different difficulty levels, so players can pick the one that lets them enjoy more the game. Not only that, but there are also accessibility options to help those who lack rhythm.

Boss battles occur at various points, and use special compositions that fit not only the battle, but also the enemy itself. In addition to combat, the game includes platforming elements and secret collectibles spread across every level. Between stages, Chai visits Peppermint’s base. There, the player can speak to its allies, check their stats and achievements, change clothes, and even purchase new moves, abilities, and perks using in-game currency. Additionally, there’s the option to practice combos and attacks. Permanent upgrades to health and the special meter can also be collected during stages. As we meet new allies, we’ll unlock their special attacks and abilities. Completing the game once unlocks bonus features such as the ability to revisit past levels, a new difficulty setting, and a survival mode called Rhythm Tower.

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The game is home to colorful and charismatic characters

Like reading a comic

As previously stated, Hi-Fi RUSH presentation is stylized after comic books. According to director John Johanas, the game was inspired by the movie Shaun of the Dead. As for the art style, it was partly inspired by Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Trying to develop a game that’s the complete opposite of horror titles such as The Evil Within, Hi-fi RUSH boosts a colorful palette with saturated and vibrant colors. Not only that, but the game uses cell shading techniques to help empathize on the comic book art style, such as outlines around the characters, halftone dotes and even big tittle cards for specific moments and sound effects.

All these elements can be seen both during regular gameplay and cutscenes. This helps create seamless transitions between the two, and allow the game to flow easier. It all feels connected. Animations are fluid and detailed, full of character. There are also many gags that many will enjoy. Sometimes, it can even feel like a 90s cartoon, with great interactions that despite being cheesy and corny, always put a smile in my face. Of course, Hi-Fi RUSH is also full of slapstick humor, many times at the expense of our main character, Chai. Being a passion project, the game also hosts many easter-eggs and references to different shows, movies and video games.

To the beat

Of course, being a rhythm game, the music is crucially important. Created by Shuichi Kobori, Reo Uratani, and Tango Gameworks’ sound designer Masatoshi Yanagi, the soundtrack is a key element of Hi-Fi RUSH. The game includes licensed music tracks from artists such as Nine Inch Nails, The Black Keys and The Prodigy. Bethesda even created an official Spotify playlist. To avoid copyright issues, the game has the option to replace the licensed songs with similar original tracks performed by the band The Glass Pyramids. All songs fit the different environments and are adapted to the ongoing situations.

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I agree, Chai.

Playing for the crowd, on the cloud

One would think that playing a rhythm-based video game via the cloud would be a bad experience. To that, I would say that, as always, it depends. If other Xbox Cloud games play fine for you, chances are that you won’t have any issues with Hi-Fi RUSH. I’ve played the game with both a wired connect and Wi-Fi. Both a wired controller, and a one paired via Bluetooth. While playing via Xbox Cloud, I’ve barely encountered any latency issues. Only some rare instances, that probably were related to my controller’s Bluetooth connection. However, Xbox Cloud is still in beta, and that shows in the streaming quality. While playing, I’ve encountered some graphical artifacts and slowdowns.

Something that the game could use is a latency setting. Many games with rhythm elements allow the player to correct adjust audio delay, due to screen settings and whatnot. Being a game playable via the cloud, a feature like this would be a welcome addition, even if the game is fairly generous with the timings required. Still, playing Hi-Fi RUSH via the cloud is a great experience, at least as long as your Internet connection is capable of running it well. Even on smaller screens, the game is a joy to play, specially with accessibility options to increase text and make the gameplay easier.

The show must go on

All in all, Hi-Fi RUSH is a rhythm-action game that features charming and amusing characters with superb voice acting and a vibrant comic book art-style. The game’s cutscenes are seamlessly integrated with the gameplay and filled with funny moments, making the game enjoyable from start to finish. The soundtrack, created by Shuichi Kobori, Reo Uratani, and Masatoshi Yanagi, is a key element. Featuring licensed music tracks from famous rock bands, and the option to replace them with original tracks.

Playing Hi-Fi RUSH via Xbox Cloud is a great experience, as long as the Internet connection is good enough. However, some rare instances of graphical artifacts and slowdowns are possible. To make the experience even better, a latency setting would be a welcome addition, even thought that Xbox Cloud’s latency is mostly fine. The game is designed with accessibility in mind, making it enjoyable to play even on smaller screens. Those who want to enjoy the game via mobile, won’t have a problem. Hopefully, both Bethesda and Microsoft are interested in a sequel!



Hi-Fi RUSH – Xbox Cloud Review
Fun Factor


Hi-Fi RUSH is a rhythm-action game with outstanding characters and a comic book art style. Players control Chai and have to move to the beat to perform combo attacks and complete rhythm-based mini-games. The game can be played via Xbox Cloud with few latency issues, and enjoyed by many thanks to its accessibility options.




Marxally is a freelance graphic designer who enjoys playing video games and writing about them. A Nintendo fan at heart that enjoys the benefits of cloud gaming and loves its amazing community. Marxally covers news and review games at Cloud Dosage. Like what he does? Buy Marxally a Pizza!

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