No Straight Roads PC Preview - A Hardcore Musical Journey

No Straight Roads stands out thanks to its strong art direction and presentation as ear-candy music plays to establish a very memorable opening

By Grayshadow, Posted 29 Jun 2020

No Straight Roads has been a game on my radar for a long time. Sold Out was kind enough to provide us with a short preview of the game and it really took me for surprise how much I enjoyed it. I expected a standard platformer with great music and for the most part, it does execute those basic expectations well. With standard combat mechanics that really don’t go beyond basic platforming and attacks. What made No Straight Roads really stand out was everything else. The atmosphere, writing, characters, and incredible boss fights. No Straight Roads stands out thanks to its strong art direction and presentation as ear-candy music plays to establish a very memorable opening.

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The preview highlights the first 3 sections of the game. We first dive into the game’s tutorial and get introduced to our heroes. Mayday is an enthusiastic and talented guitarist who is incredibly passionate about music, especially rock, to the point that she often oversteps her bounds. Zuke, her bandmate, is a drummer who is more reasonable and level-headed but shares Mayday’s passion for music. Their indie rock band called the Bunk Bed Junction audition to impress the CEO Tatiana and her superstars from NSR, the controlling government of Vinyl City, in hopes of reviving rock.

It’s here that we learn the basics. Attacks, dodging, and long-range lasers. Music plays a huge role in the gameplay as you can listen to enemy cues to anticipate attacks. Melee attacks are a bit slow to put more emphasis on evading. You can perform a ground pound and switch between Mayday and Zuke at any time, but switching is on cooldown. Both Mayday and Zuke have unique fighting styles such as Mayday being the heavy hitter but slower and Zuke being the opposite. Zuke is weaker but can parry, which is limited to purple colored attacks and must be timed at the exact moment an attack makes contact with the avatar. You’re encouraged to use both in combat as each offers distinct styles.

There’s a shooting system where Mayday or Zuke can loot musical notes to shoot back but the most unique ability is the skill to change or activate certain objects using music. By playing their own music Zuke and Mayday can activate certain objects or morph them. At the end of the tutorial, we’re finally introduced to the core narrative.

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The writing of No Straight Roads is brilliant. With Mayday attacking over the top when mocked and Zuke attempting to keep Mayday in check. The 2 play off each other so well that their chemistry is well-established right at the start of the game. The primary antagonist does the same with Titana firming showing herself as a no-nonsense leader who demands absolute order and obedience or else. Often speaking down to those she sees as inferior.

The animations and choreography have that cartoonish style. The characters feel so alive and motivated during these scenes that mimic outlandish cartoons. Outside the cinematics, images portray the character’s speaking similar to Indivisible with slight changes to their body and facial expressions to express what they’re feeling.

Despite their strong performance Zuke and Mayday’s performances are rated a failure by Titania and her superstars from the NSR. The NSR control Vinyl city and have declared Rock illegal and EDM music the only acceptable music of the city. After being kicked out we learn that the city uses music to power the city and it was through NSR that Vinyl City is able to be fully powered until we find out the dire news.

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Despite Zuke’s attempts to voice reason as the NSR coverup their successful performance and declares rock illegal, the city experiences a blackout. Here we see the NSR is only providing backup power to the elites of the city, convincing Zuke and encouraging Mayday to launch a revolution against the NSR. To bring back rock music and save the less fortune from the NSR’s oppression.

The preview demo has Maday taking on 2 bosses and providing a short demo of the game’s customization and exploration city. Mayday and Zuke’s home is the sewer where they can upgrade their gear and alter their fighting style. On the surface world, Mayday and Zuke can interact with the people and collect batteries, which are used to power certain areas of the city to increase their fans.

The fans serve as the game’s experience system and are earned by resupplying power to the city and at the end of each level based on the player’s performance. If you wish, you can take on previous fights with harder challenges for better rewards.

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The first opponent we face is DJ Subatomic Supernova. A DJ obsessed with the galaxy and tries very hard to sound smart. He’s brimming with personality but his appearance is short-lived. A fight ensures with each phase of the fight adding more layers to the previous phase. The developers definitely add more flair to the encounters with a more complicated looking arena as the battle continues. The key here is to attack the replica of planets to obtain musical notes, which act as ammo and shoot Supernova. Rockets also made available if Mayday or Zuke can play their song long enough to morph them. Everything from Supernova’s attacks to his eventual end is designed after these cosmic themes.

The fight ends with a literal giant bang, as both Mayday and Zuke unleash their final attack and take control of Supernova’s district. We’re also rewarded with a bunch of items including trophies and collectibles that expand on Supernova’s story, such as how lonely he really was. For a first boss fight, it was very cinematic. With Supernova literally commanding the cosmos to destroy Mayday and Zuke while moving in a very Tex Avery way.

Despite their success, the NSR show how much control they have on the news, easily swaying the victory in their favor to the duos vexation. We are then introduced to Kliff, the first major fan of Bunk Bed Junction who decides to aid Mayday and Zuke but has an unsettling amount of information about both the group and their actions. Anyway, he explains that as Mayday and Zuke take over concerts and defeat the superstars they’ll take control of the person’s district. With us able to explore Supernova’s pretentious sector that once was a haven for scientific discovery but now serves as a monument to himself.

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The second fight isn’t an unknown as we’ve seen advertisements of her all around. Kliff provides a short summary of the digital musician Sayu and even connects with Mayday through their shared interest in Goolings. A huge rock band led by Kil Fyra, a talented guitarist that Mayday idealizes. It’s a light nod to how much music, especially rock, means to Mayday. With the poster even reflecting Mayday’s character image when speaking.

During this section, we get to try out the customization options. They’re basic but work. As Mayday and Zuke gain new fans they can unlock new skills, with each new tree unlocked after reaching a certain amount. Both friends can unlock and equip custom skills and attributes such as increased damage, health, and so on. Again, it’s basic customization but it works and opens the doors to the possibility of interesting combinations.

The 2 boss fight changes things around. Instead of just heading to the boss Zuke and Mayday fight a series of small fights leading up to Sayu. It’s nothing too many, just repeated enemies in different positions often broken up by platforming sections. It’s here that you get a taste of the platforming as you cannot change direction when jumping mid-jump. You can only change when performing a double jump, making platforming a bit harder than it needs to be. As most platformers allow for mid-air control. Each section is separated by a cool looking rail that places the bandmates on autopilot triggered by Mayday and Zuke’s music.

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After 9 battles Mayday and Zuke reach Sayu who has her own unique fight, arena, and musical score. All of which is just as amazing as Supernova. Reflecting her oceanic theme and being controlled by 4 High School computer experts Bunk Bed have to slowly destroy her upgrades. With each destroyed upgrade limiting Sayu’s offensive tactics.

The duo has to not only avoid Sayu’s attacks but the environmental hazards. As you progress new cinematics play that adds to the boss fight, with each member controlling the digital user adding their own tactic to the pool. As the fight continues Sayu becomes increasingly more hostile eventually leading up to 1 final fight against a disfigured fishy Sayu. With her using all of her tactics but now the player has to destroy clams to collect musical notes and shoot Sayu’s holograms. Leading to another showstopper finale that puts an end to Sayu.

In the final cinematic Mayday shows a softer side to herself. Until now she was very energetic and hot-headed but after seeing the kids offer them advice. That the things happening with Vinyl city are bigger then they understand and they shouldn’t let their talent go to waste. Showing that Mayday has more side than just hyper energy before the preview ends.

You can play the entire game with 2 players but in single-player, the other ally simply follows and performs no actions. They cannot be hurt and have their own health bar, which is nice. However, I would’ve preferred an ally you could support me during combat. The game was much easier with an ally.

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No Straight Roads’ gameplay isn’t anything truly ground defining but what it does offer is done very well is the stunningly colorful world and creative musical scores. The cinematic fights, exceptional unique musical world, and vivid characters quickly won me over. Mayday and Zuke’s dynamic is full of funny and heartfelt moments as the 2 attempts to save the less fortunate from the oppression caused by the NSR’s leadership. From what I experience No Straight Roads may become one of the best games this year and something everyone should keep on their radars.

Adam Siddiqui,
Managing Editor, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher(s): Sold Out Ltd.
Developer(s): Metronomik
Genres: Adventure
Themes: Music
Release Date: 2020-06-25

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