Hi-Fi Rush Is Among 2023’s First Games To Embody The Spirit Of Gaming

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Story Highlights

  • Hi-Fi Rush has been developed by Tango Gameworks—a studio vastly known for its work on survival horror games. Expanding their portfolio, however, the Japanese developer has silently dropped Hi-Fi Rush in recent times.
  • Despite not being a AAA project, Hi-Fi Rush delivers what a game is expected to deliver and has received a glowing reception from critics and players alike.
  • More developers and corporations need to realize that their focus leans heavily on one side, which impacts the bigger picture of gaming.

The start of 2023 has been quite underwhelming when it comes to gaming. Forspoken‘s reception and the aftertaste of The Callisto Protocol’s disappointment didn’t really have a positive impact.

As we get close to the end of January, we saw the release of Dead Space which turned out to be really good. However, there’s another entry that appeared out of nowhere and took us by surprise – Hi-Fi Rush.

The game is being a bit overshadowed by Dead Space’s remake, but it’s definitely seeing success despite being a shadow launch. 

What’s the deal with this title, and where did it come from? Prior to its launch, we were not even aware of its existence, let alone what it would be like. A rhythm-based action game with its own sense of style, Hi-Fi Rush has launched to glowing reviews and is already loved by the players.

Shinji Mikami & Tango Gameworks

We’re all quite familiar with Shinji Mikami as someone who worked on countless Resident Evil titles, including Resident Evil 4. Having worked with Capcom since the late 1980s and elevating the survival horror genre to prominence, Shinji Mikami wanted to broaden his horizons and explore other projects.

To that end, Mikami-san and a small group of developers founded Tango, which later came to be known as Tango Gameworks. Their goal was to explore new ideas and develop new projects, as being associated with just one genre felt limiting.

While their initial project evolved to the point of becoming The Evil Within, they continued to explore new ideas.

Tango initially ran into some financial complications during which Bethesda Softworks, the parent company of Bethesda, acquired the studio. From that point on, known as Tango Gameworks, the studio released several titles such as The Evil Within, The Evil Within 2, Ghostwire: Tokyo, and Hi-Fi Rush.

From a creative point of view, it’s easy to see why Mikami-san wanted to pursue other projects. With the release of Ghostwire: Tokyo in 2022 and Hi-Fi Rush this week, it’s safe to say that they’re able to deliver great experiences even outside of survival horror.

The Origin of Hi-Fi Rush & Its Launch

Hi-Fi Rush’s development goes way back. It most likely commenced around the same time as Ghostwire: Tokyo considering its release window and the general development cycle of a project

The game was not leaked until its reveal on 25th January at the Bethesda Developer Direct. Its title and logo did surface online a day prior but that’s not a substantial leak. Considering the age we live in, the fact that this was the only leak and a day before its reveal is a big thing.

Not only did the game launch a few hours after it was announced, but the development history of this title is also quite interesting. I mentioned earlier how Tango Gameworks basically wanted to explore areas other than survival horror. It was a decision most likely fueled by creative desire.

What Gaming Is At Its Core

Video games have existed since the previous century, going from their origin to the arcades and then eventually home consoles. In my opinion, games are pretty much an embodiment of fun and creativity. The fact is that people find enjoyment in many different types of things. The same can be said for games and their genres.

While some may enjoy platformers, others may enjoy story-driven RPGs or Visual Novels. There has always been a lot of variety here, and we love it. The landscape, however, is not the same anymore. While the goal of video games was always to make money, the method or process by which you can make money has changed.

I’m not going to go in-depth here but shifting the focus from making a good game to making a good system to get a player to shell out their hard-earned money was the cause. This practice, over the course of time, has impacted gaming and the creativity that was a part of it. It’s gotten to the point where some countries even took legal action.

Look around you, and everywhere we see remakes and remasters, pointless DLC, gacha systems, “breathtaking” visuals, etc. I’m not against evolution and growth, but while some titles deserve remakes and special treatment, most do not.

Last of Us Part 1 is a recent example. There was also the fuss about the Horizon Zero Dawn remake, and people asked – what’s the point?

The Bastion Of Gaming

I want to emphasize that DLCs aren’t inherently bad. There’s a proper way to do it, and many developers do it right. FromSoftware is one example among many. However, fun is often excluded today in the name of pointless pursuits, with the end goal being to make more money.

Ask yourself, would you rather have groundbreaking RTX and particle effects in a game that has no substance? Or would you prefer a game that has a good story and substance, is fun, and has good visuals?

A complete package, in other words. Forspoken is a great example. Downgraded visuals and a game with potential that couldn’t be realized. 

Forspoken Graphical Comparison
Forspoken (2020 Reveal Trailer) vs. Forspoken (Global Release)

While we still get AAA gems like Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarok, as a whole, the state of AAA, in my opinion, is laughable.

On the other hand, indie games tend to embody all that gaming is meant to be. I personally believe indie games, along with some of these AAA devs like FromSoftware and Santa Monica, are the bastion of gaming in modern times.

Of course, there are a few other studios out there who still manage to deliver great AAA experiences, but let’s face it, it’s not the same as it used to be anymore.

Hi-Fi Rush isn’t an indie title, but it’s not a AAA project either. It falls somewhere in the middle and tries its best to check all the boxes. Based on the overwhelming response despite the shadow launch, it’s safe to say it was successful in doing so.

Hi-Fi Rush & What Developers Need to Realize

I believe the voice that matters the most is of the consumer. In the gaming scene, the player is essentially the consumer. If you go to Metacritic’s website and look up Hi-Fi Rush, you can pretty much tell what the players think about this game.

Check forum posts, steam reviews, and YouTube comments. Players, at the end of the day, want a game that’s fun and enjoyable.

Hi-Fi Rush looks great. It has amazing visuals, and its stylish presentation sets itself apart in a sea of bland and realistic graphics enhanced by this technology that adds minimal overall value to the experience. Don’t forget that people still play retro games and titles from the days of PS1 and PS2.

They don’t have these graphical technologies, but they have something else – they’re good games. That’s all there is to it. While striking visuals definitely look amazing, they also have the potential to attract player attention away from what really matters.

Developers as a whole need to be ambitious again, but it’s easier said than done when the corporate shadows continue to loom. Bad practices, unrealistic expectations, and demands, the unnecessary shift in focus all in the name of making more money.

Corporations need to realize that they will make money if they make good games, and mastering one aspect is not going to make a good game. But no one ever said no to more money, and as long as people continue to indulge, corporations will continue the practices. 

But not everything is all doom and gloom. As long as we have some folks who care about imagination and creativity and aren’t exactly averse to taking risks, gaming will continue to persist. There’s a lot to come in 2023, and Hi-Fi Rush is one example of what gaming should really be.

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