While NO STRAIGHT ROADS has been delayed, ahead of its initial release date of 30 June 2020, we received a preview build so that we can show you guys what we’re all gonna get once it drops like the beat! Without further ado, let’s jump right into Vinyl City.
Our dynamic duo, Mayday and Zuke, reside in Vinyl City, a city of lights and music. Together, they form their indie rock band Bunk Bed Junction, eager to impress the big wigs of NSR: the CEO, Tatiana, and some of their superstars. As it turns out, NSR dismisses their music, calling rock outdated and only accepting EDM. Thus spurned, Mayday and Zuke are out to spark a music revolution against the domination of NSR and its EDM music in Vinyl City, crashing their concerts and performances with the power of rock.
STEP, ONE, TWO…
Players will be able to swap between two characters, namely Zuke and Mayday. Mayday is the heavy and slow hitter, using her guitar to slam the EDM out of unfortunate props and opponents who stand in her way. Zuke is the drummer combo master, rapidly hitting out in succession at three hits to start but deals less damage compared to Mayday. Swap as needed, especially when either character is low on HP; when you’re controlling one character, the other will recover their HP. Only the actively controlled character – meaning you – will be dishing out the damage, as the AI will not fight.
Action and rhythm blend together in this game: you can try brute force your way, but you’ll find yourself whalloped in the face if you don’t follow the beat! You have to time your dodges and find the rest in between to attack. Certain attacks may glow purple: these are the ones you can parry to hit back at your enemy. The beat is especially important here, as they require the most precise timing to return the favour! Bob your head along as you listen to the music and give that enemy your answering roar!
There are also enemies that are flying or beyond your reach, at which point you’ll need to smack some item boxes or the environment to get musical note ammo to fire. You can only shoot the enemies that are highlighted in a thin frame, so keep those eyes peeled and get ready to rip.
IS THIS A DUET?
Bosses come with their own personalities and themes as you roll up to their doorstep to crash that party for your rock revolution. They go through three phases each, ramping it up as you get closer and closer to put them on mute.
The first boss, DJ Subatomic Super Nova, is up in the stars with his space and planet theme. Meteors and planets will be sent careening towards you, following their orbital path. There’ll be transformation points that you can find to assist in bringing this star down to earth, becoming weapons to attack. When you do find the purple attacks to parry, the game notes that parrying is optional and you can dodge instead, which will be a safer play if slower.
If you don’t manage to adapt fast enough to the tempo, it can be tough to take down the various bosses, as you get taken back to the first phase if you lose at any point. Once you do manage it, though, just savour that adrenaline rush you get from the music amping up, and winding down on your win as you realize… you’ve won. You’ve taken down another peg in the EDM empire that seemed so overwhelming at first. Hands shaking, coming off such an epic performance, take a breather until the next act.
The NSR don’t just decree EDM to be the ultimate music, virtually outlawing every other genre. They also control the power supply of the city, redirecting power only to the elite. As Zuke and Mayday, you’ll be tasked to find more power and reboot the city’s facility. In doing so, you’ll find fans who will support your actions (and rope them in to listen to your rock too). Wooing fans will affect your skill trees and what skills you can learn. You’re the rock star after all, go get those fans and pierce the heavens with your music! Show off your slick moves as you go through the stages to get the highest scores to get an even bigger adoring crowd!
Stickers are used to power up your weapons, with only two slots to start. So much for sponsors huh? The most basic Stickers can raise regular attack power by 3%. MODS is another feature to which you power up your characters, basically a MOD for special attacks and skills. Mayday has one called Mars Attack, shredding on that guitar and flinging it like a flaming boomerang. It does consume your energy to use. Even someone as keet as Mayday can’t keep screaming the whole time, right!
PAINTING THE TOWN ROCK
Walk around the alleys of Vinyl City to find power sources and stickers. If you want to move to a new area, though, you’ll have to take down the big bad of the District. Well, as big bad as they can get, as you hijack their – ew, EDM – performance for your – yay, rock! – concert, until you reach presumably ma’am Tatiana CEO herself. For a Malaysian made game, there’s local flavour infused into the various areas that you can find: your ubiquitous mamak, and both modern and historical Malaysian architecture.
Districts often follow their boss’ theme, so you’ll find pubs and nightclubs in DJ Subatomic Super Nova’s District. Another District boss, Sayu, is a virtual idol, so you’d find more game store buildings, anime stores for the connoisseurs and such like, clearly inspired by Japan’s Akihabara.
A 4/4 REST
While we can’t offer a full verdict from this game preview, this slice is already intriguing enough for us to want to become patrons of the Bunk Bed Junction; from just $5 a month you can get access to Patreon posts – uh wait a minute…
The rhythmic action battle system makes the game stand out from other action games, with each battle being a mini puzzle you need to solve to avoid getting strung along by your opponent’s flow. You have to learn how to play along until you get your chance to strike back, without overly marring the tempo until even you get thrown off.
The story so far is easy to follow, with interjections of comedy to keep the mood up and get the bants between your main duo and the bosses. Of course, it would be remiss to say nothing of the music, being the very heart and soul of the game, doubtless with bangers for you to loop on your playlist for the days to come. In the spirit of Malaysia Boleh, there’s also the various visual Easter eggs for the locals to point out and make some cultural in-jokes to maybe overexplain to your overseas friends.
Slip on those headsets and get ready for the ride.
|Battles have their unique mechanics to puzzle through||Attack animations may seem janky at times|
|Funky art style||Checkpoint starvation in boss fights|
|MUSIC, NEED WE SAY MORE|