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Preview: No Straight Roads

29 Jun 2020

Rock is dead. Nobody listens to that stuff anymore. It’s all about the electronic music nowadays! EDM! EDM!

At least, that’s the core conflict in the game No Straight Roads, developed by Metronomik and planned for release later this year. We had the opportunity to try out a new preview build on PC (via Epic Games Store), giving us a taste of the game’s opening hours.

No Straight Roads puts you in the shoes of both Mayday and Zuke, the sole members of the rock group Bunk Bed Junction. Their home of Vinyl City is powered by music, with artists being selected by a company known as “NSR” to use their music to power, well, everything. The game opens with Mayday and Zuke auditioning to become one of these power-providing musicians, but they are quickly slapped down under claims that “nobody listens to rock music anymore.”

Shortly after this, corruption in the NSR soon comes to light once a massive blackout hits Vinyl City, as all produced power is routed to NSR buildings and the clubs of its chosen musicians. Angry at the dismissal of rock music and the NSR’s corruption, Bunk Bed Junction sets out to take down the company’s select EDM artists and take back the city from the NSR’s grasp with ROCK!

No Straight Roads is an action platformer at its core. The preview build we had the chance to play through gave us a taste of the game’s core: big boss battles, platforming segments, and some collect-a-thon exploring through Vinyl City.

Immediately following the tutorial, I was thrust into the game’s first boss fight against DJ Subatomic Supernova – the same fight I experienced at PAX West last year. Feel free to check out that article for the full breakdown of this segment, but what I can say is that this newer build feels much more refined than the PAX demo. The tutorial and this fight felt much better paced, and drew me right into the game.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that pacing held up once I hit the next section of the demo, the exploration of Vinyl City. There wasn’t much “exploration” to talk about here, as the game tasked me with running a straight line to the next objecting, being able to pick up objects along the way. These objects can be used to bring power back to parts of the city, earning you “fans” in return – essentially a currency you can use to upgrade Mayday and Zuke’s combat skills.

To be fair, this demo took place in the opening hours of the game; there were a few gates around this portion of Vinyl City that I couldn’t open with my current skill set, so I presume there will be much more to explore in the full game.

After about 30 minutes of exploration and story, I entered into the next battle: a fight to take down Sayu, a digital idol commandeered by a team of four individual artists. This fight was preceded by the first real platforming part of the game, requiring navigating some simple platforms and taking out enemies to destroy the security surrounding Sayu.

The game’s combat is fairly straightforward – attacks are single-button affairs, with the main difference between controlling Mayday and Zuke being that the former hits harder, while the latter can sustain longer combos. Again, with this still being early in the game, the band’s skill set was at its most basic; there’s a decently extensive skill tree that appears to unlock more skills and special attacks for both characters.

The actual fight against Sayu was, honestly, my favorite part of this preview build. So much so that I went back and played it again after finishing it. Most of the fight involves dodging obstacles whilst chasing down Sayu, slowing breaking her down by taking out objects that pertain to the contributions of one of her four artists.

Music was the star of the show in this fight, a series of poppy EDM tracks that slowly get more up-tempo as the battle progresses and Sayu begins breaking down. This all eventually led up to a sequence where I had to escape from Sayu, accompanied by an aggressively up-beat track that is still stuck in my head at the time of writing.

The preview build ended here, and I have to say that I’m left with a much more positive outlook on this game compared to last year’s PAX demo. The world of No Straight Roads is bright, humorous, and intriguing, set to some truly catchy music (both on the Rock and EDM sides of the spectrum). The actual exploration of Vinyl City was rather limited here, but I’m holding out hope that it will be deeper and more involved upon the game’s final release.

No Straight Roads is set for release on August 25, 2019, for PC and PS4.

Preview copy provided by Metronomik for PC. Screenshots courtesy of Metronomik.