No Straight Roads Is All About Ending An EDM Empire With A Rock Revolution

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no straight roads preview

In No Straight Road’s dystopian future, EDM rules the world. It’s not only the most popular music genre, but it’s the social currency and power for Vinyl City, the monolithic city at the heart of Wan Hazmer’s musical action-adventure.

Playing as rockers Mayday and Zuke, you’re tasked with auditioning for the NSR, the shady organisation running the city and deciding what to do with the limited energy supply available.

Despite generating more than enough power and excitement to proceed in the audition process, Mayday and Zuke are unceremoniously disqualified. A later announcement decrees “rock is banned from Vinyl City” and anyone found to be performing it will be punished.

Moments later, Mayday and Zuke uncover a city-wide conspiracy to hoard power and keep it supplied only to the rich. They realise rock has been banned because it has the power to generate electricity for the entire town, destroying the dystopian class system denying basic necessities to the poorer people of Vinyl City.

The borough where Mayday and Zuke hail from has limited power supply and suffers most when blackouts hit. Certain areas in the hub world will be locked off because of this, but collecting mini-quasi energy cores littered around the world can restore these areas, gain Bunk Bed Junction new fans and let you explore more of the map.

The game is fairly linear and follows Mayday and Zuke through a variety of themed boroughs in their quest to overthrow the NSR.

As you roam free, you can take charge of either Mayday or Zuke. Mayday is a guitarist with a heavy attack while Zuke is a drummer with faster, lighter attacks and the ability to heal. As you progress through the opening chapters, you’ll be able to unlock special skills and build attack damage, speed and other stats based on how many ‘fans’ you accrue. Fans can be recruited by nailing boss battles and restoring power to impacted boroughs. The more fan power you have, the more you’ll be able to upgrade Mayday and Zuke’s abilities.

You’ll need to level up fast, too, because the game’s boss battles tend to be unforgiving.

The first boss battle in the preview Kotaku Australia played was against a phat DJ known as DJ Subatomic Supernova.

no straight roads preview

This boss fight took place in a cylindrical chamber where all the action orbited DJ. Playing as either Mayday or Zuke (or swapping between as needed), players are required to avoid rotating spheres as they speed past and destroy them to gain musical notes for long-range attacks. The first phase is fairly simple, but each one ups the ante and makes the action more complicated.

The second phase introduces rotating planets and speeds the action up a smidge. This time, you’ll need to pay more attention to the beat as objects and lasers will fly out in an unforgiving rhythm you’ll need to internalise to survive.

Music is central to the action of No Straight Roads and the best attacks and parries require paying attention to the toe-tapping beat.

In the final phase of the boss fight, players travel along a musical bar and time parries to teh song’s beat. If you have no rhythm, you’ll end up wearing every attack and dying before the end. You might need to play the fight several times before you get into the groove ⁠— but tapping or bopping along will help your concentration greatly.

The major quirk defining No Straight Roads is its reliance on musical beats and solid timing to advance. Thankfully, the soundtrack in the opening chapters is genuinely catchy and it’s easy to get into the groove of things. While it’s a concept proving to be very popular lately (Crypt of the NecroDancer, Sayonara Wild Hearts and Metal: Hellsinger spring to mind) No Straight Roads builds out its neo-fascist uprising story in quirky and unique ways.

It’s got ultra-stylish character designs and world reeking of cool. The hub world features a number of diverse terrains even in the opening chapters and there’s plenty to gawk at.

Protagonist Mayday is particularly delightful and has a cheeky, outspoken style and fashion-forward look. It’s easy to get behind her and believe in Bunk Bed Junction’s cause.

To overthrow the NSR’s strict regime, Bunk Bed Junction is tasked with travelling throughout Vinyl City and hijacking the concerts of prominent EDM performers like DJ Subatomic Supernova. Each successful takeover earns the band more fan power and helps them build their abilities for the next borough.

Be warned: Not every boss fight is a breeze. Even the game’s second boss ramped up the difficulty to near-unfair levels.

The second boss fight (and the final one for the preview) was against a Hatsune Miku-like program known as Sayu.

While DJ Subatomic Supernova was a fairly simple boss requiring only a few playthroughs to understand and defeat, Sayu presents a massive challenge. To get to her DJ set, Mayday and Zuke need to conquer a ten-area dungeon filled with hard-hitting robots.

When players finally confront Sayu, the boss fight takes place in multi-part, multi-arena battles. You’ll have to destroy the files controlling Sayu before you can face her, which unlocks larger files over several stages.

You’ll also need to avoid multiple enemies and obstacles while you go about erasing her files including a giant homing laser, several smaller homing arrows, giant data worms, waves of energy, bopping robots and data streams. You’ll need to be paying careful attention to this battle because resting for even a moment can lead to certain death.

While switching between characters allows them to heal, both Mayday and Zuke start out with fairly limited health and it’s very easy to die.

Eventually, you’ll unlock Sayu’s bad side and initiate the final stages of the battle where even more homing missiles come out of the works. It’s a frantic battle but also very frustrating. No Straight Roads does not feature boss checkpoints, so if you die you’ll need to head back to the very beginning of the Sayu fight.

This boss battle can take up to 15 minutes depending on how you play, so having to redo it all again was extremely rage-inducing. There was also no difficulty toggle in the preview, so there’s a fair chance it might be too difficult for some.

The key here was to play through the battle multiple times and memorise timing for enemies, obstacles and missiles. With enough skill (or dumb luck), you’ll get there in the end.

Both the boss fights in the preview were wildly different from each other and required unique tactics to get by. It meant every part of the preview felt exciting, with better and more useful tactics discovered in every playthrough.

So far, No Straight Roads feels like a unique spin on a genre quickly gaining popularity. It’s filled with tons of frantic moments, personality, a great visual aesthetic, and heaps of toe-tapping music. No Straight Roads should absolutely be on your radar.


No Straight Roads will release August 25 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Version for the Nintendo Switch and PC will launch at a later date — but if you want to get in early, the Epic Games Store will have a demo available from Tuesday.

Comments

  • Sounds really interesting, but having rage inducing boss battles so early will probably alienate a lot of people.

  • Well I’m on board! This looks badical. Cheers for the no-commentary video.

    It’s a shame there’s not a reverse side situation, where folks who prefer EDM can overthrow rock… oh well!

  • Maybe its because I’m tired n cranky tonight (well more than usual anyway), but you’d think an old rocker like me would love this (A metal loving roadie who also digs EDM, fyi with a 25 year long career- Yup, 25 long, hard years of setting up everything as small as local pub gigs, weddings and barmitzvahs as well as everything “slightly” larger, all the way up to stadium filling concerts and weekend long festivals), you’d think i would be “Hell Yeah!”-ing all over a game like this, but honestly, after working with musos from literally ALL the genres known to humankind (even experimental, weird-ass noise/art shite with a whole 6 fans!), I’ve found the whole “rock/punk/metal vs dance/rap/techno/disco/EDM schtick is a tired-ass trope that serves nobody well. Just another weaksauce attempt at a plot and worse, another excuse for an Us against Them scenario that in 2020, seems rather (ironically) tone-deaf, anachronistic and regressive. Hell, didn’t Anthrax and Public Enemy bust that myth like 30 odd years ago? Followed my many, many crossovers that have repeatedly spawned new musical variations that have lifted us all up at one point or another in our lives, yeah? I thought we were all about collaborating and coming together as people not discriminating and stereotyping these days? Or was it ok for woke-ness to sleep in the day they thought this game up and therefore it’s totally ok to hate people based on thier taste in music because of a dire lack of credible worldbuilding allowed this ethical loophole? Why isnt Nathan Grayson my brother in arms when i need him to see this tyrany? Ok, i kid, but anyone who thinks music is better off when it’s segregated deserves to have their sense of hearing cancelled! In fact the only form of music going nowhere is top 40 pop, because bland prepackaged “Oooh baby, baby” tracks don’t need to evolve. They are just there to be inoffensively bland background noise, be snapped up by the bland, boring majority to float the industry’s more creative and less commercial projects, used as an obvious comparison against quality musical craftspersonship and then to finally wind up as the next generations’s elevator muzak. Sorry, if I’ve hugely digressed. Music means EVERYTHING to me, ok?
    I do have some legitimate questions about this game though.
    *The idea of player 2 being a drummer/combatant (in a streets of rage-esque style of beat em up with rhythym elements, yes?) sounds rather odd to me, especially when most drummers sorta just pretend to know what rhythym actually is. Just ask their wives and girlfriends if you don’t believe me!
    * Do they (or their techs) carry a full kit around, the street, a single drum on a strap, or are they just air drumming?
    *Or face drumming, maybe? If its the 1st option i guess they aren’t very mobile (unless it’s Tommy Lee’s badass flying drumkit) and if its option 2, I can’t see this character generating much power doing that, unless they have those toy sticks from the 80’s that were wired up to the worst tinny-ass speaker to be inflicted on ears ever. So that’s a big fuck no from me if that’s your in-game “kit”.
    * If they ARE air drumming, is the guitarist then air guitaring alongside them? If not, then you ain’t gonna hear shit from the poor lil drummer boy (Also, having actually air drummed away on any and every street surface like a chimp on speed while my mate effortlessly strolled and twangdoodled away on his axe was a sure fire way of showing the locals girls which of us was the cool one was (i’ll let y’all ponder that mystery on your own).
    * Another burning question i have is- Have you ever told a hardcore rocker girl that she is “fashion forward”?
    * And to follow that up, If you have, how many teeth did you lose?
    * Does the drummer have some sort of stealth mechanic due to barely anyone recognizing them?
    * Does the lead guitar draw aggro by announcing that he is a guitarist when nobody fucking asked?
    * Do the DJ bosses plug in their ipad and piss off backstage to scab ciggies and drugs off the crew mid battle?
    * Can you sic an underage groupie’s Dad on the DJ as an ult?

    Okay, I’m almost done.
    Maybe this game shouldn’t completely piss me right off, but it does, moreso after you mentioned the lack of polish, the twee, hyper-cheesy story (i know ive mentioned that already but it’s aroma of bullshit is distractingly pungent) and worst of all, the lack of boss fight checkpoints (even most real concerts have passouts, 1st aid tents and rowdy mates who would pick you up, dust you off, hand you an alcholic power-up and get you back into the moshpit ASAP).
    Yeah, hard fucking pass here.
    Perhaps if the story was about EVERY music lover all teaming up against Nanny-Empress Gladys and the NSW Govt’s NO FUN BRIGADES who are doing their absolute best to destroy live music IRL…
    And finally I’d like to thank these devs for pointing out that all the literal thousands of Kms of power cables I’ve been rolling out for bands all these years have actually been drawing power from the bands and not the other way around! My life has been a giant, coiled up, 32amp, 3 phase powered LIE!

    Maybe all this just reminds me how much i miss my pre-quarantine life. If invited I’d go a to a 4th rate Wiggles cover band that only use those recorder/flute thingys and set em up for free over sleepwalking through another 6 months (hell, another DAY) of life without live music. Rock OR EDM. Preferably both.
    TLDR-Cranky old roadie hates game by devs with no fucking clue about how bands or music works. Hates non existant forced rivalry even more. Hates the term “Fashion Forward” being used to describe rockers even more than that.

  • Weird. It’s almost exactly the same premise as “Legend of Avatar Country: A Metal Odyssey” by Avatar. Even down to EDM being the villain.

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