Over the past two years, Metronomik has become a force to be reckoned with. Their debut game, No Straight Roads, became known throughout local and international indie gaming communities, winning awards including Best Audio at the 2019 Taipei Game Show and Best Indie Project at the 2019 Unreal Open Day — all before the game was even launched.
Having followed the game since its early demos, we were excited to finally get our hands on the game. Already, it was being praised for its unique music-driven concept, vibrant environments, and its Malaysian-infused world — but we had to try it for ourselves. If you’re considering getting your own copy, read on for our review!
For a closer look at the game, tune in to our live playthrough of No Straight Roads every weekend this September! Follow @themagicrainmy on Facebook to be notified when we go live.
A simple tale with plenty of heart
No Straight Roads tells the tale of indie rock band Bunk Bed Junction, as they embark on a quest to defeat the EDM empire and free Vinyl City using the power of rock. While its plot is as direct as they come, they make up for it with wild, eclectic levels and characters.
Bunk Bed Junction is the beating heart of the game with Su Ling Chan and Steven Bones breathing life into our protagonists, Mayday and Zuke. The contrast between Mayday’s hyperactivity and Zuke’s chill demeanor gives the game its humorous edge, even if the writing feels drawn out at times.
By following them on their journey, you unlock new areas of Vinyl City, each designed around a different genre of music. The game takes the opportunity to explore everything from digital idol to boy band – even parodying familiar tropes like the piano prodigy with an overbearing parent – making each level a refreshing experience. As the plot deepens, the game dives further into the boss’ backstories, adding depth to characters that players will love.
Gorgeous art style, and an even better soundtrack
Where the game truly shines is its design and soundtrack. Each area looks and sounds completely different, inviting players to explore every nook and cranny. Its character designs, especially, break the stereotypes of what a person should look like – and there’s no wonder, seeing as their creative team was inspired by shows like Steven Universe and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure among others.
Malaysians will be delighted to find tributes to their culture in almost every area. From the mamak-like eatery outside Bunk Bed Junction’s homebase, to the dikir barat inspired boss, DK West. It’s clear that Metronomik spared no expense when it came to cultural references, and Malaysian fans will love playing through the game to find more.
However, where you’ll find the most attention to detail is the music mixing. Not only does the background music become more complex as you progress in boss fights, transforming props into weapons adds a layer of rock music on top of the base track. How cool!
More like a traditional boss rush, than rhythm game
Although the game was marketed as a fusion of both music and battle mechanics, the final product unfortunately falls short. Certain battles live up to the game’s concept (VS Yinu and VS 1010, for instance), but most battles lack the rhythmic elements that would make this a music-driven game.
This makes No Straight Roads more of a traditional boss rush game, where the recipe to winning comes from learning the enemy’s attack patterns rather than responding to music cues. That being said, each level still offers something unique so players will never be bored playing through them.
While each battle offers a decent level of difficulty from the get-go, competitive players can look forward to unlocking new difficulty options once you beat a boss the first time. By challenging again on Hard or Crazy mode, you’ll receive bonus collectibles that unlock more of the boss’s backstory.
This also helps in “grinding” to unlock more upgrades for Mayday and Zuke, which are essential to make your next boss battle easier to beat. Our recommendations? Unlock Mayday’s More Than One Transformer, and Zuke’s One with the Universe. You’re welcome!
Differences in the Nintendo Switch port
If you’re playing No Straight Roads on the Switch (like we are!), take note of the key differences in this port:
- Play up to three players: Mayday, Zuke, and their pet alligator Elligator! Ellie helps the other players by picking up items, transforming props and calling in extra bonuses. However, make sure to choose your teammates wisely otherwise you’re in for a chaotic time!
- Use the Switch’s touchscreen to pick up items and transform props.
- Expect lower resolution graphics in the Switch port, especially when you’re in Bunk Bed Junction’s homebase.
Verdict: Not perfect, but worth a play!
Despite its flaws, I found myself spending a lot of time on No Straight Roads. Its story and characters crept into my heart, as did its soundtrack on my Spotify playlist. There are levels of challenge for both casual and seasoned players, and those who love the game will find there’s plenty of options when it comes to replaying it.
Ultimately, it’s a great concept with good gameplay for a debut indie game. Given more time with this game, Metronomik would definitely reach new heights in the Malaysian gaming industry – and beyond.
Review copy provided by Metronomik.