Hi-Fi Rush Beckons The Need For More High-Budget Comedy Games

AAA games need to take it easy and laugh a little.

                                                                            Story Highlights

  • Hi-Fi Rush is an action-rhythm game developed by Tango Gameworks and published by Bethesda. 
  • The comedic writing in Hi-Fi Rush gives it a very specific charm that makes the game easy to revisit.
  • I would love to see more AAA games making comedic-style games. 

A game that I often find myself thinking about lately is 2023’s seminal Hi-Fi Rush. A character action game that combines the design sensibilities of games such as Devil May Cry with rhythm-based inputs and features the stylings of a Saturday Morning Cartoon.

Hi-Fi Greatness

It’s an insanely fun romp with some fantastic music featuring big industry names like Nine Inch Nails and The Prodigy as well as less popular names such as the amazing Number Girl. The combat is fast and satisfying with creative enemies that all fight differently and force you into difficult situations.

On the higher skills, it’s a mechanically demanding game that keeps you on your toes, and it’s one of the go-to action games that I play whenever I need that certain fix. 

YouTube video

I treat a few action games this way — The first two Bayonetta games, Devil May Cry 3, and SIFU — but in nearly all of those games I skip everything unrelated to the gameplay. With Hi-Fi Rush, however, even on my fourth playthrough, I watch nearly every single cutscene. It’s a joy to watch its hyper-stylized cutscenes that seamlessly phase between 3D and 2D. One of my favorite moments in the story even syncs the action on-screen to the music running in the background.

Hi-Fi Rush
Hi-Fi Rush is a visual feast fusing the aesthetics of a PS2 action game with a Saturday morning cartoon. (Source: Steam)

But my favorite part about Hi-Fi Rush is the writing and the performances. It’s a charming, witty game that’s filled with jokes and little gags that never really feel obnoxious. Some of it is even subtle in a way that you won’t notice until your second or even your third playthrough, like a note early in the game of a robot modifying the coffee machines to just serve decaf.

Daily Hi-Fi Rush Questions #11: What’s the funniest moment in the game to you?
byu/PKdude2712 inHiFiRush

That note pays off near the end of the game when a character drinks coffee and gets furious when he’s told that it’s decaf. Alongside these small jokes, the game also has plenty of gags, such as an elaborate sequence near the end of the game which is a direct homage to the PS1 classic Xenogears or a “boss” whose health bar is his budget which you slowly drain by forcing him to throw more and more expensive obstacles your way. 

It’s something that makes me wish games would try taking it a little easy. More games that embrace the goofy and absurd. I strongly believe that humor holds just as much weight as drama. Hell in certain stories, like 2018’s Western masterpiece Red Dead Redemption 2, the comedic tone of the first half greatly enhances the drama of its latter half. 

It’s a charming, witty game that’s filled with jokes and little gags that never really feel obnoxious.”

Comedy And Drama

Even in film and TV, comedy actors have proven to deliver incredible, career-defining performances. Both Breaking Bad and its sequel Better Call Saul feature leading men who have a history in comedy. Before Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston was known for being one of the leading characters in Malcolm in the Middle, a comedy sitcom.

Similarly, Bob Odenkirk used to star in numerous sitcoms ranging from Arrested Development to How I Met Your Mother. The gist is, that comedy is an art, and it deserves the same appreciation as any drama. It’s a shame that it’s not often represented in AAA games and the ones that do try end up as uh…

YouTube video

One series that particularly excels at not just comedy, but also keeping a balance between comedy and drama is the Yakuza series. It’s a series that has slowly mastered tonal balance, flawlessly shifting gears from a side quest about helping “Miracle Johnson” and “Steven Spinning” film a bootleg version of MJ’s Thriller to a devastating and heartbreaking confrontation between Kiryu and his sworn brother Nishikiyama. 

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Side Quests
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth’s side quests carefully balance the series’ wacky humor and its emotional thematic core. (Source: eXputer)

The latest game in the series, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, is just as good at this. Even more so, Infinite Wealth deepens its side quests by directly imbuing them with the same parallel that was present between the side quests and main stories in the other entries, except at a more microscopic level. This time the side quests themselves try to balance tonal consistency between funny and dramatic and while sometimes it falters a bit, when it works, it’s untouchable.

All Fun and Games 

I love seeing games tackle comedy, some of my favorite video game stories are rich with humor. Games such as the Yakuza series, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and the aforementioned Hi-Fi Rush prove that comedy is an often untapped genre in AAA that deserves a lot more representation than it currently gets.

Video games are an inherently joyful thing, which makes me glad to see titles such as High on Life and Hi-Fi Rush doing as well as they have. One of the main reasons Helldivers 2 has been this year’s biggest hit is thanks to its satirical nature. It’s a game that pulls players in on the joke, and seeing its success, it’s obvious the players aren’t complaining. 

Also keeping in account, the success of these kinds of games in the indie scene, it’s obvious that players love humor when it’s done well. I hope we get more stories in the AAA space that give comedy the representation that it very much deserves. 

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Nameer Zia is a video game News Writer on eXputer obsessed with hunting down all the latest happenings in the industry. Nameer has been gaming for more than 15 years, during which he has spent more than 3,000 hours on Overwatch 1 & 2. As a literature student, his literary chops feed into his passion for games and writing, using eXputer as the medium to deliver the latest news in the industry. Websites such as GamingBolt and IGN have also credited his works.

Experience: 4+ Years || Previously Worked At: Tech4Gamers || Education: Bachelors in English Literature.

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