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PAX East 2019: Simogo’s Sayonara Wild Hearts – First Impressions

Back at the 2018 Game Awards, the first reveal of the annual videogame awards ceremony came from Annapurna Interactive with Sayonara Wild Hearts. Announcing that the new game from Simogo is a “Pop Album Video Game” introducing neon-emphasized visuals, motorcycles, skateboards, and dance battles.

This past PAX East I got my hands on the upcoming title to test the waters for what will be coming with the full version of the game. Instantly I was grabbed from all it has to offer just from the demo alone: the rhythmic button presses when dodging altercating characters, overwhelmingly accepting color palette, and fast-paced controls are some of the few things that really stood out to me.

The demo covers the prologue of the game and the first passage involving a battle between ‘The Fool’ and the Dancing Devils. Staring off with a skateboarding segment; feeling out how the character controls by following a line of hearts & jumping through hoops sharing the same shape is both easy to pick up and addicting. Along with the custom-written pop soundtrack that sits in the background, the trails of hearts responds to the song as you follow them and progresses to expand the anticipation the more you do so.

The objective rather than attempting to maintain a mistake-free playthrough is replaced with how many points you earn can from collecting hearts and interacting with quick time events at the right moment. When you do have a mishap though, the game loads you in practically seconds prior to the moment you messed up and gets you right back into the groove.

Reaching the second portion of the demo after transforming into ‘The Fool’, you are then equipped with a motorcycle and race through a neon-painted city dodging cars & racing around sharp corners before running into the three Dancing Devils. You fight the trio by hitting the action button as the beat queues during the song which rewards you with an ‘Ok’, ‘Good’ or ‘Perfect’. The better the score, the better the song will progress.

After the fight scene you follow the three on your motorbike into a speed-fueled chase. With each chase sequence varying in how the game is laid out: at one point you will be running through an open corridor to jumping through a moving trolley to dodging fire balls in tight alleyways.

What truly helps makes the game more intriguing is the use of captivating angles the cameras holds as you play through the demo. Revolving around the character either by simply following from behind or using a striking perspective from a distance makes the game more unique as it continuously changes the further you advance.

For the part that I honestly enjoyed the most is after each devil will taunt at you, the song reaches the climax with both the beat as well as the vocals as the protagonist flies through the ravine that breaks in the pavement.

From the aesthetically pleasing visuals, addicting gameplay, and fitting soundtrack, all together it kept me glued to the screen until the end of the demo and hungry for more. With the demo being only the first of five different scenarios you will be able to play in the full game, I’m eager to play the rest of the game.

Sayonara Wild Hearts has a slated release date of 2019 for Nintendo Switch.

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