No Straight Roads Review: Rock Out and Bring a Revolution (Switch)

No Straight Roads takes that feeling you get of beating on a boss in time to the music and doesn't just go with it, it makes it a mechanic. Batter and blast anything in your way as you start a music revolution to take down an oppressive EDM regime with the power of rock music!

No Straight Roads Review: Rock Out and Bring a Revolution (Switch) coverRhythm games, while not exactly rare, are uncommon enough that when a good one crops up, you grip it tight and hold it like a high note. The same can be said for a good action-adventure game, something to keep the blood pumping. And Cuphead, while not the first in the world to do so, popularized the “mostly boss fights” style of game where rather than levels or zones, the focus was mostly on epic boss battles.

No Straight Roads combines all three of these aspects and the end result, while you’d think would be insane…well, it is insane. In a very good way.

No Straight Roads is currently available on PlayStation 4Xbox OneNintendo Switch, and Steam.

No Straight Roads - Launch Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Story: Change the System

In No Straight Roads, we are in the neon-soaked Vinyl City, where music is the lifeblood of the city. No, really. There’s this thing in the city center called the Grand Qwasa that can convert sound waves, specifically music, into electrical energy, and is used to power the city. Sounds like a good solution to an energy crisis, right? It would be, if it weren’t for the fact the city experiences constant rolling blackouts.

The Qwasa serves one other purpose; to evaluate musicians who participate in the Lights Up audition, hosted by the musical megacorp NSR. After a literal battle of the bands that serves as the game’s tutorial, and a pretty high output on the Qwasa, Bunk Bed Junction impressed the Megastars enough that…not buying, huh? Nope, even with a high score, the judges still have the final say. And their say is rock is over; EDM rules the roost.

Naturally, Mayday doesn’t take too kindly to this, but neither does the leader and boss of NSR, Tatiana, who kicks them out and bans rock music from all future auditions. Not long after, another blackout happens, and the only ones left with power are Tatiana and her Megastars.

Fed up and spoiling for a fight, Mayday and Zuke take up arms to take down the stars, and usher in an age of rock! 

As you make your way to the upper echelons of Vinyl City’s districts, taking down the head honchos in your way, you’ll come to learn more and more of the history of the city, and how NSR rose to the top, and what sparking a revolution really means.

Two halves of a revolutionary whole bringing change to the system.

Two halves of a revolutionary whole bringing change to the system.

The Characters: A Truly Dynamic Duo

No Straight Roads offers two playable characters; the bombastic, boyish bruiser Mayday, and the calm, cool, and schooled Zuke. Together, they form the indie rock band Bunk Bed Junction. Solo, you can switch between both characters to use their unique skills depending on the situation, or pair up with a friend locally for co-op fun. In No Straight Roads, it takes two to topple tyranny.


Mayday is the more fiery of the pair, action first, thinking a distant second. As the band’s guitarist, she’s flashy, loud, and always ready to step into the limelight. By her own admission, she’s a performer, made for the stage, and her personality is reflected in her playstyle. She deals slow, but powerful hits, and is focused highly on offense, with her personal transformation skill turning props into rocket launchers.

Loud, brash, and impulsive, Mayday hits slow, but hits hard.

Loud, brash, and impulsive, Mayday hits slow, but hits hard.


Zuke is the more focused and level-headed of the duo. Slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to come up with a solution, he uses the drums, and his head, to help usher in the revolution. Unlike Mayday, he’s more combo-focused and gears more towards support and defense, with his unique transformation skill creating healing items. A combo master, Zuke is weaker overall, but can dish out a lot of hits in a short amount of time.

Three Cs and chill as an autumn breeze, Zuke has a good head on his shoulders, and a good beat in his drumsticks.

Three Cs and chill as an autumn breeze, Zuke has a good head on his shoulders, and a good beat in his drumsticks.

Gameplay: Music and Might Makes Right

The battles are where No Straight Roads shines, with each one being crazier than the last. A DJ with an ego so large he’s a literal black hole, an aquatic Hatsune Miku with a dark secret, a piano prodigy, a literal boy band factory, and the very abstract concepts of art itself form the roster of No Straight Roads. While you can just button mash your way through things, fighting and dodging on beat is what helps keep you alive the longest, and your attacks the strongest. Each boss has phases as you whittle down their health, prompting you to use the most of your skills and knowledge to take them down. Part of this is the parry mechanic, where if timed right, you can nullify incoming purple-toned damage and send it right back at the enemy. Cuphead fans, how happy are you right now?

DJ Subatomic Supernova is the exception, since his fight essentially serves as the game’s tutorial, but from the second boss onwards, you’ll have stages to go through on your way to the boss, requiring some skilled platforming and taking down a bunch of enemies in your way. This fleshes things out more, not to mention give you greater avenue to use any new skills you might’ve picked up. Taking down bosses nets you fans, which serve as the XP system in No Straight Roads. More fans, more skills to unlock to make you a force to be reckoned with.

Fights can be challenging and enjoyable, even if it feels like you’re getting obliterated. Which, honestly, will happen, the Megastars have those titles for a reason. But between bashing with a guitar/drumsticks and shooting them from afar, you won’t be wanting for damage, and the meter will shift in your favor soon.

As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock more skills and moves for the duo, such as being able to recover health, increase the number of hits in your combo string, even improve your transformation move to unleash even deadlier attacks. You also have the option to attach stickers to your gear for effects like increasing your attack and defense, though they only last for a single fight, win or lose, so use wisely!

Collectibles also abound in Vinyl City; stray Qwasa to power up the city and give a little background on the world of No Straight Roads are hidden all around, catering right to the completionist’s heart.

It finally happened. KPOP has been weaponized.

It finally happened. KPOP has been weaponized.

Graphics and Audio: New Age Old-School

If the boss battles shine, the music DAZZLES. As a game with music as an actual focus, each track is an absolute banger, from the cool nighttime vibes of the Vinyl City backstreets, to the interstellar bass of DJ Subatomic Supernova’s (actual name, not even kidding) neverending rave. Every track is carefully crafted, and since you’re literally in a musical battle most of the time, you can expect some choice cuts. When the boss battles are neutral, the standard version of the theme plays, but depending on who’s winning, it’ll switch to a rock-centric one with pounding drums and sizzling guitar, or an EDM-centric one with beats you just can’t help but groove to. It’s where the love and care Metronomik put into the game really shows, and there’s more than a few tracks that’ll be rolling around in your ears long after you’ve shut the game off.

Visually, No Straight Roads is as much a feast for the eyes as the ears. The backstreets and sewer that Mayday and Zuke call home offer a gritty red carpet before spilling out into the glitzy plaza of Vinyl City ease you into the game’s beauty. Taking a lot of inspiration from Malaysian culture (fitting as Metronomik is Mayalsia-based), the characters from main to side have character cutouts that pop, and voice acting that breathes life into their appearances, however brief. The Megastar-run districts match their owner’s personalities, such as the Cast Tech District, run by DJ Subatomic Supernova, looking like combination rave and planetarium. Everything, from the sweeping skylines to the collectibles and points of interest scattered around makes No Straight Roads feel alive, and you’re sure to find yourself looking around less for the hidden items, and more for just the sheer joy of it.

No Straight Roads was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.

Part rhythm game, part platformer, part boss rush, No Straight Roads takes the best parts of these genres and forms a fun, groovy whole that'll have your ears tingling, heart pumping, fingers twitching, and feet tapping. For Metronomik’s first game, you wouldn’t think it given how much of a blast No Straight Roads is. In fact, in this author’s opinion, the only major downside to it is that it feels too short. But even if that’s the case, the game doesn’t drag on to the point of fatigue, each little collectible or side mission or story beat sitting comfortably where it needs to be. I picked this game up for the premise alone, but the bosses and music definitely helped me stay.
  • Absolutely stellar soundtrack
  • Art style is colorful and vibrant
  • A story that's engaging, heartwarming, and hilarious
  • Too short unless you go the completionist route
  • A bit of fuzzy compression in handheld mode

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