Sayonara Wild Hearts Review – Synth Pop Wonderland

Sayonara Wild Hearts Review

A good rhythm game should be entrancing and compelling as well as fun. Catchy music is all well and good, but you want tunes that will suck you right in, you know? Also, it helps if the game looks incredible. At least, these are the lessons I’ve learned since playing Sayonara Wild Hearts. My standards for rhythm games have been forever altered. The bar is most definitely raised.

For one thing, how many rhythm games use Sailor Moon-style transformation sequences? Not enough of them, surely. Wild Hearts opens with our hero finding their power in a dazzling scene reminiscent of the magical girl genre’s heyday. From there, it’s a whirlwind tour of the Tarot’s Major Arcana, with each confrontation connected by heartbreak. You know, that ephemeral force that can cross dimensional barriers? The whole story is told in dizzying cutscenes and charming narration, all without wasting your time in the slightest. I’ll take twenty seconds of intense visuals over dozens of slowly-recited text boxes any day.

Beautiful Heartbreak In Action

Aesthetic is crazy important in Wild Hearts. Everything blends together just so, and that includes the action prompts. Rather than smashing you in the face, the critical collectibles and actions meld seamlessly into the environment. Not so much that you miss them, but the pulsing hearts and glimmering tokens feel like they belong there. Nothing feels awkward or out of place. On that same note, failure is a blip on the radar, a brief break in the rhythm that stays out of your way as much as possible.

Sayonara Wild Hearts

There’s no shortage of failure on tap, by the way. If you simply want to see this thing done, you’ve no obstacles. However, if you want those gold rank scores on every stage, that’s a different story. Expect to suffer mightily in the pursuit of perfection. Thankfully, the experience is an exquisite one, softening the pain of practice and repetition. Not only does everything look lovely, but the music…!

I talk about music a lot on this site. It’s no secret that a good enough soundtrack can warm my heart on an otherwise mediocre game. To that end, believe me when I say that Sayonara Wild Hearts has a most excellent, a most exceptional soundtrack. Simogo has pulled out all the stops on this one. Not only have I sought out these tunes on Spotify, but I’m looking into the work of every artist involved in this project. Such a convergence of talent in one unassuming package cannot be overlooked. Unless compelling, dreamy synth pop does absolutely nothing for you, the music in this game is a major selling point.

Like any truly great pop album, the intensity builds and recedes in waves that grow ever higher. At first, you’re merely hopping from lane to lane on a simple stretch of road. Soon enough, you’re flying, sword-fighting, and dodging projectiles from a giant three-headed stag. The challenge level escalates with you, never feeling like too much. Unless of course you’re going for gold, in which case, good luck!

Never a Dull Moment

If I have any complaints, it’s that I wanted this game to be longer. You always hope the good times will last, but Wild Hearts breezes by in a flash. I was quite saddened by the sight of the end credits at first. Then it occurred to me that this game is essentially an album in disguise. By that measurement, it’s a little longer than I expected? While I still have high hopes for more, it’s akin to eagerly expecting the next album from a treasured band. These things just take time, you know?

My skills at rhythm games are middling at best. Whether or not I get better at a given title is entirely dependent on how compelled I feel to press on. With Wild Hearts, I’m eager to keep moving forward. Even the simple tones of success, the spacey glitters and tinkling synths of token acquisition, are a deep, bone-written impetus to continue. Between the infectious music and the gorgeous graphics, I’m going to have this experimental album on repeat for quite a while yet. Aside from its length, Sayonara Wild Hearts is basically a perfect rhythm game.

***A PS4 code was provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Music is exemplary
  • Graphics are gorgeous
  • Wide variety of challenges

The Bad

  • Wish it was longer
  • Needs more songs
  • Not enough stages