Simogo's Switch debut combines Rez, Elite Beat Agents, and Swedish Eurovision performances.
Immediately after I finished the demo for Sayonara Wild Hearts at PAX East, I paused. I was playing it handheld, nestled inside of Annapurna’s booth. I had headphones on. Could I, I wondered, get away with playing through the demo again? Unfortunately, I had to shuffle to another appointment, but I would have been content romping through the dazzling and magical showcase of Simogo’s bright, beautiful, rhythm adventure.
Following the reveal last December, Sayonara Wild Hearts dazzled with style but I didn’t know exactly what it was. Turns out it’s something akin to Rez or Elite Beat Agents, focusing on moving around and pressing buttons in time with music. The music is all made by the Simogo team in Sweden. Their goal is to make a pop album that you play through. The word from Annapurna calls it “a euphoric, interactive pop album about being awesome, riding motorcycles, skateboarding, dance battling, shooting lasers, wielding swords, and breaking hearts at 200mph.” That kind of sums it up weirdly well.
The demo is a wild ride through multiple tracks and play styles. In some, you’re hurtling forward, moving between different lanes freely, trying to collect gems and items. In others, you have to time button presses in a way common to rhythm games; that’s where it gets real Elite Beat Agents-like. Throughout all of it is a soundtrack that feels like I could hear it come out of Sweden in the next Eurovision.
This is an elegant, bewildering vertical slice of Sayonara Wild Hearts that is equal parts magical and mesmerizing. I am captivated by what this game is selling and it has rocketed forward to become one of my most anticipated 2019 titles. While I enjoy similar styled games like Rez and Thumper, the optimism and vibrance pulsing through this playable pop album set it above from other rhythm game experiences. If the rest of the album/game rocks as hard as this demo, Sayonara Wild Hearts could ascend to platinum-selling status.