Sayonara Wild Hearts

Rhythm games can broadly be broken into two camps. There is the Guitar Heroes and DDRs, which are very much about rhythm and anticipation of beats. Then there is the Rezs’ and Audiosurfs, which are more about manifesting flow and a zen-like state.

Sayonara Wild Hearts is both. It phases between Audiosurf-like ‘driving’ sections and hit-the-button-on-the-beat QTEs, but it phases between them sensibly. The game understands musical structure and composition. The drop in a dubstep track rarely manifests a flow-like state. Instead its rhythm is front and center. Sayonara Wild Hearts’ duality of systems reflects this understanding.

But Sayonara Wild Hearts does not stop at just theory. There’s a story. Our protagonist traverses these wondrous worlds, implied to be of her own imagining, fighting off fantastical antagonists, because music is rarely experienced as just an intellectual pursuit.

Music manifests emotions, and our brain wants to understand the emotions, wants to understand us. Thus, it manifests a narrative in our minds, putting pictures to melody, conjuring worlds and characters like our unnamed protagonist does. If a song makes us feel like we can conquer the world, then in our mind’s eye we are doing just that.

Sometimes Sayonara Wild Hearts wants you to feel that kick drum. Sometimes it wants you to feel that chord, but really, it wants you to look in between. That liminal interval, between kick drum and snare, when the synth chord rises through the sidechain compression, you’ll find YOU.