“….Sayonara Wild Hearts has refused to leave my brain in the four years since its release.”
As far as previous games we’ve featured in this little series of ours go, Sayonara Wild Hearts is the easiest sell of all when it comes to games you should play before you die, based solely on the fact that you can complete it in an hour and a half. If you’re worried about adding to your already bloated backlog with yet another game, just remember that you can have this one done in a single sitting if you put your mind to it, and you definitely should, because what awaits you is an utterly beautiful experience.
Sayonara Wild Hearts is an equal parts rhythm action game and visualiser for one of the catchiest pop albums you’ll ever listen to. Each level of the game switches up the formula in exciting and unique ways, whether you’re riding a motorcycle through a neon-lit city, dashing through the forest trying to avoid a giant, multi-headed wolf mecha, or using a bow and arrow to shoot down flying skulls.
If gameplay is all you’re after, the constant change of pace and inventive levels should be more than enough to appeal to most players, especially if you love rhythm action games. Sayonara Wild Hearts feels like the natural evolution of games like Rez, only with a lot more pinks and purples, instead of the orange-tinged Lawnmower Man aesthetics of Rez.
I want to be clear, I say that with love. Rez is still an amazing game.
Coming to Sayonara Wild Hearts for just the gameplay is missing most of the point though, as there’s so much more to offer here. The music, for instance, should earn this game nominations for one of the best gaming soundtracks ever made, with bangers like Begin Again, Wild Hearts Never Die and The World We Knew that’ll be stuck in your head long after the credits have rolled.
However, the real highlight here is the story, even if it’s about as vague as plots get. Sayonara Wild Hearts follows someone recovering from a previous heartbreak, but aside from that, the game asks you to fill in the blanks for yourself, allowing you to form your own conclusions about the characters, the story and the symbolism on display. It’s that vagueness which allows Sayonara Wild Hearts to become a simply unmissable experience.
The joy of Sayonara Wild Hearts’ story is that it can mean different things to different people, depending on what’s important or relevant to their lives. Many people online have found parallels with their experiences regarding queer love or coming to terms with being transgender, both of which are hinted at within the cutscenes of Sayonara Wild Hearts. Personally, the story and symbolism helped me to come to terms more with my depression and mental health. Unfortunately, Sayonara Wild Hearts can’t get my ADHD assessment sorted, but that’s another story.
A true indicator of whether or not a game should class as something to play before you die is whether or not the game in question sticks with you after you’re done with it, and Sayonara Wild Hearts has refused to leave my brain in the four years since its release. If that’s not a sign that it’s something you should go out of your way to experience, I don’t know what is.
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