Sayonara Wild Hearts is not a new game. In fact, it released way back in 2019 to critical success. However, I’d avoided the game until now as I had absolutely no idea what it was all about and whether or not I would actually like it. After finally succumbing to temptation in the latest e-shop sale, I finally could see what all the fuss was all about.
Needless to say that the game was so good that I had to write about my time with it. It won’t be a long review, as this is certainly a game you need to experience for yourself as fresh as possible, but so long as I can convince even one person to buy the game then I feel like my time has not been wasted.
Sayonara Wild Hearts follows the story of a young woman who experiences heartbreak and is thrust into a surreal, cosmic journey of self-discovery and healing. After entering an unknown world and confronting a mysterious figure, she transforms into a masked rider who must find the harmony in the universe and restore the balance within herself too.
It’s an interesting premise that paves the way into what can only be described as some kind of crazy lucid dream in videogame form. The surreal futuristic visuals blend into the absolutely sublime music as you race around each track, avoiding obstacles and collecting hearts. Sayonara Wild Hearts cannot be quite called a racing game, nor a rhythm game (although it does contain elements of both); in fact, I’d describe it more like an arcade experience more akin to Nights Into Dreams than anything else. Beating each track isn’t necessarily difficult, but the challenge is doing well and achieving a higher rank. Your first playthrough will have you scraping bronze ranks with the occasional silver, but the true goal is going for gold. And that is not an easy task.
Going into more detail about the gameplay can be a little tough, mainly due to each of the game’s stages feeling like its own unique experience. Just when you think you know what the game is, it breaks out of its rhythm to try something new and keep you fully engaged. At its core, its all about high score chasing and collecting all those hearts, but the game constantly alters just how exactly you do it right up until the glorious finale after around 90 minutes of game time.
Of particular note are the boss stages, which feature some of the longest and most interesting sequences in the entire game. These fights all have their own gimmicks that gel perfectly with the rest of the gameplay experience, yet feel like a true test of your skills. Whilst in actuality they are still difficult to fail (although these are where you’re at least likely to die, setting you back to the last checkpoint), they certainly feel like a dramatic raise in the stakes.
It may not be the longest of experiences, but it also feels immensely replayable as you go back to hit those golds. After reaching the conclusion of the story, you’ll unlock an arcade mode, where you play through every track in succession as you try and go for the highest score. If you are good enough to get golds in all the levels, you’ll unlock something extra special that will test even the most hardcore of gamers. Add to that an unusual achievement-style system, and the game does a commendable job at trying to give you something more as an incentive to keep going.
Quite frankly, Sayonara Wild Hearts is one of those games that pulls off exactly what it wants to do flawlessly. The pacing is excellent, as is the visual and audio presentation; and there’s so much variety to the gameplay that fatigue never sets in. This is a true masterpiece, and one every gamer should give a shot.