If you've ever been dumped, or had to break up with someone, then you know the devastating feelings of loss, loneliness, and depression that follows. And, if you haven't been in a relationship before, well you probably still have those feelings, but for different reasons. Climbing out of that hole of sadness is usually a pretty slow process, and it takes a lot of emotional energy to eventually get back to a place where you feel like yourself again.
Sayonara Wild Hearts is all about that struggle, only instead of long nights gorging on cookie dough ice cream, and watching Netflix for approximately 13 hours of the day, you do battle against cosmic forces on a motorcycle while epic pop music plays. It's a much better way to cope.
I Wish My Depression Was This Cool
Sayonara Wild Hearts' story is a little out there, but seems to be about a woman who either has just gone through a horrible break-up or is still getting over one. Then, all of a sudden she's given stupendous cosmic powers by a force known as The Three Arcana, and faces off against a series of masked foes who are threatening the balance of the universe. Although there's a pretty strong chance that this is all in her head, and she's just very creative when she's trying to get over someone.
The game then kicks into high gear as your main character jumps onto the back of flying tarot cards and ends up riding a motorcycle, a sweet looking convertible car, and a magic deer in order to defeat enemies, like a gang of people who are either wolves or can summon wolves and someone who seems to really be into virtual reality. It's an insane ride that's kind of nonsensical, but that's part of the charm.
Intergalactic Freeway Of Love
The gameplay reminded me of a cross between Rez and Audiosurf. You essentially listen to some pretty catchy pop music, and then try to gather hearts as your character zooms forward. It's kind of like a reverse shoot 'em up, as you're on rails and you have to change lanes to gather hearts and avoid obstacles. The game will also switch things up constantly. One second you're flying through the air gathering hearts, the next you're timing a button press just right in the middle of a swordfight, and after that, your bike is firing lasers at some flying skulls. Every level throws something unique at you, so things never really get stale.
That said, things aren't easy, either. Unless you're some sort of gaming savant, you'll probably only get silver or bronze ranks on your first go around. This is a score attack type of game where you're always trying to get a high score, and it moves really fast. Considering I was able to beat it in about an hour, the intention is definitely to go back after you've completed it and try to get a gold rank on every level. Doing so will unlock some extra modes for you to complete, which are pretty dang challenging in and of themselves.
Cotton Candy For The Eyes And Ears
Sayonara Wild Hearts' style looks like if someone took the graphics from Just Dance and mashed them with Rez. Everything is neon colored, and the shades of pink, purple, and blue are very pleasing to the eye. I also really liked the designs of the various bosses, as everyone looked like a Sailor Moon character if they were drawn by the artists behind Bayonetta.
The real draw here is the music, and if you don't like pure, sugary sweet pop music, then this game might not be for you. Everything here sounds like Carly Rae Jepsen could have written it. The levels in the game are pretty much based entirely around what song is playing, and you're meant to groove to the music in order to succeed. Most of the tunes are pretty catchy, although there were a few that I thought were a little on the generic side. On the whole, though, the music is pretty great.
Make Sure You Crank Up The Volume
Sayonara Wild Hearts is a beautiful visual representation of the kind of emotional journey many of us go on when we experience heartbreak. I'm not sure whether this game wants us to believe that everything that's happening is completely real, or if this is supposed to be all happening within our character's mind. If it's the latter, then apparently her inner monologue is voiced by Queen Latifah, and she's got one hell of an imaginative way of dealing with loss.
Regardless, I found it to be very touching, and even though it's a very short and sweet experience, it's a gorgeous game that's worth replaying to see all the colorful imagery again, and to beat your high score in order unlock all those extra goodies and modes. Just make sure you're listening to this with headphones or on a pretty beefy sound system, because if you're playing it with the sound on low, you're basically missing out on half the game.
4 Out Of 5 Stars
A Switch copy of Sayonara Wild Hearts was provided to TheGamer for this review. Sayonara Wild Hearts is out now on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and Apple Arcade.