Hi-Fi Rush took the internet by storm after its stealth drop during the first-ever Xbox Developer Direct. The rhythm action game from Tango Gameworks took many by surprise for a multitude of reasons. The shadow drop aside, it was a pleasant surprise to see such a colorful music-focused title from a studio that has long been known for its pedigree for more horror-focused experiences. From The Evil Within series to the more recent Ghostwire Tokyo Tango Gameworks has created some memorable and suspenseful titles.
What does it take for a studio to step out of its comfort zone and create something new? This is just one of the questions that were given to Creative Director John Johanas when he stopped by the Iron Lord Podcast earlier this week. In an interview that spanned over an hour, a variety of topics were discussed. From the excitement of the viral stealth drop launch to some of the challenges of creating a whole new game in a completely different direction than before.
Full Interview with Creative Director John Johanas
Hi-Fi Rush Breaking Outside Of The Expected
One of the biggest challenges of creating a new game is pitching it, especially when it is a game that is outside your realm of “normal”. Johanas explains that it was intimidating to pitch “the most un-Bethesda-like thing you could ever imagine”. This is a brilliant point as Bethesda is known for its dark RPGs such as Elder Scrolls and Skyrim, as well as shooters such as Wolfenstein and Doom. However, Johanas explains that his boss was very receptive to the pitch, due to the passion that was delivered in the pitch. He then goes on to explain that Tango Gameworks was not created to be a horror studio, which is something the studio founder Shinji Mikami feels very passionate about. “It’s about breeding new ideas, and if it’s interesting it’s worth making”. In an era where arguments stem about how creative can studios be under major publishers. It is refreshing to see passion and a great idea be able to be crafted into a whole new experience.
Hi-Fi Rush was an opportunity for many of the team at Tango to stretch their legs and do something different. Johanas goes on to talk about how the art department got to break away from “10 years of working on blood-soaked walls”. To then go onto something so colorful and expressive was a breath of fresh air and provided the developers with a unique challenge that they had never conquered before. Departing from using motion capture, to hand-drawing a majority of the game, was a creative challenge for the team.
Hi-Fi Rush Strikes Gold At Launch
Part of what brought Hi-Fi Rush to the forefront was its shadow-dropped announcement at the Xbox Developer Direct. Nothing was known about the title before its launch and to go from no marketing to you can now play this title was a stressful situation. Johanas explains while PR and marketing were confident in the success of this move, as a developer because it strayed so far from the traditional way of launching a game. Many of the developers felt nervous about how this title would be received. Though it became clear quickly that the game was well on its way to success after it launched.
Johanas admits that Xbox Game Pass was a huge boon to Hi-Fi Rush due to its ability to allow people to try out a title they may not be interested in. “If you have Game Pass it’s basically a demo that you can try. That allows you to get over that hurdle of I don’t play rhythm games this isn’t for me.”. He goes on to state that the accessibility of Xbox Game Pass brought in more players who might have not tried a rhythm action game before. This has become a tried and true method for Xbox Game Pass’s success. Allowing more casual players to expand into games they might not have tried before. It may not work for every game but it certainly seemed to help Hi-Fi Rush.
Have you experienced the musical world of Hi-Fi Rush yet? If you are curious about the title you can check out our review of the title here. Don’t forget to check back for the latest gaming news, interviews, and information.