- Hi-Fi Rush game director John Johanas dropped by the Xbox Podcast this week for an interview about Tango Gameworks’ surprise new title.
- He revealed that the game was inspired in part by the filmmaking of Edgar Wright, and dove into exactly how.
- Hi-Fi Rush is out now for Xbox Series X|S and PC, and is available with an Xbox Game Pass or PC Game Pass membership.
Hi-Fi Rush might have been Developer_Direct’s big surprise, getting an announcement and a launch in a single day, but that doesn’t mean its development was just as much of a whirlwind. In fact, game director John Johanes has been pitching the idea for this rhythm-action experiment for years, as far back as the original Evil Within game. And it turns out, he had a very specific, non-gaming inspiration from the very start: the films of Edgar Wright.
Speaking to the Xbox Podcast, Johanas explained that, while Tango Gameworks might be known for its horror titles, the studio had been looking for a way to do something different for quite some time:
“Probably you know our studio for making horror games with The Evil Within and Ghostwire: Tokyo, but this is something that we’ve wanted to make that [would] really completely change the image of our studio, and also pushed us as developers to what we can do, or what’s possible, even, in the game universe, because we wanted to kind of do something new, and that’s kind of where the original idea- that’s essentially how I pitched it.
“This game itself is just something that personally I always wanted to make for a really long time, and luckily timing was right internally that we just saw it as a nice palette cleanser after we finished The Evil Within 2, to kind of branch off and try something new.”
While Hi-Fi Rush draws on some very recognizable gaming influences – the rhythm genre and classic technical action games loom large – one of the starting points for all this was drawn from the world of movies:
“One of the earliest things we had– and this kind of influenced the direction on our style for how we did things – was the movies that Edgar Wright as a director would make. And I know maybe people would compare this to Baby Driver [Editor’s note: I did exactly this in our hands-on with the game, whoops], which is about music — music to tied to the images very coherently — but actually this pre-dated that significantly. There was a scene in the original Shaun of the Dead that had them fighting in a bar to a Queen soundtrack [Warning: adult language] that was choreographed to it. Maybe you saw that, maybe you remember it.
“I was like, ‘That was so cool, what if we made a game that was exactly like that?’ And so that’s how I kind of pitched it. That’s how the idea came to be, many, many years [ago] when we were still making the original The Evil Within, but [Hi-Fi Rush] finally gave us a chance to pursue that angle.”
That inspiration goes further than just the rhythmic combat concept, too. In wannabe rockstar Chai, Hi-Fi Rush also has a particularly Wrightian lead character:
“I knew I wanted this main character that was, like, not a superhero. The big reference point we used was Scott Pilgrim, especially the Edgar Wright Scott Pilgrim because I’m talking about Edgar Wright as an influence. But it’s this kind of like anti-hero, in a sense – not that they’re evil, but they’re just almost dumb.”
Hi-Fi Rush wears these influences on its sleeve, and is all the more joyful for it. This is a game that celebrates the games, music and movies that helped inspire it, and that makes its surprise release on Xbox and PC (with Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass members able to play as part of their membership) all the more exciting. And, as far as this writer is concerned, if Tango Gameworks does want to head back to horror in the future, it always has Last Night In Soho to look to and keep that Edgar Wright fascination in full flow…