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Community Article: Indie Insights - Sayonara Wild Hearts

Written by John Edwards

Heartbreak is rarely stylish. It's typically messy and probably involves a lot of crying and listening to songs on repeat. But maybe typical heartbreaks are just missing the influence of the arcana and the narration of Queen Latifah.

Sayonara Wild Hearts is a hard game to quantify among established genres. There's an element of rhythm action to it, you move to the music and there are times when you press a button to the beat. But it could also be compared to a racing game or an endless runner as you speed through the neon-drenched levels chasing hearts.

 

Ultimately the game should be seen as a pop album and one that should ideally played in order and in its entirety. The game encourages you to do this in the album arcade mode, or without making a mistake in the YOLO option.

The game begins with the calm tranquillity of a suitably arranged version of Debussy's Clair De Lune while you ride a longboard chasing a butterfly. From then on things only get weirder.

 

Ostensibly there's a plot centred around the arcana and you play as the Fool trying to restore harmony to this pink and purple dimension. The game is filled with symbolism and the adventure parallels the heroine's progress in dealing with her heartbreak. Much like the superb Gris, the physical journey is representative of an emotional one.

This is why the game is best played in one sitting, it takes about an hour from beginning to end and works best when all the emotional beats hit at the right times. Reaching the end gives a wonderful feeling of catharsis and then probably an impulse to try to beat your score.

 

Through the levels there are a variety of items to collect if you're after a good score. There are little hearts, bit hearts and a limited number of hard to find diamonds. The game rewards you for collecting in a streak, continually rack up those hearts without crashing or taking a hit and your score will multiply.

At the end of the level you'll get a rank: bronze, silver or gold and some will be quite challenging to achieve. It reminds me of Lylat Wars in that you're on rails for the level and it's your skill in exploiting what choices you have available for getting a high score.

 

On top of the main game are zodiac challenges which give you cryptic clues for achievements you should attempt in the levels. It can be as difficult to work out what's required as it is to do it. There are side B riddles too, giving 24 for you to persue.

The scoring and the riddles help to add to the game's replayability, but not as much as the wonderful soundtrack. Daniel Olsén has made one of gaming's best OSTs for Sayonara Wild Hearts. There are songs in this game which will lodge themselves in your brain and refuse to let go. I will be listening to these songs long after I've managed gold rank on everything and cleared all the riddles.

 

Sayonara Wild Hearts may be a hard game to classify, but once playing, it all just makes sense. Getting a perfect run through a level with your favourite track is euphoric. This is a vivid, rollercoaster ride of broken hearts and moving on with a soundtrack that will linger on long after you've finished playing The Fool.