Sayonara Wild Hearts is a single-player rhythm game consisting of 23 levels. Player traverses through a surrealistic passage to complete each level.
Game website: http://simogo.com/work/sayonara-wild-hearts/
Youtube gameplay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irpqa9tKi48
- The elemental tetrad
Story: The game begins by telling a narrative that the world has been “corrupted”, and the player is chosen to save it. The player is then brought into another universe where he has to defeat all the enemies to complete the game. The enemies are apparently based on Tarot cards.
Aesthetics: As the game takes place in another universe, the player is able to see how bizarre the landscape of each level is. Most of the levels incorporate only a color scheme of black and a few flat colors into their background.
Mechanics: In each level, the player traverses through a surrealistic passage accompanied by an electronic soundtrack. At the same time, the player has to dodge obstacles, collect hearts, and fight enemies. As I play this on iOS, movement is done by sliding on any part of the screen, while fighting enemies would require tapping on any part the screen. Camera movement and perspective is automatically adjusted and the gameplay is rather intuitive.
Technology: The game is available in PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and iOS devices.
I believe that the mechanics is made simple as the game is very fast-paced and there is no time to stop and think. I think the main focus of this game is the experience, hence the aesthetics and nice soundtracks, and the story with imaginary characters complements the fantasy that it creates.
- The lens of challenge
Some of the levels are pretty challenging as the player has to multitask: dodge obstacles, collect hearts, and fight enemies. Nonetheless, if the player dies (for example hit by enemies’ projectile or fall off a ledge), the player is brought to the position where he was at a few seconds ago. Hence, the player does not have to repeat the whole level to get to where he previously died. I think this is a good decision as I don’t think players would want to keep repeating a level especially when the game is not that easy to play. Reaching the end of a level, the player should feel triumphant (and probably relieved) for completing a challenging level.
In my opinion, the most interesting level is called “Parallel Universes”, where the enemies are a pair of twins who create two alternate universes. The player sits through a passage which alternate from a passage from one dimension to another and these passages have obstacles at different positions. This essentially creates a challenge for the player to predict when which universe’s passage would come so as to avoid the obstacles on time. (link for this level: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fBEZ733SAo)
- The lens of pleasure
The game went on full screen with no additional UI elements (besides the score) to create an immersive experience for the player. Its fast pace allows the player to feel excited. The player can derive pleasure just by sitting in motion through an universe filled with imaginary objects and characters, while enjoying the beats of the music playing in sync with the game.
In most of the levels, the camera adjusts itself to bring the player smoothly to a clip where the enemies take some actions (e.g. taunt, prepare for a fight, transform into other creatures). Thus, player can take a break from the intense focus on his positioning and enjoy the animation for a while.
Each level has different passage with different soundtrack to allow the player to enjoy the pleasure of new experience.
- The lens of modes
In some levels, the player automatically switches from riding on a ground to running on a tunnel or gliding through the air. This kind of novelty brings in a new experience for the player so the user would not feel bored with just one mode.
I think some modes are rather slow which I did not thoroughly enjoy, such as dodging projectiles in a 2D world.
- The lens of curiosity
Personally, I felt very compelled to get on to the next level after completing a level as each level is different in many aspects. The music is different at every level. The modes is also varying throughout the whole game and I was curious to find out what other modes they have to offer. In addition, each level is part of the story and at the end of a level, player would unlock a new level and new enemies are introduced, which made me curious to find out what the enemies are capable of.