Annapurna Interactive has brought some unforgettable games to the Nintendo Switch. Gorogoa, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Donut County are a few of my favorite titles on the system. I’ve personally placed the publisher in a prestigious position, one that ensures I’ll follow anything they back. So, of course, when given the opportunity to check out Annapurna’s upcoming titles at PAX West, I jumped on the opportunity. At my appointment, I was handed a Switch with Simogo’s Sayonara Wild Hearts, accompanied by some noise-canceling headphones to drown out the bustling PAX showfloor.
A video game musical beyond your imagination
I’ve been trying to figure out how to best describe my experience with Sayonara Wild Hearts in the past week, and I’m still finding it difficult. In the game, you play as a girl who transforms into an alter ego. This alter ego is a representation of “The Fool” in the Major Arcana of Tarot cards. The gameplay could be best explained as an auto-runner, but don’t let that sway your interest. From what I’ve played, it’s a very polished iteration of the concept. There’s also a fresh amount of variety. From motorcycles to dance-fighting, you transition through the different situations of a level seamlessly. You could classify Sayonara Wild Hearts as levels that consist of boss fights, since “The Fool” is facing off against other interpretations of various Arcana. They each have their own identity that is distinct to the song they’re representing.
Sayonara Wild Hearts reaches a great height when it comes to what both visuals and music can do for a game of this type. My strongest feeling so far is that the style is beyond comparison. Music is an art that can elicit strong emotions, and the developers at Simogo seem to understand how the genre of pop can provide warm and ethereal feelings. I find this apt since Simogo is a seemingly laid-back video game studio in the Swedish coastal town of Malmö. As presented by the “INOFFICIAL SOUNDTRACK” for the game that the developers shared on Spotify, they have a great taste for selections of pop music. So there’s a number of reasons to look forward to the original compositions they’re bringing to life in Sayonara Wild Hearts.
Achieving synesthesia with Sayonara Wild Hearts
In a conversation I once had with Tetsuya Mizuguchi, he explained to me the concept of synesthesia in the context of video games. Mizuguchi is the Japanese developer behind games such as Rez and Tetris Effect, two games which utilize a combination of interactivity and great music/visuals to strong effect. He described synesthesia as a combination of two senses. So, in the case of his games, the surreal combination of sight and sound elicits an even greater emotional reaction due to the added gameplay elements. This works best, as more passive interactivity – such as an on-rails-shooter like Rez or a repetitive puzzle game like Tetris Effect – allows a player to “zen” out. It’s something I’ve rarely experienced outside of Mizuguchi’s efforts, but I certainly found it when playing Sayonara Wild Hearts.
This facet was heightened by light rhythm-game elements. It crescendoed the already cerebral collection of sight, sound, and score-attack autorunning into something even greater. I’m very excited to see what the full game has to offer, and thanks to the ability to chase high-scores, I saw the potential for a great deal of replayability. I was already wanting to re-experience the slice I played with better execution. Thankfully, I won’t have to wait long, either, since the developer’s announced that the game will be heading to the Switch on Sept 19.
Is Sayonara Wild Hearts a game you’ll be looking forward to? Let us know in the comments.