Sayonara: Wild Hearts is defined as a pop album video game, and based on our hands-on preview, that's an apt description, but it doesn't capture the true wonder of Simogo's latest title. Known primarily for making mobile games, Simogo is stepping out of their comfort zone with Sayonara: Wild Hearts, which is being developed specifically for the Nintendo Switch. First announced at The Game Awards in 2018, Simogo and publisher Annapurna Interactive brought Sayonara to E3 this year, and showed it off to press.
We walked away impressed from our brief hands-on demo with Sayonara: Wild Hearts. It's a blissful escapade into a broken heart, something that seems contradictory on the surface but really isn't. Going through a series of levels - all of which have been designed to work with a specific song, whether that be synth or 1970s pop-themed music - players will find themselves triggering the beat from time to time. This can be done either by dodging an incoming attack or collecting floating hearts. But no matter what obstacle is thrown your way, the game is fundamentally about finishing the song.
From the demo, Sayonara appears to be an action title that was designed after sidescrollers but with rhythm games in mind. Whether you're riding a motorcycle, dance fighting, or gliding through the air, the purpose seems to be collecting all the hearts (read: points) you can without hitting anything or being hit. Screwing up a turn or failing to push the right button at the right time may be frustrating in most games, but in Sayonara, it's doubly so, since it cuts the song at that moment.
Because each level in Sayonara is set to a custom pop song, players may find themselves annoyed whenever they make a mistake - beyond the mistake itself, that is - but seeing as this mechanic is a creative choice, it works as an encouragement to get better. So Sayonara: Wild Hearts shouldn't be faulted for that. Good thing is that when players make a mistake, they don't have to restart from the beginning, but rather continue from just a few moments before. It's a pleasant way to transition back into the song (think: reversing 10 seconds in a song.)
Aesthetically (from the bright colors to the character designs), Sayonara: Wild Hearts is one of the more exciting titles to come out of E3 this year, and its wicked soundtrack complements its art style perfectly. What's more, changing into QTEs and back is as seamless as it can be. Considering how many games have been published on the Nintendo Switch, it's strange to say that Sayonara: Wild Hearts is unique, but based on our hands-on demo with the latest Simogo game, that notion certainly isn't far-fetched.