Sayonara Wild Hearts is out now for PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and iOS devices, and the action/rhythm game appears to be the hit developer Simogo was hoping it would be after it wowed audiences with a debut trailer that looked ripped straight out of a music video. Sayonara Wild Hearts follows the journey of The Fool as she navigates a highway in the sky at high speeds, battling enemies to a soundtrack that is one of the game's bigger selling points - it's already available on Spotify and fans have been quick to praise it as one of this year's best.
Sayonara Wild Hearts joins a slew of other titles that looked to push gaming's visual boundaries this year. Some are doing it more traditionally, like the way Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding beautifully renders its many actors into the game or Remedy's Control creates its mind-bending world. Others, like Katana Zero or the recently released Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening Switch remake, aim to use more color and vibrancy to create visual separation from competitors. Sayonara Wild Hearts definitely leans heavily into the latter approach, but not to the point that it seems like a gimmick - the world constructed around the game needs the aesthetic provided to really tell its story, according to critics.
More importantly, however, reviewers have also praised Sayonara Wild Hearts as a worthwhile journey despite its relatively short gameplay time and lack of a real challenge. The game, which has been given tough competition in a launch week that is also shared by Link's Awakening, which is reviewing incredibly well, has still managed to standout thanks to how well it executes on the elements that make it unique to this year's releases. On Metacritic, it's averaging 85 on Switch (its most popular review platform) at time of writing, while it has an even better 87 average on OpenCritic, including an early 100% recommendation rating. Read on for more about Simogo's Sayonara Wild Hearts.
USGamer - 4/5 - Nadia Oxford
Sayonara Wild Hearts is a quick but intense ride through a landscape that's been made dangerous and jagged by broken hearts and pop music. Its unusual style makes the road hard to see from time to time, but people who love Simogo's games will love riding with The Fool.
Kotaku - Recommended - Paul Tamayo
Some games invite you in and ask you to like them. Sayonara Wild Hearts is different. It’s unapologetically confident. Sayonara Wild Hearts wears shades while she blows bubblegum bubbles, not even looking in your direction.
It’s undeniably cool, and if it’s not your thing, then Sayonara Wild Hearts is like, whatever. It wants to take whoever does love it and ride off into the neon sunset with them.
IGN - 7.9/10 - Kyle Hilliard
Sayonara Wild Hearts plays more like an extended interactive music video than it does a traditional video game, but it’s still a wonderful time. It offers little in terms of challenge (if you aren’t hunting high scores) or substantial player input, but the stirring soundtrack and impressive art and animation all lead to a moving experience that culminates in a joyful finale.
Eurogamer - Recommended - Christian Donlan
And as for the shape, I would say it's more of a playlist than the standard video game movie pastiche. But then I think back to its atomiser bursts of transitions, one idea gusting into another, and I wonder if it's all more ephemeral that that. Maybe this is perfume, following the shape of the breeze. From top-note to drydown, vividly here and then vividly gone.
VICE - Recommended - Patrick Klepek
All I want to do, even as I write this, is play Sayonara Wild Hearts again, and I don’t ever play games again. But like a good piece of music, pop or not, appreciation grows over time, as you notice little details previously overlooked and other parts start to grow on you. It’s not often I feel legitimately lost inside a game, and normally, I’d raise an eyebrow at such comments, dismissing them as hyperbole. But I can’t deny what happened here. I now get why people don’t just praise Rez but worship it. Sometimes a game speaks to you. This did.
Sayonara Wild Hearts seems to excel at hooking players with its excellent soundtrack and keeping them engaged throughout thanks to its rhythmic gameplay. Reviewers do seem to note that the game is quite easy to play through, though, likening it more to an extended (and beautiful) music video rather than an outright action title. That's something to keep an eye on for players who want a challenge in their games - Sayonara Wild Hearts does have a high score system that some have acknowledged as enough to scratch that itch, but others were left wanting a bit more substance.
With that said, Sayonara Wild Hearts is a quick, few hour investment of time that appears to be well worth it for players looking for something unique this year. It's the type of game that is apparently rewarding to play through multiple times, too, which certainly broadens its appeal. Overall, Sayonara Wild Hearts appears to be a release that will make this week in 2019 one of the strongest for game launches in the entire year, thanks to its own performance and that of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening and the Nintendo Switch Lite itself to complement it.