Updated: Jun 24
AGAINST promises sick beats and fast-paced action, and fails to deliver on both.
At a first glance, AGAINST appears to have it all, rhythm, combat, and a campaign with a noir detective story. Upon playing it, however, this image quickly falls apart, and what’s left is a sub-par rhythm game that has very little working in its favor.
AGAINST is a rhythm-combat game in VR by Russian developer Joy Way, known for titles like the parkour game Stride, or Superhot-like Time Hacker. Originality is not exactly Joy Way’s strong suit, and AGAINST is no different.
AGAINST takes the rhythm combat of Pistol Whip and combines that with the directional slashing of Beat Saber. It’s a cool concept, but those are two very big titles to live up to. Each level consists of running in a straight line through a city, factory, whatever, while fighting evil thugs made of “darkness.” The game hands you four different weapons that you swap between during each level, which are a sword, brass knuckles, a revolver, and twin tommy guns.
Each level takes approximately five minutes, and they are all set to the beat of a song, with a unique song for each level. This is where the rhythm comes in, as you need to shoot, slice, jump, and wall run on time with the beats of the song.
AGAINST’s campaign of seven levels is accompanied by a story, which is simultaneously amazing and terrible at the same time. Fans of low budget B movies will likely love the story of AGAINST, because the writing, voice acting, and overall story are awful to the point of hilarity. The story is completely nonsensical, and the writing and line delivery only serve to make the storyline funnier and more confusing. The ending caps it off with one of the worsts twists I've ever seen, and I laughed like crazy.
Surprisingly, this terrible storytelling is accompanied by amazingly well done comic book style cutscenes. The cutscenes are non-animated pictures that fold out similarly to a comic book, and they add an incredible deal of charm to a game that is hardly deserving of it. These cutscenes are brief, and most of them detail the protagonists’ journey from one mission location to the next. I almost wish there had been more, but there really wouldn’t be any room for them as the campaign is only an hour long, if that.
The gameplay is what you would expect a game like this to get right. Unfortunately, it really just falls flat on all fronts. It does play similarly to Pistol Whip and Beat Saber, which is clearly what the developers were going for, but it’s much worse than both games. It’s frequently just unresponsive, to the point where your sword or brass knuckles will go forward and just clip through the enemies without doing any damage.