Some games just appear out of the blue and somehow make their way into your vidogame schedule pushing aside the titles that have been sitting there for months. I've never heard anything about Sayonara Wild Hearts up until my friend Tenchiken gifted it to me and said that I have to play it, I need it. I diligently watched the trailer, flipped through the screenshots, read tags, and yet did not have a single solid idea about what this game really is. Having now completed the game during one of my Friday streams, I can say it with all my heart - you have to play it. You absolutely have to.
Sayonara Wild Hearts was developed by a small Swedish game studio called Simogo. They've been making mobile games since 2011 and SWH is their first title to be released on PC, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. The game was published by Annapurna Interactive, and their collaboration was so positive that they agreed to continue working together. Awesome!
According to Simogo, they are not really concerned about creating games of a particular genre or even games in a conventional sense; for them it's more important that the experience itself is fun. I hope they stick to this philosophy because as SWH shows, it works.
Sayonara Wild Hearts is a music game, half an arcade/racing-on-everything/shooter/fighting with QTE and half a pop-album. You are racing with lightning speed along the neon roads collecting hearts, making incredible jumps, bending gravity and figthing your adversaries. Perhaps, SWH is the smoothest game experience I've ever had: the game does not want you to stop at any point. If you struggle with a particular section, after several tries the game will ask if you want to skip it and just go forward. You might want it because the level of immersion and sense of speed in this game are off the charts. Even loading screens that take but a moment make you fidget on your seat: you just want to continue playing.
The game has a story narrated to you by Queen Latifah, it's totally optional, although I would recommend paying attention. There is also a bunch of Zodiac Riddles with little hints: for example, to solve one you'll have to complete a level without collecting a single heart or do all QTEs perfectly. Those are just little sidequests to entertain you and make subsequent neon-fueled races more fun.
I don't want to say too much about Sayonara Wild Hearts, you'll just have to take my word for it and give it a go. I can't recall a game I've played in any recent time that's given me so much boundless joy - and nothing else. You don't have to sweat out, try really hard, learn new complicated mechanics, manage your inventory or read extensive dialogue. You can't even lose here: if you've loaded the level and are racing forward 200mph while listening to a great soundtrack - you've already won. Sayonara Wild Hearts - romantic, nostalgic, neon, fearless, changing forms and genres on the fly - suddenly made me remember what games are for. They are for fun. SWH is a breath of fresh air in a world where games make you try your heardest to be rewarded. Sayonara Wild Hearts rewards you immediately, it loves you unconditionally, just because. You've already won. Just listen to the music and go.
Sayonara Wild Hearts is a sweet short dream that you remember in the morning. It has amazing soundtrack by Daniel Olsén, Jonathan Eng and Linnea Olsson that I've been listening to for days now and just can't stop. Simogo are working on their next game - Project Fuzzy Optics - and I can't wait to play it.
I recommend Sayonara Wild Hearts as hard as I can. Big thanks to Tenchiken who gifted me this neon adventure so that I can share it with you.
Playtime - 1.5hrs