I have, apparently, waited three years to play this game. Wikipedia informs me that Sayonara wild hearts was released in 2019, and it was the main reason I became interested in Apple arcade in the first place. It seemed like a perfect game for me; a polished, colourful experience made to be consumed in a session or two. Unfortunately, I always have more on my game list than I find time to play, and so it was not until Apple insisted on offering me three months of Apple arcade for free that I got around to trying it.
It was worth saving.
Knowing from somewhere in the back of my mind that this was a game that played well with a controller, I downloaded it on my Mac mini, dug out a USB micro cable and connected a Dual shock controller. Thinking I recalled the pairing procedure, I held down the PS button, only to be surprised by the app switcher appearing as if I had hit command-tab.
Clearly, Apple has added a bit of controller support since the last time I played Brutal legend. Tapping the PS button brought upp Launch center, right into a dedicated folder for games, allowing me to quickly launch Sayonara wild hearts or any other Apple arcade game without touching any other input device.
The next surprise was just how beautiful the game looked. I had seen both screen shots and videos, so I knew exactly what the look would be. What I was not prepared for was how sharp and smooth it was. I do not run my 4k monitor at any retina resolution, but at native 4K, and the game launched in the same resolution. I am not sure I have ever even ran a game in 4K before. Everything was razor sharp, and smoother than butter too. I never noticed a single stutter.
The Mac mini was of course dead silent at all times. It was as if the M1 chip was glancing across the desk at the befanned Playstation 4 on the opposite side, laughing to itself as it effortlessy streamed pixels into my eyes and beautiful beats into my ears.
I do not think I really got over that initial impression of awe during the time it took me to finish the game. Every moment felt like a hand made gift of gameplay. On one hand, it is a pretty simple game, not quite forgiving but easy to make progress in (and if you fail a section repeatedly the game asks if you want to skip it). On the other, it definitely rewards more experienced gamers who quickly pick up on variations in the game mechanics. I love the game Rez, and in one of the levels focused on Rez-like mechanics I achieved the highest rank on the first try.
Oh, oh, does the look not resemble that of No more heroes a bit?
One wild wish? Sayonara wild hearts in VR. Exactly the same, just with added immersion and depth. Oh man.
But what kind of game is it?
Uh, right. It is a game where you mainly travel into the screen, think of an old-school racing game or some kind of on-rails shooter. You travel automatically, but you can move in one or two dimensions to avoid obstacles and pick up points. Other mechanics are sometimes added, like timing button presses to perform actions, or being able to shoot at enemies. It is all more about feeling than precision and deep skills, this game wants you to enjoy the ride rather than challenge you to the edge of your abilities.
Someone else has probably written a much better description, but this one is mine. I think it is great to just dive in and experience Sayonara wild hearts, rather than know exactly what you will do and see. Know that it feels the same all the way through, if you love the start you will not have the rug pulled out from underneath your experience by sudden changes of pace or style.
It is Friday night, and this has been written the way my mind flows.