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Sayonara Wild Hearts

Game review by
Jeff Haynes, Common Sense Media
Sayonara Wild Hearts Game Poster Image
Fun, stylistic journey to save universe and a broken heart.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Builds on message that broken hearts can be mended, that people can recover from heartache, and that the world can be saved with some dedication (and swift action).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players take on the role of a young woman whose alter ego known as The Fool fights robots, rival racers, and other hazards to restore the universe. Limited character growth occurs, but she tries her best to succeed at her goals.

Ease of Play

Simple controls that are easy to learn on other systems. Swiping across the screen on iOS devices to control your character while shooting and avoiding hazards can be difficult. It's easier with a game controller, and plays like a traditional action game.

Violence

Players constantly shoot, smash, and dodge incoming attacks from robots, rival bikers, and other threats. But no blood or gore is seen, and enemies disappear when defeated.

Sex

Female characters wear tight fitting clothing.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sayonara Wild Hearts is a downloadable musical action-adventure game for the PlayStation 4, Apple Arcade, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. Players take on the role of a young woman suffering from a broken heart that uses her alter ego, known as The Fool, to restore balance to the universe. The fool will use swords, guns, and other attacks to defeat robots, rival bikers and other threats she faces across each level. But no blood or gore is shown and enemies disappear when they're defeated. Controls are easy to pick up and learn, but swiping across the screen on iOS devices to attack and dodge incoming hazards can be a bit tricky. Fortunately, controller interaction helps to make the on-screen action play like a normal arcade game. The female characters in the game wear tight fitting clothing, but otherwise, there's no inappropriate content.

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What's it about?

SAYONARA WILD HEARTS is an action adventure game which centers around the sudden heartbreak that a young woman experiences at the end of her relationship with her significant other. Unbeknownst to her, she's much more important to the health and well-being of the universe. In fact, the breakup causes her to uncover her alter ego, The Fool, which lets her face and fight tarot-themed opponents scattered across wildly varied levels and landscapes. Along the way, The Fool will try to capture hearts that are scattered across each level, which will add to your score and unlock various secrets. But there's plenty of hazards scattered in your way of picking up the pieces of the universe; robots, pits and chasms, and even motorcycle gang members will stand in your way. It's up to you as The Fool to avoid these dangers and restore the shattered universe.

Is it any good?

This slick, stylistic action adventure game manages to hit all the right notes with its engaging score, its fast-paced action, and its varied gameplay. Initially, Sayonara Wild Hearts sounds like a simple tale of a broken heart, but it's a crazier story of tarot card-inspired characters, a threat to the universe, and chaos. Even though the story is delivered beautifully by Queen Latifah as the narrator, the plot takes a backseat to the onscreen action, which comes at a breakneck speed. You're trying to pick up pieces of hearts (presumably to put the main character's heart back together), but you're also avoiding environmental hazards and rival motorcycle gang members (who seem to have the same skills as your character). Oh, and one more thing: each stage frequently moves from normal to outlandish environments, so you might start out on a motorcycle and then suddenly find yourself flying through a cavern, or running through a forest only to fight a gigantic robot that launches wolves at you.

It would seem that the arcade/rhythm/platforming elements should fail, but the beauty of Sayonara is that it's so engaging that it keeps you coming back for more. You're eased into the basics, so by the time the intense and crazy sections start, you're not only ready for them, but you're eagerly anticipating what your character can do and where the stage will go. You might miss some details or items when you're playing, but you feel challenged to go back and improve you score on each stage immediately, which speaks volumes about its replayability. The game's also generous with checkpoints to help you make progress through each level, so it's almost impossible to feel discouraged during each stage. On top of this, the soundtrack is incredibly catchy, so not only does it feel like you're playing a music video, you'll find yourself humming each song long after you've stopped playing. Sayonara Wild Hearts is simply one of those fast-paced gems that any action fan will enjoy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Sayonara Wild Hearts affected by the lack of blood and gore in the game? Is the stylish presentation of each battle and each fight enough to make the in-game combat cartoonish and acceptable?

  • How are broken hearts often portrayed in media? Does it seem like it presents the emotional toll of relationships in an accurate way, or does it seem more melodramatic?

Game details

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