IntroductionRIVE, developed and published by Two Tribes, is a 2D side-scrolling 360-degree shooter/platformer hybrid, built around the inspiration to wreck metal and hack robots. You play as Roughshot, a space scavenger who gets trapped inside a mysterious starship upon checking it out for worthy loot. You'll receive help from an automated bot from the ship on occasion, but listening to it is completely up to you, as you have the option at any time to blow them up (he may or may not keep returning to talk your ear off and complain). This is Two Tribes grand finale to a nearly two-decades-long run in the video game industry. You can buy the game on Steam or PlayStation Store for $14.99.
GameplayThere are two things you need to know about the game before buying: it's incredibly beautiful and smooth, and it's incredibly challenging. Don't worry, though, if you struggle too much with the difficulty, there is a "soft mode" to play on by going to the options menu. It starts off just like most games with an initial entrance that teaches you the basics, but it does so with a great amount of humor and subtlety as it meshes it with the setting of the story. The controls are simple; one analog stick controls directional movements, and the other controls the 360-degree shooting guns (can be changed for aiming with analog and shooting with right trigger). You jump and double jump with the left trigger, and you fire off special ammo with the right trigger, assuming you stick with the standard controls and not the secondary option.
The game is broken up into missions (and I use "broken up loosely" as it smoothly transitions from one to the next). Upon completing a mission, you'll be given a text log from Roughshot as he essentially narrates his thoughts on the ship, loot, enemies, etc. Then you'll be given a "Mission Results" page, highlighting your performance with a score and your global rank (also a rank among your friends if they too have played they game and recorded a score). You can even check out the leaderboards for more rank information, or look at more in-depth statistics of your performance in regards to mission points, kill streak bonus, loot bonus, and time bonus.
As you progress through the game and collect enough credits, you'll be able to effectively use the randomly found upgrade stations. Here, you can upgrade your little spider tank of destruction, and buy new perks and weapons. The required credits will be collected as you blow things up and collect them off of the ground. One upgrade you can purchase will be to increase the magnetic abilities used to pick them up, but since all fall to the ground, you'll rarely find yourself loot-chasing.
Enemies and traps are extremely diverse in the game. If not so much by variety, then by the way they cause chaotic situations. You'll find most that chase you in attempts to blow you up by crashing into you, some that shoot electric beams in patrolling fashion, and more. Traps come in the form of spinning blades, rolling balls of lava, barreling trains, crushing structures, etc. But rarely will you ever have to deal with just one death-inducing problem; you may be confined to a small area while avoiding lasers and spinning blade at the end of a fast moving conveyer belt while simultaneously shooting swarms of the self-destructing chasers. If that sounds ridiculously insane, then you're right, it is. Even when fighting the many large and powerful robotic bosses, they'll have the advantage of sending swarms of enemies, environmental challenges for you to overcome, as well as their own special attacks.
You'll travel through zero-gravity environments in space, the metal structure of the ship, lava-flooded sectors, underwater zones, and even on fast moving trains hell-bent on derailing at their earliest convenience. The several-hours-long story will show you everything imaginable as you teleport from one dangerous section to another. When you finally beat the story of the game (assuming you can), you can play the "speed-run" mode or the even more challenging "single credit" mode where you will be given a single life.
Sound and GraphicsThe sound of pure chaos and mayhem as you obliterate everything throughout the ship is good for the soul. It carries a sense of power and strength even as you run across the platforms as a small sized machine pilot. The sounds of bullets, alarms, speeding trains, enemy drones all immerse you into the action and emphasize the quiet moments as times of mental recollection from what you just went through. The voice acting is very good; Roughshot sounds like the hardy badass with snide comments that the game needs to feel complete. Even the robot butler who has a speaking role sounds appropriate and fitting to the settings. Both are voiced by Mark Dodson who is known for his work in Gremlins, Star Wars, and the game Awesomnauts.
Explosions, explosions, and more explosions. They all look amazing but depending on who's exploding can either be incredibly joyful to watch or ridiculously frustrating to experience. Each one has its own distinct visual, and the camera shift/shake makes them feel powerful. The enemies all have a nice aesthetic to them and highlights their different models, and brightly colored beams of electricity or weaponry. When encountering traps, you'll see the impending death they will cause as the camera subtly emphasizes their presence with minor zooming. Everything on the screen has a purpose, and the developers did a great job at filling the environment and gameplay without making it feel over flooded.
ConclusionRIVE is an incredibly enjoyable experience. There are so many things to love about it, and very few things to complain about. The fast paced action keeps you on the edge of your seat, but also pushes you to go faster at all times. Its punishing challenge takes advantage just as you think you're going as fast as you can possibly go by throwing in the craziest swarms of enemies or dangerously placed traps, making you question whether or not you speed up again (but even if you take the slow approach, eventually it'll push you to speed up for more).
The graphics are gorgeous and the camera works with minor shifting/shaking during times of intense action to build dramatic effects. Explosions are everywhere and enemies are relentless. Roughshot's personal robot vehicle moves with such grace throughout the environments, you'll often times forget its suppose to be a guy in a machine. It never gets repetitive; always throwing new enemies, variations to their swarms, chaotic platform puzzles with deathtraps, environment designs, and change of scenes as you progress the story. It's a game that feels so refreshing to watch in action, and one of the craziest action platforms to have come out in a while.
|+ Fast paced and non-stop action|| - It has to eventually end|
|+ Diverse gameplay, combat situations, and enemies|
|+ Smooth choreographed feeling combat|
|+ Fun protagonist with good humor|
|+ Challenging but has a "Soft Mode"|