RiME is an adventure-puzzler in the vain of ICO and The Last Guardian developed by Tequila Works. It centres around a young child making their way through a lush, yet ominous world trying to piece together the clues as to why they are here. While an absolute treat for the eyes and ears, the gameplay in RiME left me with a lot to be desired and for a game with such an emphasis on story, I was left feeling dissatisfied with the narrative at the end of my time with the game. Performance issues and a high price also make it hard to recommend as an experience that while not insultingly short, under delivers on it's potential.
RiME is available May 26th for PS4, Xbox One and PC. A Nintendo Switch is confirmed for launch at a later date.
While playing RiME I was struck with the feeling that I must be missing something. As the game progressed, there were revelations and seemingly emotional moments that had no impact on me because they felt unearned. While games with little exposition have worked well in the past, the lack of any real narrative cohesion made my time with the game filled with a desire to know a lot more than the game was willing to tell. In RiME, you wake up on a mysterious, luscious island having been washed ashore after a storm. As you explore the island you are joined by a mysterious fox-like creature that guides you on your quest.
The story of RiME is expressed with dull wordlessly, with all narrative being inferred using music and occasional cutscenes. While by the end of the story I understood what was going on, there was a profound lack of setup in the early stages in order for the revelation to pay off. Also, I felt that some of the narrative threads were completely unexplained and only included for the sake of a mechanic, which I found disappointing. The game’s closing moments are very well done, and several of the linear story moments are beautifully shot and composed, it's just a shame that their link to the overall narrative felt tenuous and inconsequential.
RiME is an adventure-puzzle game that features expansive levels with very little to do within them. Most puzzles come down to very similar mechanics and are extremely easy to solve. However what does make them harder to solve is the incredibly frustrating controls. The game uses a “shout” mechanic wherein jade statues can be activated by shouting at them, in order to open doors. On several occasions I pressed the button in order to execute a shout, the child ignored me and just continued to hum. In later levels, you’ll have to carry and throw blue orbs around in order to solve puzzles and similarly, it seemed like the luck of the draw whether the child would obey me or not. It became very tiresome and made me want to stop playing the game.
The platforming is clunky and overly relied upon. Sections of the environment are deemed climbable by a texture on the edge of the rock and in some specific, sun soaked areas, this is incredibly hard to see which on more than one occasion left me frustrated. The puzzles in the game feel like they were a late addition in order to extend the play time. They seem so out of sync with the rest of the game's tone and atmosphere that it’s frankly confusing. Some levels come and go in an instant and some are a frustrating slog through the same basic puzzle three times in order to move on. I just felt hugely bored while actually playing RiME. It’s the weakest part of the whole experience and serves only to fill time between story beats and the revelation of a new environment. Couple this with frustrating, inconsistent controls and I’d honestly rather watch someone play RiME with some nice headphones on than play it again.
RiME’s presentation is by far and away the strongest feature. It has a wonderful, minimalist art design that is complemented immensely by a wonderful lighting system that gives each level a unique atmosphere. I used the PS4’s screenshot functionality more in the 6 or so hours I spent with RiME than in virtually any other game I've played. The game is filled with breathtaking vistas and impressive architecture. It rewards exploration in its levels with hidden areas and collectables that flesh out parts of the world, if somewhat inconsequential to the main game.
The main character's design is simple, yet distinct. Their red cape flows naturally and stands out in stark comparison from the environments around him. The game features a sweeping orchestral soundtrack that ushers players through each level with grace. It’s moving in places and uplifting in others and is a wonderful example of music being used to convey theme and setting. The track "Forgotten City" from YouTube mega-star Lindsey Stirling is a particular highlight. I feel so conflicted about the game because of things like this. While I found the gameplay frankly; boring, from a presentation standpoint it's just immaculate.
While the game looks and sounds fantastic, it certainly doesn’t run that way. The game has a horribly inconsistent frame rate that dropped continuously during my time playing it. Tight spaces with very little detail or graphical heft would repeatedly drop frames whereas wide expanses would run perfectly fine. This didn’t just happen once or twice, frequently I had to pause the game because the framerate was so erratic. I also encountered collision issues with the climbing mechanics that would cause the child to flail in the air indefinitely although thankfully these were few and far between.
When RiME is at it’s best it's like watching an indie animated film. It has some absolutely wonderful art and a truly excellent soundtrack. However, the parts of the game where you actually are playing it are a tired, slow and profoundly dull exercise in basic platforming and puzzling. There is nothing inherently bad about them, they just bring down such a fantastic audio-visual experience by feeling inconsequential and a way to pad time. While the story the game tries to tell is an admirable and heartfelt one, I feel like it’s eventual revelations are not earned and weaken an ending sequence that could have been fantastic. At £30 it feels like a shallow experience when compared to some of its contemporaries, but its excellence in presentation elevates it into something that is certainly interesting, if significantly flawed.
|+ Wonderful, emotional soundtrack.||– Boring gameplay|
|+ Fantastic art design.||– Uneven narrative.|
|+ Expansive, varied levels.||– Consistent performance issues.|