Rising Islands is a platformer that requires quick thinking and fast reflexes. Each level presents a variety of jumps, wall runs, and grinds that increase in difficulty to challenge the ability of the players. Lone Hero Studios found some inspiration with its color switching mechanic that is frequently used throughout the game. The graphics can be a hit or a miss depending on the level, but the music is really refreshing and seems to feel even better when hitting all the jumps in a timely fashion. Having played the game in its pre-release state, I can say that Rising Islands has shown a massive improvement. The addition of the remaining worlds and tweaks to the game’s camera have made my experience much more enjoyable.
The story in Rising Islands is somewhat cliché. It follows a female protagonist, Hairo, who is given the ability to shift between dimensions by two guardians in order to help reinforce the world before it is destroyed by the evil Boss. In order to stop this madness, Hairo will have to locate the remaining relic pieces so that the evil Boss does not become more powerful.
Though the description of the story is rather thin, it was a really nice choice by Lone Hero Studios to go with a female protagonist. My issue with the character is that she seems soulless due to the lack of dialogue and facial expressions. When taking the production value of the game into account, I can accept the lack of dialogue and facial expressions. Overall, the story in Rising Islands fits the context of game’s content but does not leave a lasting impression as it is easily forgettable.
Much of the gameplay in Rising Islands consists of big jumps, beautifully crafted wall runs, and grinds. However, the main attraction here is the mechanic that enables players to switch colors at will in order to access various jumps, platforms, and avoid a variety of obstacles. With each passing stage, the difficulty receives a significant boost in order to create an intense experience. It was surprising to see the introduction to new mechanics because the obstacles that were presented were enough for me. Nevertheless, when I acquired the dash ability in world 2, it enabled me to cover giant gaps between cliffs and gliding through the air made me feel like a super hero.
If you would like to see Rising Islands in action, take a look at my Let’s Play video below:
Regardless of the world that I was playing in, I always felt a sense of tension and relief when committing to the jumps in addition to the wall runs. A majority of the wall runs reminded me of games such as Prince of Persia but with an increased difficulty. This would have been fantastic if the increase in difficulty wasn’t due to the camera which caused a few missed jumps.
It is important to mention that when I initially began playing Rising Islands, it was not fully polished. Since then, there have been noticeable changes that make the game much smoother and enjoyable to play. Seeing the game evolve from where it was to where it is now is one of the rare pleasures in gaming.
The environments in Rising Islands look good but can really be a hit or a miss in regards to the broader spectrum. For example, the majestic mountains in world 1 get diluted by some of the cliffs and other set pieces due to the slight graphical differences with all the assets. These issues do not really matter when Hairo is running, jumping, or grinding through the environment because of the speed of her movements and how important it is for the player to focus on each obstacle. My favorite environment is in world 1. The reason is because it is the most consistent of the 3 from my perspective due to the lighting and color palettes used. It was also the most visually pleasing world to look at when running, jumping, and gliding through the air.
In worlds 2 and 3, environments do not look as good. Various set pieces within these worlds look like they could use some additional polish. My biggest issue in regards to the environments is the snow in world 2. Snow can be tricky to create but it does not have to look like someone took a bucket of white paint and threw it at a canvas. It really seems like the attention to detail was somewhat ignored and that is a real shame because with more develop time, the environments could look really beautiful.
Sound of Music
This is kind of a tough topic to decipher for a few reasons. The sound in Rising Islands is actually pretty good but there is somewhat of a lack of it. Running is met with every other few steps not generating a sound and jumping does not seem to create the nature sound person makes when thrusting or landing. It is really hard to believe but the truth is little elements like this can really have a negative effect on a player’s experience. With that said, other sounds ranging from shifting to dashing all had their unique sound. It is too bad that the sound couldn’t add to the experience because it is such a crucial part of any game.
In regards to the music, it is a lot worse to be quite honest. Every stage seems to have a variation of the introduction stage, if not the EXACT SAME SONG. Choosing a song for a level usually comes down to the moment and action on the screen. The problem with Rising Islands is that the song choice seems like it is been programed to play in a loop. Personally, I feel the choice in music was a missed opportunity and should be updated in a future patch to add more variety in the game.
Intensions on the part of Lone Hero Studios were great but some of our greatest failures were met with the best of intensions. Fortunately, Rising Islands is a not a failure and is placed in a situation that can easily be remedied with future updates or patches. Until the day comes where these issues can properly addressed, the tension of running, jumping, and scaling walls will be marred by the inconsistent sound and half-baked music – not to mention the inconsistent graphics. It is a real shame because as a fan of games such as Ikaruga and Outland, Rising Islands has the potential to be just as good if not better as those games. Hopefully there will be a patch to address all of the game’s issues in the future but something tells me not to hold my breath.
If players are interested in playing Rising Islands, the game will be available through Steam on August 2nd.
|+ Increasing Difficulty||– Sound|
|+ Familiar Mechanics||– Loopy Music|
|– Thin Story|