Review – Rime
Rime is a game a lot of people never thought would actually see the light of day. It was initially pitched as an exclusive for both the Xbox and Playstation platformers at separate points many years ago, but after years of complete silence, the game was released for all platforms, Switch included. Did it turn out to be worth the wait?
Although a lot of people started hyping the game, believing it was some sort of Wind Waker clone (and I have no idea why, maybe due to the fact you’re on an island?), Rime is actually a story-driven puzzle-platformer, reminiscent of games like Ico, Destiny (with much more actual gameplay) and, in some segments, The Last Guardian. It tells the story of a castaway kid who’s stuck on an island. At first, all you know about the game is that you need to escape this island. Later on, after a few hours, the game’s story begins to unfold, without a single line of dialogue being spoken. Storytelling is, without a doubt, one of this game’s strongest aspects.
Rime is a gorgeous game, and knocks it out of the park when it comes to its artistic department. It is a beautiful game with a spectacular, flawless soundtrack (I found it even better than Destiny‘s already acclaimed soundtrack), and beautiful graphics, which feature very colorful but subtle cel shading. Sadly, the game features a lot of framerate slowdowns, especially in open sections. Weirdly enough, in a level which featured constant rainfall, the game ran perfectly. What do I know…
One thing I particularly liked about Rime is how it teaches you how to play with little to no actual tutorial text onscreen. It often makes your brain quickly associate some recurring gameplay elements by the color of the objects onscreen. If a ledge is white, you can climb it. If something glows in green, you can interact with it with your shout button. If something is red and moves, you should follow it in order to reach the next objective. If an object glows in gold, you can either pick it up or move it around. If there’s something a little bit different than those standard colorful puzzles, a simple and discreet button prompt will show, keeping the HUD minimal and not giving you many tips on what to do next.
The game’s puzzles aren’t exactly the most varied, ranging from simultaneously activating a certain number of shout-based gems to solving some simple two-character puzzles with a big robot companion a-la The Last Guardian (albeit a less infuriating robot, as he actually obeys your bloody orders). Most puzzles are carefully crafted in order to make you think a bit before solving it, but also not making your head explode due to the difficulty. Granted, there are a few of them that will either require you to completely scavenge the room for every solution that comes to your head, or just completely give up and check an online walkthrough.
There are other flaws to be listed, by the way, with the biggest offender of them all being the gameplay. Rime‘s controls are decent enough for its actually simplistic gameplay, but said gameplay suffers from two main issues: the game’s somewhat wonky camera and the character’s movements being somewhat, well, “rigid.” It’s quite hard to properly describe the problem with the little boy’s movements, being something you need to experience for yourself in order to fully understand, but I can assure you it is an issue.
Another slight problem is something that haunts pretty much every single artistic indie game out there: its duration. Rime isn’t a very long game. It took me around 5 hours to beat, and that includes getting stuck in some pretty annoying puzzles for some time. Thankfully, the game does feature lots (and I really mean it, LOTS) of collectibles for the trophy hoarders out there, as well as a level selection option after you beat the game, in order to look out more easily for those very well-hidden treasures.
Rime, though indeed flawed, was also way more enjoyable than I’d expected. Not only did it feature interesting exploration and some very clever puzzles, but it also made me care about the protagonist and his hardships, not to mention the plot twists in the last fourth of the game. The fact it has a ton of collectibles and secrets to unfold helps increase its replayability value quite a bit. And its ending, oh boy, feelings were felt.
It’s great to see yet another game escaping development hell and turning out to be pretty good!
Reviewed on Xbox One.
Also available on: PS4, PC, Switch