Tequila Works / Grey Box / Six Foot (studio)
26 May 2017 (released)
27 May 2017
There’s no doubt about it that gamers are a sensitive bunch. We love, cry and despise all manner of things as we, like many other groups in humanity have feelings. Games such as Brothers: Tale of Two Sons, Firewatch and To The Moon are experiences that connect on an emotional level in such immense ways. These are popular both critically and financially so the demand for more thought provoking and immersive games are high. Rime is brought to us by the same people who created the brilliant Dead Light and The Sexy Brutale games. The developers are taking their chance to showcase a raw, emotional game with complex lateral elements. Does it work?
We’re given very little at the start of Rime, aside from that we play as a young boy who’s washed up on a beach in an unknown location. Information is scarce and it’s up to the players to guide the young boy and explore the strange place before them. In the process of venturing and discover the core of the mystery, players will engage in several gameplay styles including lateral elements and intension action set pieces.
The young boy can sing and shout as a method of communicating and interacting with various objects in the environment. This maybe to summon a spirit to open a door, scare away a wild boar or to ignite a flaming torch that’ll enlighten a dark area. There’s a vast and beautiful world to explore with a compelling sense of mystery and lore. As there’s no spoken dialogue or written text the game communicates the world’s nature, history and structure through visual aids.
There’s interesting details to discover as you explore, from ship wrecks, graveyards of robotic beasts and labyrinths dripping in shadows and rain that elevate an immense atmosphere for players to enjoy. The world is highly enriching and a wonder to explore and discover. What comes from the narrative (though may it be predictable on what the theme and end will be) is a touching and heartfelt story of loss.
Aside from some very simple puzzles at the beginning, there are some strong lateral elements and sense of meaningful progression in the world. Many of the puzzles are grand in scale and require a combination of timing and cognitive thinking. Later in the game certain stages themselves become highly lateral taking form of complex labyrinths, that’ll test your memory and ambition to explore the unknown without being overly complicated.
Rime also has an abundance of collectives and small notes to discover, adding substance to both narrative and the emotional impact the game offers without feeling forced. You can go back and find these items which range from stuff toys, segments of lullabies and visual representations of our leading character’s past life. Otherwise players can simply venture out into the series of breath-taking worlds and explore the vast and staggeringly beautiful landscapes.
Rime presents a passive approach to the large portion of the journey, focusing on lateral and explorative elements foremost. But there is a great sense of conflict which are enforced through some memorable encounters. From a menacing griffin who stalks you in the outside areas of a dessert inspired realm to sinister and shadowy figures who’ll suck the live from you. Combat is simple yet highly enjoyable and effective when introduced. Players will have the chance to fight back the world’s shadowy figures by smashing brightly lit orbs and releasing a wave of light that’s burns away darkness. It’s a relieving and satisfying wave of emotion that grants you joy just by surviving these intimidating beings.
While Rime is, a fantastic emotional journey filled with some great gameplay elements, it’s let down by several technical issues. Playing on the Xbox One I found the game to struggle with a consistent and fluent framerate as it dropped to low double digits. This issue impacts heavily as the world is so beautiful and at times, you’re actions such as releasing the orbs of light can be impaired by crippling framerate. There were other odd glitches which I encountered including a couple of moments where the music stopped and started over a minute or so later. Lastly the controls are a little crude in execution as dropping from small leaps will spiral the boy out of control for a few moments, making some of the delicate platforming sections a little agonising.
That said, Rime is a superb game which beautiful visuals and substance to match with a meaningful story, heart-breaking story and great gameplay elements. I highly recommend checking out Rime and supporting these talented developers who have proven their worth this year.
++ Beautiful aesthetics
++ Compelling world design
+ Emotionally weighted narrative
-- Technical issues including framerate drops
- Simplistic lateral elements in early stages of the campaign
An Xbox One review copy of Rime was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review