RiME is an emotional ride from beginning to end, touching upon pretty much every feeling that you could possibly have. The visuals and music in the game meld beautifully with one another, and it would make a fantastic animated film. Therein lies problem that I have with the game, that even though it’s an emotional journey, it’s hardly even a game. In terms of genre, it’s a puzzle-platformer, but it’s not a very complex one, and it’s barely challenging, except for when you’re trying to find all the collectibles. Even then, it’s not hard to get to the collectibles once you figure out where they are, but the paths to them are pretty well hidden, usually. Let’s talk about the ups and downs of RiME, and the things that hold it back from being the best indie game this year.
RiME has an aesthetic appeal that’s reminiscent of Wind Waker, with the cel-shaded graphics, fantastic atmospheric lighting, and particle effects. It’s one of the most beautiful games that I’ve ever played, really, especially in the first portion of the game that takes place on a lush, sun-soaked island. The water looks amazing, the main character has a great design, cutscenes are soaked with emotion, every little thing tugs at your heart strings. I will say that there are some sections that take place in ruins/dungeons throughout the game where the brightness needs to be turned way up to see anything. There are other parts that are just straight-up supposed to be pitch black, that you have to “sing” in to light up the floor and see where you’re going.
This leads me to talk about the one somewhat unique part of the game, which is yelling, humming, and singing. This is all one button, and it’s pretty much how you activate and do anything that doesn’t require pushing or pulling. For whatever reason, yelling and singing has an effect on almost everything in the game, from lighting torches to activating switches. It’s not exactly the craziest gameplay element, it’s not going to blow any minds, but it does have some cool effects at certain points. The other gameplay elements are pretty much just running, jumping, and climbing, stuff that other games do much better. There’s also a roll button that you literally never have to use in the game, and it doesn’t really make you go any faster like it does in Zelda games. Yay for pointless buttons.
This is my dilemma with RiME, when I finished the game, I was overcome with emotion, because even though there’s no dialogue, the last 45 minutes or so just killed me. I had to let the game sit for a bit after I finished it to give it a fair review, and not just gush about how I cried like a little girl. The game is short, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome too much, even with the repetitive, unchallenging gameplay. If I was reviewing a movie, I would give this a 95/100, easily, but I’m not, this is a game, and the gameplay has to be as fun as the story is engrossing. The game not only left me asking myself “What did that mean?”, but it left me asking “What the hell was I doing for the last 4 hours?”.
For $30, RiME should have some more compelling gameplay to go with the amazing visuals and story. If the game was half of that price, I think that it would be pretty fair. Limbo and Inside are examples of puzzle-platformers that have engaging gameplay and a compelling narrative, RiME really only has the narrative. There’s only a handful of different types of puzzles, repeated in slightly varied ways each time. It’s not a bad game, it’s just repetitive, and none of the gameplay elements are anything to write home about. The voice-related puzzles look cool, but if you really think about it, you’re just walking around slamming a button over and over.
If you want an emotional adventure right now, and you don’t care about the $30 price tag because you just need to feel some feels, buy RiME now. If you’re looking for a puzzle-platofrmer that actually challenges you, and makes you think, look elsewhere. The gameplay just isn’t really good enough to warrant the price tag right now, and I, personally, would wait for a drop. This game is something that you play in a single day, just turn off your phone and get sucked into the pretty visuals and emotional story. It’s pretty, and it’s nice, but it’s not perfect, and it could be much better in the gameplay department.
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