RIVE was without a doubt one of my favorite games that I checked out at PAX East, and without a doubt, it’s a game made by gamers, for gamers. The clever narrative combined with the extremely fast-paced side-scrolling shooting action just felt good, both to watch and to play. I watched several different people step up to try the demo, and although a couple got pretty close to finishing, most usually gave up at harder segments.
When I got to chat with the guys at Two Tribes, they didn’t even have to sell me on the game – I was already sold – but I still wanted to talk because those guys were freaking awesome! It was great hearing how super stoked they were about the game. This wasn’t some side project for these guys, this game is their baby – their hulking metal baby equipped with machine guns, rockets, and booster packs. Two Tribes hails from the Netherlands, which means you already know they’re badass, and they’re not interested in using pixel art or any “new retro” technology to make their game. The artwork is absolutely beautiful: dark and mysterious in some places, breathtakingly majestic in others.
When I got my hands on the controller, I was immediately blasting away at asteroids, avoiding lasers, and shooting down hostile missiles while hurtling towards a strange space station. Once inside, gravity turns back on and you plunk down on the deck. One thing that really struck me was how good the weight of everything felt. The tank you control is just heavy enough to really feel like it’s got some presence there, the machine gun you have by default feels like a beastly cannon, and explosions rock the screen make everything around them tremble. It just felt good.
Enemies sometimes show up out of nowhere, forcing you to have some pretty good reflexes if you don’t want to take heavy damage, and narrowly escaping death by dodging an EMP shot or heavy machine gun fire just feels so good. The one boss that was in the demo was well done, constantly opening himself up to attacks, but also keeping you busy by sending kamikaze bots after you, forcing you to really think about who you want to focus fire on: the boss or his bots. With the boss down, you can move on to a couple more sections that introduce some new game mechanics such as being able to hack kamikaze bots to fly around with them, along with other Metroid-style upgrades.
I wanted to keep playing, but before I knew it, the demo was over and I was a few hundred points short of having the high score (must work harder). RIVE is a fresh new take on 2D action platformers, and is going to be a must have for fans of the genre or fans of Metroid-vania style gameplay who are tired of the same old Super-Metroid clones that get pooped out now and then. Be on the lookout for it this year!
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