RiME‘s story is a modest, yet enigmatic, tale about a boy who has been washed ashore on an island. He must use his mystic voice to communicate with other animals, spirits and objects to solve puzzles and ultimately discover the mysteries of the island. The biggest mystery being the enormous, chalk white tower and the identity of the mysterious red-cloaked individual that monitors his progress throughout the game. RiME includes puzzle and platforming elements but is that enough to make it an entertaining title?
Beautiful soundtrack – RiME‘s artistry is without a doubt unquestionable as it makes superb use of its audio, both for the equally impressive sound cues and an emotive, melancholic orchestral score. While it’s capable of evoking wonder, awe and somberness within the player it also enhances the story. RiME’s environment tends to promote the idea of isolation and loss, apart from the fox spirit, in its wild animals and the mysterious red-cloaked person. There are few instances of other presences available as you play through the story and the music is used to promote this effect. It is very evident from the utilization of the piano and violin as the core centerpiece that they reinforce the idea of isolation and loneliness
Astonishing detail – The first thing which can immediately be noticed is the beautiful scenery present in RiME. There are many locations in which you oversee large sections of the island to grasp the vibrant colors used in the plants, rocks and buildings. One notable detail includes the walking animation of the main character. Although this may seem redundant, it is extremely unique to see the main character have various walking animations depending on which surface he is treading on. For example, if the player character is walking in ankle-deep water, the character will walk differently compared to normally traversing across a grassy plain. One other impressive feature is the ever-present day and night cycle; as time progresses it will slowly turn from morning to evening and then to night before it repeats. While this may seem like a small touch, the day and night cycle is used to solve several puzzles in the game. Some puzzles require you to cover certain buttons with your shadow, so sometimes you need to wait for a certain time for when your shadow is the longest so you can complete the puzzle. This inclusion and its effect on the player character’s shadow is a very interesting mechanic, especially since it perfectly replicates what would happen to someone’s shadow in real life.
Ease of puzzles – RiME has many puzzles which need to be completed to access new areas of the island. What RiME does excellently is scaling the difficulty of the puzzles as the game progresses. As one might expect, the puzzles near the start of the game are simple but as you progress through chapters the puzzles get slightly more difficult. RiME manages to never make the puzzles too difficult to allow for even casual players to be able to work through without getting stuck. Furthermore, there are a large variation of puzzles utilized which removes monotony. Each puzzle type is introduced in a controlled environment: the player must complete a straight forward puzzle using a new form of mechanic. After successful completion the player will usually be directed to a slightly harder puzzle which utilizes the exact same mechanics, which reinforces the new techniques learnt.
Frame-rate issues/long loading times – Despite all the positives that have been discussed, there are a few glaring issues that the game exhibits. The first of these is the constant frame-rate drops that are experienced while playing. Whenever the player pans the camera out in the open, they will usually experience large frame-rate drops. The same also applies if the player is up high in a tower or on a cliff edge overseeing the environment. The sheer number of objects and buildings on screen seem to have a detrimental effect on the performance of the graphics. A second minor problem is the long loading time. Whenever you start the game or complete a chapter you will enter a loading screen. To put this into perspective, it took 52 seconds to regain control of my player character after hitting the “reload from last checkpoint” command in the pause menu. Although this is a minor nit-pick, the long loading time in RiME allows you to appreciate other titles which only contain a few seconds of loading screens per chapter. On the upside though, once a chapter loads up, there are no more loading screens until you complete that chapter. Each chapter can last anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours, so there’s a lot of uninterrupted game-play before you hit your next loading screen.
Game length/price of game – There is no doubt that RiME is a good example of what a puzzle-platformer should aspire to be but, unfortunately, the game only has 5 main chapters with the latter two that can easily be completed in the space of 30 minutes. The first three chapters could take around five hours of game-play to complete, so in total there really is only 6-8 hours of content in RiME, if time is used to explore the island to locate hidden collectibles. 6-8 hours of content is not necessarily a bad thing, but the price of £24/$30 may be seen as very expensive for the small amount of content delivered.
Lack of signposting – Many games have audio or visual cues to indicate the correct location the player must venture to. RiME does have a form of “hand-holding” in the form of a mystical fox spirit to guide the player in the correct direction to proceed. These instances, however, are few and far between as many times you may find yourself lost and unsure on where to actually go to progress the story. For most of the game, the player is free to roam around large outside environments such as a temple, a harsh desert, or grassy plains. In each case it is very easy to get lost locating the correct path when there are multiple locations to visit. Some lead to collectibles, others lead to absolutely nothing, and if the mystical fox spirit does not appear to lead you in the right direction, it is very possible to be running around frantically for minutes on end.
In conclusion, RiME is a puzzle-platformer that every player should experience. Although RiME does have its drawbacks, namely in the lack of signposting and the frame-rate drops, the overall experience is still a good one. If the price is an issue I recommend waiting for a sale. If you’re still not interested in the game I implore that you at least check out the soundtrack as the music is phenomenal for an indie title and, frankly, on the level of other games such as Final Fantasy or Dark Souls.
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RiME was developed by Tequila Works and published by Six Foot and Grey Box. It was released on Xbox One [reviewed], PlayStation 4 and PC on May 26th, 2017. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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