RiME Review – Level Headed

A good game that could have been a veritable great one.

Developer: Tequila Works
Publisher: Tequila Works
Format: Nintendo Switch (TBD), PC, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One
Released: May 26, 2017
Copy provided by publisher

RiME is not a particularly original experience, wearing its Team ICO inspirations on its sleeve and treading a path worn well by countless independent adventures. While its inferred story is heartfelt, its attempts to tug the heartstrings are somewhat trite while the gameplay consists mostly of puzzles that involve blocks, A.I. companions, and other sequences we’ve seen many times before.

Where Tequila Works succeeds is not in providing an innovative puzzle adventure, but an expertly directed one. While shifting blocks or aligning shapes to progress may walk familiar territory, the world in which RiME‘s hindrances occur is fantastically designed, providing the illusion of openness within environments cleverly built to guide the player along correct pathways using subtle visual clues and very little signposting.

Solving a puzzle is often rewarded with a sweeping audiovisual result and an unlocked path that’s enjoyable to simply traverse even if there’s no “gameplay” on offer. RiME is another one of those games that manage to provide their best experiences when mechanics and challenges are set aside so the player can simply exist in an evocative world.

At times, RiME comes close to matching Journey with inspiring landscapes and musical pieces that make one feel like part of a grand – yet personal – adventure. Though graphically quite simple, color and bold artistry keep things impressive, while animations create a small cast of characters that exude feeling without saying a word.

While not particular original, RiME‘s puzzles are well thought out and a number of solutions are quite cleverly achieved. The unidentified child protagonist’s main method of solving a problem is to yell – by shouting near glowing statues, the child can activate them to produce various effects, usually opening a door or raising a platform.

Some statues look directly at the player when called, while others send out trailing lights to whatever device they’re triggering. Glowing orbs can amplify one’s shout to activate multiple statues at once, leading to some of the more interesting challenges.

World variety is a big part of what keeps the whole adventure fresh. There are five worlds built not just around a particular thematic premise but a “running” puzzle element that sets the mood. The second world, for example, is an open desert patrolled by a huge birdlike monster, forcing players to run from shelter to shelter and avoid getting caught.

World three, meanwhile, focuses primarily on using a companion to activate switches and open previously inaccessible paths.

With five environments dealing out unique atmospheres and mechanical trappings, RiME feels a lot fresher than it otherwise would. At the same time, it retains various elements throughout the entire experience to maintain consistency.

It’s this balance, as well as the elegant mapping of each world overall, that makes RiME a damn impressive specimen from a level design perspective.

Less impressive are the controls, which undermine the positive aspects to a noticeable degree.

While generally competent enough to deal with, RiME occasionally irritates with the way the protagonist handles. Sometimes they’ll fail to grab ledges properly, or the game will stutter animations because players were supposed to walk into particular raised areas rather than jump onto them. In these situations, the game will smack the player back with an awkward invisible wall and force them to step forward.

At other times, camera perspective will confuse the protagonist and players will need to manipulate the analog stick like they’re cracking a safe, finding the tiny sliver of a sweet spot that’ll cause progression.

One particular area, with some ship’s netting viewed from a side-on perspective, was a real cause of trouble. Neither up nor right got the character moving, despite the netting being viewed from its left. I eventually climbed it by tilting the stick to the upper-left, but only at a very specific angle.

Aside from that, we have the unwelcome problem of environmental objects temporarily “hooking” the player character in place, and a number of traversal animations that, like The Last Guardian before it, are overly ponderous and interrupt the sense of gameplay flow.

RiME‘s controls are not horrific, they’re just annoying in little but frequent ways, enough to hold back what could have been a truly terrific game.

It’s a short one too, which shall inevitably put off some players.

Clocking in at a couple of hours only, Tequila Works has tossed a bunch of collectibles into the mix to support some fragile replay value, though frankly I found their presence distracting. The game world is so beautifully designed that sidetracking away from wonderfully paced sequences to find arbitrary shells and other junk feels like a disservice.

To the developer’s credit, these collectibles do come into play as part of the game’s three or four endings (they’re not multiple endings, it’s just the game has that many logical end points but doesn’t quite know how to wrap things up), but after a while I ignored them because the game honestly works better when following a linear route.

RiME is certainly one of those games that prove how ridiculous it is to rail against linearity considering how a well paced, smartly designed corridor can be as enchanting, if not more so, than any massive open world on the market.

If it had controlled better and its “emotional” bullet points didn’t come off like “sad indie game does a sad thing” convention, the potential is there for this to be an all-time great. As it is, RiME offers a fantastically designed world with some neat obstacles and a superb linear flow, held back by technicalities and instances of the banal.

7.5/10
Good

Spencer Trumbore
Guest
Spencer Trumbore

It’s a lot longer than 2 hours if you look for all the items, like I did, until I got bored of it. It’s a good enough game. I don’t regret playing it. Stops short of being great.

Wilson
Guest
Wilson

Rime 7.5
Zelda BOTW 7.0

WTF!! xDDDD

Jamie
Guest
Jamie
it does look really nice, when the game isnt dark as hell but gameplay wise i found it to be one of the most boring games ive ever played. I had to force myself to finish it and have no intention of replaying it. Puzzles were so easy they may as well have not been there and story wise, well there is no story. you just wonder around for 5 hours doing nothing then get the ending. Plus the twist was so godamn obvious i dont know how anyone could not realise the whole ‘plot’ in the first 5 minutes.… Read more »
Sylentmana
Guest
Sylentmana

I think I’m gonna give this one a go. I love the whole, lost ancient super advanced civilization thing going on.

Zack “Shadowkat” West
Member

Jim, minor correction but this game was published by Grey Box, not Tequila.

Grey Box is the publisher of Grey Goo and Dreadnought.

Stormbringer
Guest
Stormbringer

Just on a web search, it looks like Tequila made it, and Grey Box is a publisher. Another publisher is called Six Foot. Two publishers.

Simon
Guest
Simon

These are the guys who made the Sexy Brutale?

Jerry
Guest
Jerry
Overall I mostly agree with his thoughts on the game. Does a lot of things well, could’ve been better etc. BUT, what I would REALLY like to know: How tf are you gonna say this game can be beaten in two hours? I play games slow af, so I’m sure my initial 8 hour playthrough was on the long side, but I also played it again (because I’m a trophy whore). And speeding through the game it still took me roughly four hours. Looking online, the consensus seems to be around six hours give or take. So either you’re a… Read more »
Maddy
Member

I’d say you gave it a point too many, but then again I did call the game “artistic vandalism” in conversation.

LegendaryFrog
Guest
LegendaryFrog

I think I’ve become so ‘anti-hype machine’ that I’ve started to miss out on games I’d genuinely be interested in. I didn’t even hear about this game until the last Podquisition (or was it in Jimquisition?). I love everything Team Ico so this this looks right up my alley.

Warwick
Guest
Warwick

I didn’t even know Friday the 13th had been released until yesterday. I may be actively avoiding hype as well.

BAH!
Member
BAH!

I’ve had this game in the back of my mind for a while, but I never would have guessed it was so short. No a deal-breaker, but I’m not buying full price. Of course, I rarely do, anyway.

Still, good review. I look forward to getting my hands on it eventually.

drownedsummer
Guest
drownedsummer

It is worth mentioning that it isn’t a £60 game and is only £24. No idea of prices in different countries though.

Edderiofer Edderiofer
Member

But if it’s only a 5-hour game that’s got slightly annoying controls, £24 is probably still too much for it in my eyes. I think £15 is the absolute max I might be willing to pay for it. Then again, I *am* pretty stingy with my puzzle games, so it could just be me.

BAH!
Member
BAH!

I didn’t anticipate it to be $60, but even $30 feels a little much. And what are the chances it won’t be more expensive on the Switch?

drownedsummer
Guest
drownedsummer

Initially, it was announced to be more on the Switch and then lowered that price when it was criticsed. Time will tell.

Sperium3000
Member

I guess everyone’s still salty about Zelda? Everyone who even mentions it gets voted down for no reason.

InfamousDS
Guest
InfamousDS

They get .5 points more salty every time it gets mentioned.

Booksds
Member

*Better than Breath of the Wild*

OtakuHanzo
Member

Liking the new comment section, Jim. #FucKonami

HaveSomeOatmeal
Guest
HaveSomeOatmeal

Sounds like RiME is an okay time.

I’ll be in the timeout corner.

JDINCINERATOR
Guest
JDINCINERATOR

There’s no Rime or reason for that.

wildstorm357
Guest
wildstorm357

How disappointing.

Chip Self
Guest
Chip Self

I bought it on Steam and almost immediately returned it after the Denuvo bullshit slowed my game down to hell. Wait for a patch on all systems if you are interested.

Caveat emptor.

EmperorSRB
Guest
EmperorSRB

Wasn’t Denuvo removed already ?

squid spitt
Guest
squid spitt

Talking of getting the game Patched!!!! Use the CODEX crk patch. It does wonders….LOL!!

Enuo
Guest
Enuo

So its a little better than Zelda. That’s one hell of a recommendation.

tobascodagama
Member

Definitely gonna pick this one up on Steam after the Denuvo nonsense gets removed. I’m a sucker for the please-don’t-call-it-a-walking-sim-it’s-got-some-puzzles genre.

Fallen Prime
Member
Fallen Prime

So it’s 5% better than Breath of the Wild?

ChaosReigner
Member

psh, that’s bad math, it’s like 15% better than botw (i think, i’m bad at math). nah, you don’t review things in the same genre together; like it’s a 7.5 compared to journey whilst botw is a 7 compared to dragon’s dogma or skyrim. But I’m not the one to ask, I kind of found botw dull after 15 hours (well before then but that’s when I gave up), so dunno.

Minihood
Member
Fair, I felt similar. Disappointed by how short it was. Annoyed by collectibles that made me want to slow down and explore to find them all, while the game was most enjoyable just going straight through ignoring them. The level design was very good though. A lot of the levels felt huge, but took a lot less time to traverse than you would expect. The raining labyrinth especially seems massive, but is much smaller than it appears. One last thing I want to say is that I found that some areas had frame rate issues, not sure if it was… Read more »
Bobo The Space Monkey
Guest
Bobo The Space Monkey

Was totally uninterested in it (didn’t know it was a puzzle game), until I saw they will remove denuvo if the game is cracked. If they will indeed do it soon, I will definitely buy it.

DaTruth
Guest
DaTruth

Already got cracked… now it’s just waiting of the dev to get rid of that junk

MrSantiago
Guest
MrSantiago

“The unidentified child protagonist’s main method of solving a problem is to yell”
So, is the game a metaphor for traveling the internet?

Christian
Guest
Christian

The child could just as easily be the Dovahkiin.

Klarden
Member

Nice, shame it hits some of the wrong points and banalities. Also seems to be “enjoying” some denuvo controversy on PC (apparently the implementation is either bugged or just plain insane there).
Still super interested though. And goddamn it looks good.

Glad that Tequila managed to make a good game after the messy Deadlight, and worked on another good game you recently loved as well, despite all the development issues.

vexer
Guest
vexer

I quite liked Deadlight, though this one does not sound very good.

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