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Rime – PlayStation 4

Rime – PlayStation 4

Rime [Box Art]Platform: PlayStation 4

Developer: Tequila Works

Publisher: Grey Box, Six Foot

Genre: Action/Adventure, Platformer

Release Date: May 26th, 2017

Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10

Ever since I first laid eyes on the concept art and gameplay demos of Rime, I was hooked. A cartoonish-looking game that takes place in the middle of the ocean, where you chase down a giant white tower in Wind Waker fashion? Hell yeah, count me in! Time went on in the game’s development cycle, and I became even more emboldened by reviews featuring the developers at Tequila Works, who talked about how Rime was conceptualized around non-linguistic gameplay that sought to teach the player the rules in organic methods. Awesome!

Rime [Tequila Works 2]Tequila Works is a Spanish developer comprised of members that come from a variety of different video game backgrounds, joining together to create “small things, with gusto.” Let’s take a look at their most recent project, Rime. Does the final product live up to the expectations I’ve been pouring into it?


Rime [White Tower]

Rime kicks off as one of the cozier games that I’ve played this year; waking up on the shores of an abandoned beach, the red-scarfed main character surveys the quiet land around him, as the player is beckoned forth to explore deeper into the island. Cool, pastel blue waters lap at the sandy shores, as timid crabs scurry away at my approach. Overall, Rime’s initial impression is not bad.

The platforming mechanics are introduced immediately. Climbing around rocky ledges, the young boy hops over bits of ocean and bounds across earthen walls using mechanics that are very similar to those featured in The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Now I’m all about me some Sands of Time, so these surprisingly familiar mechanics, though relatively simple, were not at all unwelcome. Employing my newfound skills, I emerged from a rocky outcropping, greeted by the swath of land that represents the game’s initial zone.

Rime [Puzzle 3]

After a bit of exploring, it becomes clear that the island is filled with magical idols, statues, and doorways that the player must learn to activate in order to reach a giant white tower that stands in the center of it all. And the gameplay is kind of fun. Truth told, there’s not a whole lot of challenge there, but on plenty of occasions Rime was able to surprise me with the imaginative ways of incorporating rules into its magical world in a nostalgic, almost child-like fashion.

Imagine looking at an archway from just the right perspective against a wall. And lo! A door manifests itself inside the wall! Imagine turning a lever against a door to discover that the door’s destination changes like magic! A lot of the ideas presented by Rime are simple, yet executed pretty well in ways that remind me of my own childhood imaginations. These ideas are present throughout the entirety of Rime, as each section or chapter of the game takes on its own trends and themes, where ideas and mechanics will flesh themselves out along the course of an area. These sections ramp the game up pretty smoothly, with an appropriate difficulty level along the way.

Rime [Puzzle 2]

And these ideas are typically presented in the form of puzzles. The puzzles aren’t particularly hard, and usually take under five minutes to complete, but they’re still kinda fun. I would have liked a little bit more challenge in this area or a higher puzzle volume perhaps, but as it stands Rime is a pretty full game with probably six hours of play time there.

Performing these puzzles can be kind of fun, but as I played, it was often hard to escape the notion that I was just going through the motions. Due to the relatively low level of difficulty in most of the puzzles, it was as if I was just doing the proper inputs most of the time without having to do a whole lot of thinking. The developers at Tequila Works may have been proud of their non-linguistic, non-handholding form of game design, which is good and all, but it just comes off as a little basic. I totally appreciate what the developers were going for, but it doesn’t feel like as much work was put into really teaching the player something new versus just relying on the player’s built-in gaming knowledge to figure it out.

Rime [Level Design]

The level design, upon which most of the game finds foundation, is good, but not great. Spaces are usually pretty clearly laid out and there was almost no uncertainty over where I was supposed to go. However, the cordoned off regions were a little too frequent and a little too obvious. I noticed this phenomenon in Firewatch, and Rime commits a few of the same errors. For example, I can think of more than just a couple of areas where I wasn’t able to hop over a wall or reach the top of the ledge, even though I’ve seen the main character clear bigger obstacles before, and occasionally I would say to myself “I can totally climb over that. Why can’t the main character?”

It’s some real bullshit when games pull that move to cordon the player off from regions in very blatant ways that don’t even make any sense. At least put a really tall wall, or fill a doorway with rubble, or put a huge gap in the floor, or something. The world of Rime presents itself as an open area with plenty of space, but the level design, itself funnels you through an extremely linear path, with almost no opportunities to accomplish tasks in different ways or get a little lost.

Rime [Fox]

Over the course of the game, the player slowly gleans information about an overarching story as the main character works to activate all of the features hidden in the depths of the tower. Let me slow down for a second; I may have been a bit misleading when I said “story.” Truth told, Rime‘s connection to its story is extremely tenuous, to the point where the story could simply not exist and it would roughly be the same game. At the same time, I do appreciate how the story works with the game’s theme, as the developers worked to make each chapter represent a different facet of the story in cool and creative ways. In that respect, it’s pretty cool, and serves as a testament to Rime‘s pacing, but it feels a little forced and shoed-in pretty close to the end. I think it would have been cooler if there were ways for the player to interact with the story elements a bit more during the entirety of the game. The ending was fine, but I actually feel like my experience could have been stronger if I knew the ending ahead of time, thus allowing me to put together all the themes as the story develops.

Rime [Main Character]

Wrapping things up, let’s take a quick look at the graphics. They’re good, but not great. The developers opted for a cel-shaded style reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Unfortunately, it’s not always perfect, since the environment looks better than just about anything else. The main character looks a little weird in my opinion, so that seems like a bit of an oversight. That said, the bright and vibrant color palette works perfectly for the adventuring atmosphere of Rime, so it’s a bit of a plus-minus.

Okay, now for the soundtrack. And would you believe it, the soundtrack is GREAT! On top of that, they even got Lindsey freakin’ Sterling to record some songs! What?! Tequila Works really spared no expense in terms of the soundtrack, and it sure as hell shows, helping to greatly emphasize the atmosphere during various sections throughout Rime. Overall, this game knocked it out of the park with the soundtrack, so kudos.


Rime [Final Image]Rime is a fun game. It is cozy, enjoyable, and not really stressing. It looks good and it sounds amazing. The gameplay is good and even really creative in more than one way, but at the end of the day it doesn’t have a whole lot of things going on there. Rime is more of a relaxation game, not really asking a whole lot from the player, yet still capable of delivering a rewarding gaming experience.

There are a few things that I might have changed about this game. I would have opened the world up a bit more, and I would have made the puzzles a bit harder, or included more puzzles. I would have taken away the story or altered it in order to better highlight the game’s overarching theme. All of these areas represent shortfalls or oversights to me, and if they were changed Rime might just be a great game.

But, as it stands, it’s a good game. A lot of really fascinating ideas were presented in Rime, and I’d be very interested to see what Tequila Works has in the future. I had fun with Rime, and it’s not super expensive. If you’re into adventure games, I would recommend it.

 

Written by Nips

 
 

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5 Comments

  1. Hey Poseidon. Good points. I think it’s one of those games that looks gorgeous and appears to have promise, but really fails to deliver. You can’t release a buggy or crappy game with the premise of “oh we’ll just fix those after release.” If you do that, the word will be out about how shitty your game is before you ever fix the issues!! Anyway, I agree though. Laziness is noticeable.

     
    • I agree. At the end of the day though, I would say that Rime delivered quite a bit more than other ‘over-hyped’ games did.

       
  2. I have to agree with Nerdberry here! Excellent writing! I was eyeing this game on shelves for a while, deciding whether or not to say “f**k it” and just buy it. Now I’ve made my decision. I don’t think I’ll be picking this one up. Invisible walls and developer laziness KILL games for me. I may rent it or borrow it just to play through and say I did it, but it just doesn’t seem like my cup ‘o’ tea.

     
  3. Nerdberry
    Nerdberry says:

    Hey nips! Really excellent review! Great writing

     

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