What I would give to lay on the beach and listen to the sound of the crashing waves. In RiME you find yourself doing just that as you wake up on an unknown island. While the protagonist’s situation appears to be that of a shipwreck, the experience of playing this game is more akin to a vacation. It is a breath of fresh air amidst hordes of triple A titles with very little depth and symbolism. RiME is both deep and symbolic.
Although the island is inhabited by wildlife and curious architecture that makes me wonder how it all came to be, the sense of being alone and cut off from the outside world in this beautiful landscape really resonates with me. For the most part, you are in solitude, only briefly interrupted by a fox that guides the way and a mysterious silhouette garbed in red. And this game is shrouded in mystery. Progressing in the game reveals little tidbits of a scattered story, the meaning of which only becomes apparent in the final moments. The end evokes so much emotion and a well-deserved catharsis as I became invested in the story over the course of 6 hours. While trying not to spoil anything, even if you find yourself confused by the cut-scenes, stick with it because when everything finally becomes clear, the experience is a powerful one.
RiME is touted as an open world, third person puzzle game, however it is far from meeting the criteria of open world. In fact, it is quite linear with no real incentive to stray from the path that advances the story. There are a few collectibles to hunt for, but I never felt the urge to go out and find them. It didn’t bring much replay value to the table as once I wrapped my head around the overarching story, I was satisfied with leaving it at that. Sure, the game is artfully beautiful, and the environments come to life with the colorful, cell-shaded graphics comparable to the Windwaker, but the worlds are unfortunately very much empty with nothing to truly take in. Devoid of any real life, the lands featured in the game are, on the surface expansive, while deep down being hollow.
The audio in this game is even more stunning than the graphics, which says a lot. Orchestral melodies and musical scores all serve to evoke an emotional reaction. There is not one tune that is misplaced or unwelcome. The music intensifies as something is solved or there’s further development in the story. “Powerful” is the best word I can use to describe it. There is no other way it can be explained without having experienced it first-hand and I implore you to give this game a shot if for nothing else than the sound.
It seems the developers may have taken on a headache inducing project. What brought me out of the experience most was the constant drops in frame rates, which was most obvious in the first world you explore. Perhaps it is worse here, or I just got used to the plummeting FPS, but either way it was very distracting, and a shame because the way the game performs doesn’t do the gameplay and story justice.
The first hour of the game can be enough to put anybody off. It’s slow and there’s no real investment at that time, but if you manage to plow through the mundane puzzles featured in the beginning, the novelty of everything that comes after is sure to be captivating. The developer’s use of shadows and object displacement leads to very satisfying puzzle solving. The game is very easy on the other hand. I may have been stumped a couple times, but in my experience, figuring things out only takes a couple minutes for the more difficult puzzles. There are some climbing mechanics used here as well, reminiscent of games developed by Team Ico, which I am sure is where RiME draws most of its inspiration from. The climbing sequences are fun, but never take much thought in completing, as the path is almost always clear.
The controls predominantly work well. It is only in these climbing mechanics that the controls become a nightmare. Which way should I direct the stick when transitioning from one side of a block to another? I would constantly try everything to direct the protagonist toward where I had to go, only to find that I moved back in the direction I came from. It is the controls that make climbing a little annoying at times. As you progress further into the late stages of the game, climbing becomes more and more prevalent, leading to frustration with a game that is for the most part enjoyable.
I am hesitant to proclaim a video game to be art, however if there is any title worthy of that name it is RiME. It’s a game you really need to play through in its entirety to appreciate. While no game is without flaws, RiME’s shortcomings are easily looked past. I highly recommend this game.
Replay Value: 1/5
Total: 19/25, or 76/100