Game Review: Rime

Alan Stock Alan Stock
Expert Contributor
June 5th, 2017

I'm a lover of travel, photography and video games, from the UK. I have worked in the games industry and very passionate about games and their design. Never get bored of them!

Review of: Rime
Price:
Decent

Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On June 5, 2017
Last modified:June 5, 2017

Summary:

A beautiful and relaxing experience that’s marred by fairly simplistic, shallow gameplay and pacing issues.

Review of: Rime
Price:
Decent

Reviewed by:
Rating:

3
On June 5, 2017
Last modified:June 5, 2017

Summary:

A beautiful and relaxing experience that’s marred by fairly simplistic, shallow gameplay and pacing issues.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

Adventure game Rime is out now on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Alan Stock brings you this review for ComiConverse (PS4 version played).  

Game Review: Rime

Rime will bring back memories from any seasoned gamer. A boy wakes after a storm at sea on the beach of a sunswept, deserted island of towering mystical ruins. You’ll guide him through this vibrant world, platforming and solving puzzles, to a stirring orchestral score. The story and world are mysterious - much is left to your own imagination and interpretation. Anyone who’s played Ico, Journey, The Witness or Zelda will immediately see the many inspirations and homages to those games here. But can Rime - struggling at first impressions to forge its own identity - make it’s own mark on the lone wanderer adventure niche?

Rime hero runs on beach

Credit: Grey Box

The game’s presentation is captivating. The visuals are crisp and vibrant, with the art style calling to mind Zelda: Breath of the Wild and The Witness. Beautiful ambient lighting effects help to enhance the lovely design of the world’s large environments. The audio’s also superb, the realistic sound effects adding immersion. But best of all is the wonderful orchestral music, a dynamic and varied soundtrack which sets the tone perfectly. Rime’s atmosphere, then, is gorgeous. In some areas, the two presentation strengths combine - like the memorable dark cavern where shouting with your hero makes nearby runes glow on the floor, lighting you a path through a pit.

The first area in Rime somewhat misleads about what you can expect from the rest of the game. It’s an open, green and luscious island scattered with white ruins and ancient magical machinery which allow for puzzle solving. You’ll find wild pigs snuffling in the grass, seagulls circling the cliffs, crabs scuttling on the shore and shoals of fish in the sea. The ambient sound effects and sweeping soundtrack help with the isolated adventure vibe. Here you track down old monuments, guided by pillars of light reaching into the sky (sound familiar, Witness fans?). A dynamic day/night cycle changes the skybox to a star-studded expanse as the sun goes down. At sunrise, birdsong fills the air as the monuments cast long shadows. There’s no onscreen display apart from the occasional button prompt, allowing you to be immersed. This area is a joy to explore, combining the puzzle-solving and platforming of Ico with the open approach of The Witness or Zelda.

Rime first island

The island you will explore first. Credit: Grey Box

Although this island takes a few hours to conquer (more, if you search for its secrets), the rest of the game becomes much more linear. Although the environments you’ll discover are ostensibly still large and open, they’re actually more restrictive, with less incentive to explore. So, whilst first impressions of Rime is that the island is going to be a self-contained, free-roaming hub - in fact you’re soon whisked away to new places and adventures, never to return. It’s a shame because it’s in this first area that I found the exploration, platforming and structure to be the strongest.

Rime Puzzle solving effects

Credit: Grey Box

Rime has a lot of nice ideas, but they’re never realised to their full potential. Some of the puzzles have great premises and are satisfying to solve, like the ones involving casting shadows by shifting around objects and lights. There are a few head-scratchers, but nothing that will properly stump you. When I did get stuck it was usually due to poor communication or direction from the game, rather than a conundrum. Unfortunately, the rest of the puzzles are simplistic and unoriginal, with plenty of block pushing, lugging around glowing orbs or easy platforming. The linearity of many of the puzzles doesn’t help - there’s rarely any doubt about how to proceed, as you often only have one option. The game handholds you too, using techniques like pointing the camera exactly where you need to go next after completing one part of a puzzle. For the most part, your brain will barely be taxed. Although many of the puzzle concepts and the environments have lots of opportunity for depth, they rarely move beyond the basic.

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Rime hanging off edge platforming

Credit: Grey Box

Platforming in Rime is forgiving and not very exciting - of the classic ledge-grabbing and shimmying variety. Falling off can force you to repeat sections, which can be annoying, but overall checkpoints are generous. High falls give you an instant reset, so like the rest of the game, you can do it somewhat on autopilot, with little risk involved. Taking cues from other platformers, grabbable ledges are clearly marked, making it easy to see your route. But as there are few alternate routes or dead ends, there’s no challenge or adventure involved when platforming - just follow the white lines to your destination. The sense of thrill and vertigo found in titles like Ico or Uncharted just isn’t present here, and platforming sections tend to be short and easy. The pre-set climbing approach hurts the exploration aspect of the game too. Many of the environments are full of nooks, ledges and objects that look scalable but frustratingly are not - you feel confined by the game’s rules, eager to get off the leash.

Rime swimming with fish

Credit: Grey Box

Navigating the world feels the same. After the starting zone where you feel empowered to explore, the linear nature of later areas don’t provide much avenue or reason to head off the beaten track. Fortunately, you won’t get lost easily, Rime usually does a good job at signposting where you need to go next, even in it’s largest zones. There are secrets to find, the first area puts them in distinct locations that you are eager to explore. But after that I didn’t feel the need to track down more, the secrets being less well-integrated into the level design.

Another reason I didn’t stray from the beaten track much is because your hero runs quite sluggishly through the large environments, even once he gets “up to speed”. It’s a nice idea in theory but annoying in practice. It starts to feel like a real slog just getting around these oversized places - they have a great scale, but getting from A to B feels like a mission. A stuttering framerate in places (on PS4, at least) doesn’t help the experience either.

Rime puzzle solving

Credit: Grey Box

Scouring the wide landscapes for the few secrets the game has to offer quickly loses its appeal when it takes so long to get around. Although the world looks and sounds great, just running or swimming around I didn’t feel particularly engaged. Titles like Journey and Shadow of the Colossus also have plenty of sections with little to no interaction as you run along just admiring the environment, but I didn’t mind in those. Maybe I find it annoying in Rime because I’ve seen these kind of settings before and because the slow movement gets especially annoying when backtracking or exploring a large puzzle zone.

Thankfully exploration isn’t all bad in Rime. It’s the constant forward momentum to new and wonderful sights that was the real driving force for me in the game. I was always curious about what was coming next. Even if exploration within the locations is fairly basic, discovering these pretty environments is a joy and there’s plenty of variety. The story’s another reason to keep you playing. The mysteries of the world and the creatures which you encounter there, along with the occasional flashback cutscene, made me curious enough to want to know more throughout its five hour duration.  

Rime forest ruins

Credit: Grey Box

Rime certainly has a lot of charm. It’s just a pity that the core gameplay doesn’t match up to the excellent atmosphere and world design. Although there are some great ideas in here, much of the game is too familiar, from the gameplay, to the visuals and setting. It feels like Rime wants to emulate the games I’ve mentioned already, but doesn’t quite hit the mark. You can play most of the game on autopilot, although it clearly wants to offer something more. Perhaps if they’d gone down the exploration hub route (as the first area proved was effective), it could have worked better. Or, on the opposite path, making it more streamlined, with a focused narrative experience like Journey and less simple puzzles getting in the way. As it stands, the fairly shallow gameplay, puzzles and the sluggish environment navigation get in the way of the game’s real strengths, it’s world and atmosphere.

Rime robot in the rain

Credit: Grey Box

Rime is a gorgeous, polished experience - but one that’s somewhat lacking in substance and for me felt a little hollow. Still, it has plenty to offer, and if you’re after an immersive, beautiful and relaxing experience, it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s certainly been divisive with reviewers, so maybe it’s best to try it out and see if it’s your cup of tea. Developers Tequila Works have clearly got the talent and imagination to do great things, and with deeper gameplay or a more focused experience next time around, I’m sure they could make a classic.

Rime

  • 3

Decent

A beautiful and relaxing experience that’s marred by fairly simplistic, shallow gameplay and pacing issues.

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