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Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, WiiU, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Developer: Two Tribes
Release Date: Sept. 13, 2016

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


PC Preview - 'Rive'

by Brian Dumlao on April 23, 2015 @ 12:01 a.m. PDT

Rive is a metal-wrecking, robot-hacking 2D shooter/platformer with old-school gaming values with a new-school execution.

Like it was generations ago, the shooter and platformer genres are becoming rather crowded. Thanks to the influx of indie developers and the reluctance of big publishers to support either genre, we're now seeing all sorts of games in genres that were once thought to be extinct. As a result, it's becoming more difficult for these games to stand out, and as a developer, it's more critical than ever to distinguish your title from the pack. Developer Two Tribes of Toki Tori fame knows this, and its latest game, Rive, shows what it intends to do to make the title different.

The short preview level starts with you flying through an asteroid field. With the play space getting crowded rather quickly, you're immediately tasked with blowing up the space rocks to make things more maneuverable. The game acts like a side-scrolling, twin-stick shooter, but you'll still need to pull the trigger to fire instead of just aiming with the right stick. Soon, you'll run into missile silos and impenetrable laser fields before you get into the abandoned ship, which is what you were searching for.

Getting in the ship transforms Rive from a shooter to a platformer because you immediately lose your ability to fly. You still have the ability to shoot in all directions, and you can perform a double-jump, so you can still access hard-to-reach areas. One new skill you'll learn is hacking switches and some robots. For example, you can get medical bots to follow you and heal your ship, while you can get kamikaze bots to life you up with their gravitational fields. You'll also get to pick up some extra weapons, such as homing missiles and EMP bombs, both of which end up being useful in the demo's boss fight.

What stands out in the gameplay is how every situation complements each other. Shooting is frantic in both the interior and exterior of the ship. Enemies tend to come out in large groups that move very fast, overwhelming you with both speed and numbers. Though these sections happen often, there are segments of light platforming in between to give you a break in the action. The lone boss fight is also paced well, as it goes for the obvious pattern-based attacks instead of brute force bullet hell, something it could've easily been done. The short snippet of gameplay makes it rather difficult to formulate a more solid impression of how the title can go, but the short level feels rather good, even after playing it multiple times.

Even this early on, the presentation of Rive is great. The models and particle effects are great, and the frame rate is smooth. What really stands out in the graphics is the use of blur to signify depth. It gets used quite often and brings out some real depth to each stage, no matter how dark or light it is. The sound is also great, especially the music, which moves from bouncy and exciting to foreboding rather seamlessly while the effects are near-perfect. The brief bits of dialogue have no voices attached, though we're not sure if they're meant to have them in the final product.

If the purpose of the preview build was to build up the hype for Rive, then the mission was accomplished. The mix between platforming and shooting is done well and feel fantastic. The level design feels good, and the pacing between shooting and platforming is balanced nicely. With a presentation that's top-notch, the waiting will be tough. Look for this one on all home gaming platforms sometime in 2015.

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