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Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Grey Box
Developer: Tequila Works
Release Date: May 26, 2017


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PS4 Review - 'Rime'

by Cody Medellin on July 13, 2017 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

RiME is an open-world, third-person view, adventure and puzzle game.

Buy Rime

The narrative puzzle platformer has gotten some traction in the last few years. While not as populous as the narrative walking simulator, a few titles have avoided conflict altogether and chosen to focus on crafting good puzzles and a stronger story, similar to thatgamecompany's Journey. Rime, the new game from Tequila Works, is another game that's seemingly inspired by that big indie hit, and while it doesn't reach the lofty goal of being better, it's still a good endeavor.

One thing you'll immediately notice about the narrative is that things are kept extremely vague. You start as a nameless boy who has just washed up on the shore of a picturesque land. There's no expressed purpose for what you need to do or why you washed ashore in the first place, so exploration is the only way you'll find any answers. You'll eventually free a fox that guides where you need to go next, and your journeys lead to murals that give you a vague idea of what happened in the past. Beyond that, your only narrative devices are a mysterious red cloaked figure that's always watching you and the various spirits clad in back that seem to antagonize you but disappear once you approach them.

The story only really picks up by the end with a slew of scenes that help push the narrative to a conclusion. It goes for story beats that are similar to other games. It is sort of nice that you'll have to piece together the story while playing, and the conclusion makes you analyze those things again. The overall lack of focus on story in the beginning can turn off some people when the end suddenly hits.

The real focus is on puzzles, and a good amount of different types are seen near the beginning. You have quite a few puzzles where you need to move orbs of light to pedestals to unlock doors or manipulate platforms. As expected, the amount of switches and light orbs won't match, so careful planning of each placement is paramount. Some puzzles ask you to unlock doors or create keys via putting some of their pieces together and then using a kiosk to merge them into one cohesive shape. Other puzzles ask you to play with light and shadow to match pieces. There's even a few where you'll coax boars into crashing through brambles for you, as long as you give them large orange fruit in return.

Perhaps the most interesting puzzles come from you actually shouting. For some unexplained reason, the boy's shouts act as conduits for all sorts of actions. Shout near a vase, and it'll light up before breaking. Shout near some lit statues, and their spirits will come out and glide to open doors and move platforms. Other statues light up if you shout near them, and torches have the same reaction to your noises; some puzzles even have you manipulating amplifiers to increase the strength of that effect. It works, and it's a novel approach to something mundane.

The only disappointment with the puzzles is that their type doesn't change throughout the game. You'll get many different configurations of what you saw in the first stage, but there's nothing new in terms of mechanics. The puzzles don't ever get boring, but you will have to temper any expectations if you wanted to see completely new puzzle offerings as you progress.

Though puzzles are the focus, exploration also plays a big role in the design of Rime. The game only contains five stages, but all except one provide a sizeable amount of space to play in. There are only a few places where your movement is restricted, and those are easily outlined by cliffs, rocks and jellyfish in the water. For the most part, you're able to climb and drop from just about any surface, and the game rewards you by granting several different collectibles, such as stone pieces, toys or even lullabies.

The game provides natural guidance for the player instead of something more pronounced. The fox barks so you'll know where you need to go next, but there are no other indicators regarding direction. There's no mini-map, on-screen indicator, or text prompt to tell you anything. Instead, the game relies on level design to naturally guide you to the right path. The white painted edges indicate climbing, and a beacon in the sky highlights a key item. There are enough natural signs to tell you that something is important, so finding the spots feels like an accomplishment instead of something you were merely told to do. That sense of achievement is missing in some games nowadays, so it's nice to see the return of this sort of game design.

For the most part, Rime looks gorgeous. The environmental colors and objects have an inherent softness to them, but they still come off as striking. Character designs are memorable, such as the skull-faced bird that appears as one of the few antagonists, and the animations are thoughtful. Running looks nice, but the change in posture and cadence show off the details that most titles miss. Other things, like the animals going about their day and the grass swaying from the wind, also give the game some life in lieu of actual enemies or other people. The only complaint is about the frame rate. It comes uncapped, which seems fine since this kind of game isn't dependent on high frame rates, but the game has the tendency to hitch as you're moving from one part of the world to another. It ruins the mystique of the title, as this happens quite often.

Whereas the visuals have a few issues here and there, the sound is absolutely flawless. The score is the real highlight, as it's brooding and adventurous without necessarily favoring one. It's a wonderful score even without the game serving as a backdrop, and if you're into musical scores, you may have to seek out this one. In a strange way, the game also benefits from the lack of voice acting, as it lets the action and atmosphere do a better job of narrating the journey for you.

In the end, Rime is a solid adventure game that is an absolute stunner in the presentation department. The puzzles may not be that difficult, and they start to repeat in the latter half of the game, but they remain enjoyable. The game also has a very good length, so the journey is enjoyable as long as you don't mind the sudden flurry of exposition at the end. Itmay not have the kind of grand mystery that keeps players coming back, but Rime is certainly a game that's worth playing at least once.

Score: 8.0/10

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