Few and far between do releases such as RiME hit home with such power that you are lost for words and open jawed throughout the entire experience. Going off the pre-release footage and promotion, I fully expected to enjoy RiME, but what I didn’t expect was to hold it in such high regard that I can comfortably compare it to the likes of Ico. With that being said I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this game will be used as a comparison for future like-minded adventures, because if anything, RiME deserves a spot amongst the greatest of its kind. It deserves to be placed on a pedestal and used as an example as to exactly how you make a deep meaningful journey that’s full of wonder, beauty, and intrigue.
The game casts you into the role of Enu, a young child that finds himself alone on a vast island, and as far as the player is concerned you have no idea how you got here, or who you are. It’s clear from the start that Tequila have set the tone of the game magnificently, with gorgeous visuals and soothing memorable soundtracks joining in lush unity. The design of the game is outstanding, with colours of the clear blue ocean, the white sands, the grey stone ruins, and everything in-between bouncing off each other wonderfully. As far as first impressions go, RiME is as welcoming as a winning lottery ticket, and then some.
I can only compare the graphics in this game to those found in Breath of the Wild, and although the acclaimed Zelda game is in a league of its own, RiME’s visuals are massively impressive nevertheless. The game wastes no time throwing you into the adventure with every expectancy that you’ll have both eyes wide open. You have very little to go on, and even less to chase after during the initial phases of play. It’s important to note that RiME doesn’t come with a story that you will be resting on from start to finish, and that’s because this game is all about the journey and less so much about the story threads.
That’s not to say that RiME comes with absent meaning, far from it, in fact I was hit in the feels pretty hard when I reached the end-game, and take my word for it, that’s something that takes a lot to withdraw from me. It’s an overwhelming experience that had me captivated on so many levels, I just didn’t want to put the game down. Several excellently crafted aspects in this game had every ounce of my attention, I was just constantly drawn to it from all angles. I don’t want to spoil any of the story, but what I will say is that before long you’ll be acquainted with a companion fox, and greeted by the presence of a mysterious red-cloaked figure who always seems to be that little bit out of reach.
So what is RiME? Although it’s served as an adventure game, there’s a large emphasis on puzzle solving and exploration. This is something you will witness from the get-go, because RiME hardly ever tells you where to go or what to do. You’ll come across the occasional button prompt, as well as your aforementioned companion guide, but for the most part you’re on your own with nothing but intuition and instinct to rely on. That, and the clever level design that gives you just enough direction to follow without having your hand held. RiME gives you a clear understanding as to what you can and cant do, such as interaction. Objects that you can engage with typically stand out with enough detail to give you a light heads-up, but not so much so that everything stands out too obviously.
No, RiME isn’t the same as that bland and uninteresting Submerged game that released last year. This is far more in-depth, symbolic, and well paced. Gameplay revolves around making your way across the island whilst solving each and every puzzle that stands in your way. One thing that many adventure games fall victim of is overly complex brain twisters, but RiME’s puzzles manage to find the fine balance between simplistic and complicated. The puzzles are never too intrusive or dished out too much, they’re both well spaced out and well thought out. That’s not to say that you wont hit that block, if you’re like me you’ll more than likely stumble a few times as you try to work out what goes where, but you’re never stuck to the point of frustration or boredom.
You’ll solve puzzles in a large variety of ways. Some will need solving via the classic formula of moving blocks into position, some doors will be locked until you manoeuvre structures in the correct order to cast a shadow on the door outline, some will even require that you hunt down mini-puzzles (such as statues) and magically shout at them to produce an entity that floats back to the main puzzle, and so on and so forth. The functionality found in each and every puzzle is just wonderful, well set, and much like the rest of the game, totally captivating.
My only concern with the game is the performance. There’s several sections of the game that the frame-rate dips ever so slightly. It’s nowhere near enough to pull the game down from being the masterpiece that it is, but it’s something you are bound to notice throughout play. I do want to point out that the stuttering is only minor, and you would miss it if you blinked at the right time. With that said I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it here, but with how much effort has gone into the adventure at hand, I have no doubt whatsoever that the developers will have this fixed in no time.
When you’re not following the path of the campaign, there is heaps of collectables to seek out and obtain. These range from lullabies (which are stunning), to toys, and more. It helps to promote even more exploration, which thanks to how amazing the game looks, is hardly something you need aid with. It helps of course that all of this is tied together with some tight controls that respond perfectly to your every command. There are no weapons in this game, but there are indeed dangers that make themselves apparent at certain points of play, which again, is something that you need to use your initiative to work through. I dare say there’s fifteen – twenty hours worth of gameplay to be had depending on your pace, and when you look at the price tag, that’s a worthy exchange.
If there was ever a game that delivered so much without saying much, it’s RiME. Beautiful in both execution and presentation, this is an adventure that will stick with you long after completion. The ending is one that you just wont see coming, and the slow and silent build up to that is a task that’s worth every moment of the journey. The amazing soundtrack and the gorgeous visuals work in unity to produce a breathtaking experience that never gets boring, and only ever withdraws from your emotions. The clever puzzles and many collectables will ensure that you seek out as much of the island as possible, stretching the gameplay even further without risking the outstay of its welcome. Sadly there are some frame-rate issues within, but these are easy to overlook in the midst of something so captivating. RiME has effortlessly made its mark in gaming.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.