When a game uses a surreal landscape to base its whole premise, it has a clean canvas on which to work. The developers have free rein to do what they want, and their only limitations are their imaginations. RiME uses this dreamlike state at its core, creating a world that’s mystical, beautiful and devoid of any logic. It is a disconcerting place if you desire structure and meaning, but it’s wonderful if you are happy to go with the flow.
Developed by Tequila Works and published by Grey Box, this is a puzzle-platform adventure game that will leave you scratching your head. Set in a magical world, you are free to explore as you wish. Little guidance aids you on your journey, and you can play as quickly or a slowly as you like. It’s a title that lacks monsters or any real danger, and its confusing ways will be a turnoff for anyone who doesn’t like a “flowery” experience.
RiME is eye opening, but it lacks urgency or direction.
I’m not a gamer who needs his hands held while playing. I don’t mind searching around for clues and backtracking to find missing items. But even I found that my patience was tested while reviewing RiME. This surreal title expects you to go from point A to Z with zero help. There is no text to guide you, cinematics reveals no clues, and puzzles are stumbled upon as you aimlessly wander around.
The lack of direction wouldn’t be so bad if you knew why you were taking a journey. No information tells you about your character or the limited constants you encounter. I struggled to connect with any moment of the game, even though the audio and the world around me were begging for me to fall for their charms.
I spent much of my time inwardly focussed, trying to fathom out where to go. And I never took the time to enjoy my surroundings. This was truly a shame, as when you look up and take a moment, you get to see a wonderfully abstract environment that supports the weirdness of the theme.
One island, four environments, a fox, and a mysterious hooded figure.
Sure, waking up on a random island with no idea what’s happening would be a little disorientating. How about adding in four different environments, a magical fox, and a mysterious hooded figure in red! These are but some ingredients that help to muddy the water further in RiME. The fox and the person in red are key components in this tale, but yet you have no connection with them throughout.
There is no sense of sorrow, love, or desire to catch them. It was odd to play a game that lacked an emotional element, especially when its audio oozed such charm. The developers grabbed their surreal world and ran with a lack of focus or rules. It was bizarre that no constraints were placed upon you, and I think the developers went too far with their dreamlike approach.
Simple puzzles, and a lack of dialogue.
Much of the gameplay revolves around simple puzzles that offer little to no challenge. Shapes must be placed in such a way to form a structure, pressure plates need to be used correctly, or light manipulated to find a solution. None of it was revolutionary, and little will pique your interest. Even with the low difficulty level, sometimes I was stuck. I didn’t know if I had missed something, was in the wrong place, or I had not found the correct solution. And you guessed it, RiME never told me either way. Usually, the solution was staring you in the face, or hidden in the environment waiting to be discovered. These moments will test your resolve, but not your logical thinking.
A lack of dialogue is a key factor that you must overcome if you are taking this on. The protagonist instead prefers to communicate with singing and other sounds. Using this method of communication you will activate switches, stoke flames, and reveal hidden pathways. The joys of living in a dream world, I guess. This unique mechanic created some interesting challenges, and though it was odd to get used to, it worked well with this type of game.
RiME looks and sounds great.
I wish the rest of RiME was as well designed as its graphics and sound. Tequila Works created a beautiful land to explore; a tropical island, scorched desert, a dilapidated city and a foreboding abyss, its variety was truly breathtaking. The horrendous journey from the sunny archipelago to the miserable cesspit was wonderful. A mixture of colour and tone helped to make each stand out from the other, and the third-person perspective allowed you to make the most of the surrounding scenery.
The music was a thing of beauty. Flipping from soft and calm airy sounds to aggressive overbearing tunes that made you feel oppressed and concerned. The audio traversed an array of emotions, and though you did not know where the game was going, you had an enjoyable soundtrack to lose yourself in.
The game required finesse, and this wasn’t always granted.
Many of the puzzles involved manipulation. Whether you were playing with shadows, moving a camera to form a shape, or using pressure plates, finesse was required. Sadly, it was painfully clumsy and the lack of accuracy was frustrating. Other than this issue, you won’t struggle to learn how to play RiME. No combat, as much time as you need, and the freedom to explore as you like, make this easy to play.
Like most adventure games, this one has plenty of collectables to search for and gather. Hidden in the most obscure locations, it’ll take patience and a pig-headed attitude to grab them all. Completionists have a challenging achievement list to unlock, and though the base game is short, the extras add some much-needed longevity.
RiME doesn’t live up to its peers.
There are some great titles in this genre, and RiME has attempted something unusual to make itself stand out. Sadly, it misses the mark on many points and it doesn’t quite reach the quality of its peers. I believe there are better puzzle-platform adventure games, so I don’t recommend this one. If you want to try it, buy it here! A surreal world and abstract concept cause confusion and a lack of emotional connection. Unfortunately, it went one step too far with its weirdness.