RiME Xbox One Review
Provides an experience with a memorable ending
No HUD and let’s the player figure things out
Frame rate stutters occasionally and long initial load times
Level design could be a tighter in some spots
On its surface, RiME is an environmental puzzle platformer that puts players into the shoes of a shipwrecked youth with no memory of what happened. Although this set up is a video game cliché, RiME separates itself through its presentation, an emotional story, and an unforgettable ending.
There is no HUD, spoken language, or even subtitles in RiME. Combine this with the absence of a formal tutorial and the player is free to explore and learn just as much as the stranded child you control. Saying RiME is an open world title is not exactly true as the game leads the player down a set path often with points of no return. Most aspects involve solving a puzzle or performing a task by literally yelling aloud contextually – there is literally a shouting action mapped to a button on the controller. Having the playable character shouting is definitely a unique gameplay element that makes this emotional quest unique. Eventually the player will even collaborate with friendly AI stone robots and vanish ghouls by shouting at an orb made from light. In terms of this game: weird, yes – out of place, no.
From the visuals to the orchestral soundtrack, RiME’s presentation is a whimsical art canvas layered with personality, color, and life. During the half dozen hours it took to complete, I could not help but be reminded of Ico with the water colored presentation of The Legend of Zelda – Skyward Sword. For the most part, the opening segments take place on a sunny beach in which the player can see miles into the distance but the closing acts become dark, rainy, and claustrophobic. Sure, the playable boy is the main character but the environment plays just as big a role since there are no enemies to kill, swords to swing, or levels to increase. You just play as a boy trying to make sense of this world. The presentation, environment, and plot always stay as the focus.
A few negative aspects hold back the great experience from being something truly amazing, however. Ridiculously long load times are boringly frustrating and so are frame rate drops and frame skips when rotating the camera. While I never was stuck on any one puzzle for too long, I do feel like the game would have benefited from a waypoint indicator or some tighter level designs. Some stages are much bigger than others which means there is forced wandering and backtracking. The underwater section was particularly painful because the player cannot see into the distance; you just have to swim long enough until you figure out where to go. Another section has the player dipping in and out of cover to avoid a killer bird. This bird acts like Resident Evil 3’s Nemesis and is different but frustrating. The game rewards the player for exploring every nook and cranny for optional collectables but this just is not possible when there is a bird stalking you ever step of the way. Luckily, the player instantly respawns without having to reload that super long initial loading screen if you do manage to “die.”
While I do not want to spoil anything here in the review, rest assured that the ending is one of the most emotionally charged video game endings that I have ever seen and wraps everything up nicely. Honestly, do NOT watch a let’s play or stream of RiME. You will ruin the experience for yourself as if someone told you what happens in that Game of Thrones episode before you have seen it. And it will take a ton of patience, but collecting all the optional collectables will also increase the satisfaction of the ending. Remember, there is no HUD or any spoken dialog in RiME. Which is why the plot, environment, and what is NOT said is so important to this whimsical journey. But to have such an emotional and powerful ending without the use of dialog is something truly special.
Although RiME has a few stumbles, there is no question this is a special experience. And that is what RiME is – an experience more so than a game. It foregoes typical gameplay techniques and replaces them with experiences, memorable moments, and an ending that will pull your heartstrings to the brink of tears.
Reminds Me Of: Ico
Also Try: The Last Guardian
Wait For It: Journey 2