RiME: An Emotional Experience Well Worth The Wait | A Short Pause Review
After a very rocky development history that stretches back to 2013, Spanish developer Tequila Works has finally released their seminal title, Rime, to the masses. I personally was a bit concerned about this game due to the seemingly precarious nature of its production, but it was all worth it. Rime has come out on the other end of its troubled development cycle as a beautiful and surreal adventure with an interesting story and engaging gameplay.
Tale of the Tape
Release Date: May 26th, 2017
Developer: Tequila Works
Platforms: PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC, Switch
In Rime, you play as a young boy who wakes up on the shore of a mysterious island. As you make your way further inland, you'll explore and solve puzzles to uncover the secrets of this strange place as you learn more about how you came to be here. The narrative is presented without any spoken dialogue, and it’s revealed in pieces through exploration and flashbacks that are triggered at specific points throughout the adventure. I won't go into detail regarding the story, except to say that it culminates in a memorable and emotional ending. Rime's visual aesthetic has been compared to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker due to its bright and colorful presentation, but at times it can also be somber and bleak, depending on what's happening in the narrative. For example, a later portion of the game takes place on a part of the island with dark clouds overhead and rain pouring down, as the boy shivers from both cold and fear. This scene is depicted with more muted tones, painting a much more dismal picture than the bright colorful island where the game begins. The beautiful and evocative soundtrack composed by David Garcia Diaz provides the undertones for the entire experience, featuring a full orchestral sound that rivals any other video game score.
The gameplay experience of Rime catches inspiration from classic titles like Journey, Ico, and Shadow of the Colossus — in the sense that you are exploring a bizarre world, climbing, finding secrets, and solving puzzles. Your guide on this quest is a little magical fox who appears and vanishes at will, giving you an idea as to where to go next. Although there are some open areas that allow for exploration and discovery, the game progression in Rime is fairly linear, with visual cues like the fox or beams of light to guide you along. I'm not saying that's a bad thing; not every game needs to feature a fully open world. There's still room in the gaming space for a curated narrative experience, and Rime does a nice job in that area without holding your hand too much. The puzzles themselves are very well-designed and consist of actions like sliding blocks around, placing orbs on pedestals, or manipulating light sources to cast shadows on a specific spot. I enjoyed the challenge that the game presented in each area, and the solutions never felt too obtuse.
My only complaint in regards to Rime is with its frame rate. I played the game on the original PS4 and noticed a performance drop at random intervals throughout the experience. Although each frame rate dip was very noticeable, it never adversely affected gameplay. Although I'm sure I would have been much more immersed in the game if it had performed better, I still really enjoyed it overall.
If you're looking for a unique, surreal adventure with puzzle-solving and emotional storytelling, then Rime is a game that I can heartily recommend. Although there are some very noticeable frame rate issues, I still found myself immersed in the story being told and engaged by the puzzles. Rime takes cues from some of my favorite titles of recent years, and it also features some very clear influence from the films of Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle). If that's not enough to convince you, then I don't know what will.
We reviewed RiME on PlayStation 4 using a retail code that was kindly provided to us by the fine folks at Sandbox Strategies.
- Beautiful art and music
- Cool puzzles
- Emotional story
- Frame rate issues