Development Hell is something most companies hate to go through.  Budgets can be lost or reduced.  Work can be sped up which affects the quality. Project deals can fall through sometimes and other problematic and troublesome situations pop up.  For developer Tequila Works, their latest title Rime, had their own share of development hell.  Being pass by Microsoft, Sony picked it up until Tequila Works got the rights back from Sony.  With its released, Rime got so much right but may leave the player unfulfilled.

For the purpose of this review, I’ll be placing my own given names for the characters in the game due to the fact that everything is nameless.  You play as Peter, the main character shown in the trailers, who wakes up on an island without no idea of how he ended up there.  Throughout the journey, you’ll meet some key characters. Foxford (or with a little help from a friend, Micheal J.), is a small fox who’ll help guide you to the next area or quest.  Hesiod, a walking energy piece, joins you at a later time to help with some puzzles. There’s also the mysterious Phazers, who wander around and can drain from you.  You’ll also see at times an unknown figure from time to time.

The game is an adventure puzzle that has Peter testing his wits to progress.  Rime doesn’t have much combat in the game.  You have to use your mind to solve the challenging and at points, complex puzzles.  You’ll be rewarded with a key or progress. That’s it.  The murals in some areas will give you hints but everything else must be worked out by you.  Some trial and error moments will occur but the game knows that a puzzle, without much pieces, can easily be done in a matter of minutes.

It does a good job with this mechanic.  It doesn’t keep you stuck and thinking with its puzzles.  Peter will pull, match perspectives, use his voice, or use timed jumps and button pushes to get to the areas that will lead him closer to the truth.  Even when you start moving from waking up on the island, you’re given a puzzle with no direction. You’ll have to figure and explore what you’re allowed to do.

As for the narrative, that is where it becomes hit or miss.  The land has murals and statues placed around.  If you pay no attention to it and don’t keep it in your memory, the journey won’t make sense.  There aren’t no overblown cutscenes or voice-overs.  If you want the game to explain everything, you’ll won’t grasp the imagery and the intent of what Rime wants to portray to you.  Peter’s experience and your own depends on the secrets you find and the comprehension that you have to gain to understand why this tale even started.

The biggest portion that will be appreciated and is held as high as The Last Guardian, Breath Of The Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn and other games of this nature in this generation, will be the impeccable and captivating score of Rime.  Composed by David Garcia Diaz with a song by Lindsey Sterling, Rime’s soundtrack compliments everything this game has to offer.  There are actual moments that you will have to put the controller or mouse down, and with all attention, listen to the pieces that are playing.  Just as delightful as The Legend Of Zelda: Symphony Of The Goddess concerts, the pure piano arrangements David place into this game makes the visuals and emotions of Peter speak loudly.

With a game that’s 5 to 6 hours (more if you collect everything), the payoff will be debatable.  Foxford at times is hard to locate and his barking doesn’t help guide you when you need him to be in sight.  Hesiod doesn’t do more than what he could do if the creators gave him more purpose.  The Phazers don’t invoke fear when it could.  Even a boss fight, that I won’t mention, doesn’t offer enough to break the difficulty of the game. If given some more time, they could’ve added some more elements to provide a greater experience.

The graphics, last of all, are wonderful to look at and fluid.  The color palette pops and the use of shadows and light, and Peter’s red cape look gorgeous in motion.  There is an area where it’s raining heavily and the attention to it was executed brilliantly.  The water effects in the rain make the ground look consistently wet. It may seem small but you have to admire how breathtaking a small portion of that can be done with the art style Tequila Works produce.  It’s fascinating all around.

Not many problems with the camera or controls so you can play the game without worrying about wrestling with both of them. Some button prompts may not show up and the Sonic underwater bubble grabbing can get annoying but I find it, unplanned, an homage to that mechanic in those games.  Finding keys or being rewarded with them, aren’t too difficult to acquire and kind of forgotten through the journey.

Overall, as fantastic as Rime is in some parts, the game doesn’t offer much in its replayability.  No side stories or side adventures to give the characters more depth or background.  The puzzles are quite been there, done that, which feels less creative and doesn’t do nothing but provide progress (and that may be because there isn’t no combat).  Rime does something though, other indie games and walking simulators have done in a while. Providing a deep meaning through visual storytelling and a score to compliment it to showcase the meaningful themes that lead to an ending you will want to discuss.  With a superb soundtrack, an astounding art presentation, and an adventure you will be taken through, Rime will make you look forward to more of Tequila Works, well, works.

4 out of 5 Yoshi Coins

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