Amongst the veritable smorgasbord of AAA titles that occupy todays modern video game market, it’s refreshing to see that indie developers are still doing their best to compete with the money infused big boys.
One developer who are doing just that are Spain based Tequila Works, who consist of a number of former employees of several other studios, most notably Blizzard Entertainment and Sony Computer entertainment.
Tequila Works are responsible for titles such as Deadlight, The Sexy Brutale and most recently, and the focus of this review, RiME.
RiME is a classic puzzle game in every sense of the word. Right from the games opening sequence it is clear that it is going to offer little to no help in terms of a guiding the player through the games various levels leaving them to discover all the finer details of the game for themselves.
While that may sound like a huge negative it’s quite the opposite. It encourages gamers to explore every inch of the multiple surroundings they find themselves in, whilst occasionally the game will offer up an on screen button prompt but only when the player is completely on top of their objective.
Luckily you can usually find your way but if you get too lost by listening for a friendly bark and looking for a tail wag from the secondary character in the game – a bushy tailed fox creature.
This philosophy of not holding the players hand through the game serves two purposes. Firstly, as previously mentioned this allows the gamer to fully explore the games levels and take in the cel-shaded beauty they’re presented with. The second purpose this lack of guided tour approach serves is that it forces the player to really focus on the game. The reason that’s important is that there’s no audible narrative in RiME, which means you really need to pay attention to the story as it’s told through in game visual hints and imagery.
The puzzle elements of RiME are extremely well done, due to the fact that they serve as more than vehicles to simply advance the story. They unlock new areas, they change the games landscape and they can even protect you from adversaries which is important given RiME’s lack of combat system.
Puzzle activities can range from activating locked doorways with special keys (which you gain from completing previous puzzles) to using the protagonists yell to activate slumbering statues which can further your adventure. When the puzzles can’t be solved using the traditional mechanics you’d expect, it may result in the player having to get creative making the use of the games lighting and sound where necessary.
When not trying to figure out how to resolve a puzzle you will often find yourself having to navigate various environments. Whether it be traversing a sheer rock face or doing your best not to get lost within a darkened labyrinth. Unfortunately, between puzzles there is a lot of simply running from one location to another, and whilst the worlds of RiME are a thing to behold and the musical score is a wonderful one to listen to at times, having those two things being the only factor engaging you can become incredibly tedious. This can cause interest in the game to wane until you reach the next puzzle area.
In terms of its visual presentation, RiME adopts a cel-shaded approach which is almost a perfect partner to compliment the style of game that it is. While the game looks great it’s not impeccable and seems to have some rough edges that could’ve used some pre-release polishing.
RiME is a game that when it boils down to it is likely to divide opinions completely. It’s either going to engage players completely and utterly, or its lack of audible narrative and ability to identify with characters through their back stories coupled with the fact it doesn’t hand all of the mechanics to you on a plate is going to drive players away.
RiMe is available to download digitally from the Xbox Store, priced at £23.99.
This is a puzzle game for the old school gamer who loves to explore everything for themselves and for those who don’t like to be spoon fed anything.