What would you do if you were stranded on a mysterious island, without any recollection of how you got there? Rime follows the curious adventure of a young child marooned on a forgotten, yet mystical, island. How did you arrive there? Does anyone live here? Why is the island in ruins? Can you escape?
Is Rime a memory worth hanging on to, or would it be best to simply let it go? Find out in our review, after the break!
Developed by Tequila Works
Published by Grey Box and Six Foot
Released: 26th May 2017 (PS4/XB/PC) Q3 2017 (Switch)
Reviewed on the PS4 Version
Review copy provided by Indigo Pearl
As soon as you launch Rime, your character is seen waking up on the shore of an unknown island as you are instantly thrown right into the game. Aside from one or two button prompts as a sort of ‘tutorial’ and a pretty subtle guide (more on that later), you are pretty much on your own. This lack of guidance really immerses you into the game.
Not much is known before the moment you awake from your slumber, it is up to you to explore this beautiful new island. Though the game progresses linearly from chapter to chapter, Rime, for the most part, allows you to pretty much explore the discrete environment you are in and to fully take in the landscape before you.
As you begin your journey on the island, you will come across a rather tame fox who ends up becoming your own companion. Her role in the game is to simply guide you subtly through critical points of your story, she may also pop up to give you little hints if you are finding specific puzzles difficult. This is anything but hand-holding, she simply nudges your sight towards the right direction. This makes it so that experienced players can still get a bit of a challenge, but more casual players are still able to enjoy their story.
Speaking of which, Rime relies heavily of completing a range of different environmental based puzzles. These puzzles are intricately designed and fit incredibly well within the environments and are completely seamless. Your story will have you making shadow silhouettes, to placing light orbs on pedestals, and even guiding a huge ‘legbot’ to open new paths. There is one challenge that acts as one huge challenge, where you will have to hide from a giant bird monsters under shelter. Stay out too long and you will come under a tragic demise.
Some of these puzzles can be a right head scratcher, and you’ll be hitting yourself when you uncover some solutions. Luckily, there is rarely a point where you will feel the solution is impossible to reach, and requires no special gameplay techniques which can be tricky to perform, allowing for an approachable challenge.
Regarding approachability, unlike a lot of games on the market, actually playing and controlling the game itself is really simple, there’s no technique to learn. Use the sticks for movement and camera control, X to jump, Circle to roll, Square to interact/pickup, and Triangle to shout/whistle/hum (something you will do a lot to activate switches and whatnot). Pretty much anyone can get started playing.
On an island where your marooned, where you find ancient ruins, monstrous birds, a tall tower, and even giant ‘legbots’, there has to be some sort of story behind it, right? I think that’s probably one of my favourite aspects of Rime, the storytelling. In a world where we are ambushed by lengthy cutscenes and dialogues, Rime’s story is free of dialogue and very few cutscenes, instead taking a very visual approach. It makes for a much more immersive experience as the only transitions is pretty much loading between chapters. It also adds more to the eeriness and isolation from playing your story.
Even with the lack of speech, there is still so much emotion in the story, and it can be easy to really feel for your character. There are also a few strong themes present in the narrative, but in fear of spoiling the story I will remain mute on further details… though I will say this, it has been a while since I have cried playing a game. The imageI originally attached below showed a brilliant example, but I was too afraid it would reveal too much about the ending, something that I hope you get to experience yourself when playing.
My one issue with the story is the pacing. The chapters vary in length quite a bit. Both the first and third chapters felt like the perfect length for me, but the second chapter felt a bit strung out to the point of being tedious, and the fourth chapter ended way too quickly, though the ending… well, spoilers. It’s a bit disappointing that the story doesn’t last a very long time, it took me roughly five to seven hours to complete, but at the same time, it just about feels right, maybe just one more chapter would’ve made it perfect. Thankfully, there are quite a few optional items to collect and unlock, such as keyholes and outfits. As most of these are very well hidden throughout the repayable chapters, this should ad an extra few hours to your play time.
The soundtrack is stunning and it plays at the right time at the right place. Though it may not be AS grand, I do hear a few familiarities with movies like Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke, which if you haven’t seen you should do. For example, when you complete one of the more significant puzzles, or when you reach a point that drives the narrative forwards, there’s this emotional piece of music that conveys that satisfaction of completing the puzzle, or it rips you right into the story. I always say that music plays a vital role in games, and Rime did a pretty bang up job!
Though the visuals aren’t super realistic, they still look absolutely stunning and fit the game perfectly. As we likely know, thanks to games like Wind Waker, the cel shaded art style can look absolutely amazing when done well. I especially love the textures of the surfaces when it is raining in the final chapter. One issue I did have, though small, is when you are in dark caves and such. In certain areas like that, it is almost impossible to see where you are going, all you can see is your bright, red cape.
One other minor issue I encountered were the odd frame rate stutters. Though it wasn’t nearly enough to ruin my gameplay, it did slightly remove myself from my immersion (probably for good, as I really need to revise). Luckily these aren’t very frequent, and hopefully they may be able to patch out in a future update.
Rime is an absolutely beautiful game, both aesthetically and through it’s storytelling. It’s clear that this is most likely a game close to the hearts’ of the developers, which is supported by their messages during the credits roll. The game’s puzzles remain challenging, while still being approachable to the less experienced, and the atmosphere, music, and player immersion is really on point. Despite the slightly short story, few frame rate dips, and slight lighting issues, Rime remains a game that is a pleasure to play, and should hopefully make an impact on the gamers that pick it up.
If you are looking for a game that is more action driven, then this game may not be for you. If you are wanting a short story driven game, then we would definitely recommend Rime!
Final Rating – 4 out of 5
Rime is out now for PS4, XBOX ONE, and PC, and will be coming out on the Nintendo Switch later in 2017. The version we reviewed was on the PS4.
We are very much looking forward to the Switch version of Rime, and I will update this review accordingly closer to release. If you wish to discus any deeper into Rime, feel free to join or create some discussions about it over on the forums. I’m particularly interested in hearing how other people have interpreted the story after the ending.