Games without combat that actually keep players engaged are a rare breed. RiME has you control a mysterious young lad who goes on an adventure full of oddities and beautiful landscapes so let's see if his journey is one worth experiencing.
At the start of RiME, you play as a young boy with a red cape who has been washed up on an island. Although the beach and surrounding hills and landmarks looks quite large, you'll have a natural inkling of where to go. This theme continues throughout the adventure as it intuitively points you to your next goal without explicitly telling you what to do. When a game can accomplish this, it's something special and makes for a much more immersive journey.
You'll explore a few different locations as the mysterious boy including a beach, ruins, underwater caverns and dark labyrinths. The ambience of RiME slowly progresses from what appears to be a frivolous walk with foxes and boars to interacting with giant ancient walking machines and traversing an almost completely pitch black vertical landscape. It's not made obvious until the very end but the journey you're on is actually a metaphor of someone's loss and how they're coping with it. When the story approaches the phase of depression, the environment almost transforms into an atmospheric horror game for a short while with creepy hooded characters roaming the halls. This is quite a contrast to the vibrant first chapter.
There is no combat in RiME and the gameplay consists of traversing the landscape while finding objects to unlock doors and open up the next area. The climbing interaction is handled so well that it can be closely compared to modern action adventure games such as Uncharted and Tomb Raider. Even white lines on ledges that can be climbed help to guide the way.
When you're not climbing, you'll be solving large puzzles. Most of the puzzles are centered around light, having the character cast shadows on specific things in order to unlock the mystery. Some even require you to be a piece of it, creating a shadow where no pieces of the scenery can do so. Overall, the difficulty ranges from simple tasks to ones with just the right amount of challenge. I was never stuck without any idea of what to do next but it sometimes took a while to piece things together and continue exploring for a solution. Having said this, RiME still lacks in puzzle quantity as it has you climbing and adventuring more than actually using your noggin.
Visually, RiME is quite a stunning game. The graphics have their own unique style, bringing a wide array of colour palettes into the mix depending on the area that you're exploring. There isn't a huge amount of intricacy in its design as it looks closer to a watercolour than a realistic landscape. The large mechanical eyeballs on two legs are quite an interesting being to watch and RiME manages to show a relationship form between these machines and the young boy without any spoken word. When one machine must sacrifice itself to open a doorway for the young lad, he even tries to stop them. Also, the creepy black-caped figures that are found throughout two of the chapters start out seeming harmless as they back away when you approach. However, they soon become dangerous when they start to pull you in and you watch the boy's skin change to grey as they do so. Near the end of the journey, they are more neutral in their behaviour and simply turn and watch as the boy runs by.
For a game with no dialog, it's really quite impressive how much is said without a word. The orchestral soundtrack also does an amazing job at keeping pace with where the boy is on his journey and the current events that unfold.
RiME comes in just under the ten hour mark if you don't spend a ton of time looking for optional collectibles. For an adventure game that's so involving, I definitely felt satisfied by the end of it. There are different types of collectibles dotted around for you to collect and look at in the menus which will add hours to your time with the game. However, simply looking for hidden items (no matter how many different types there are) becomes a little monotonous which makes the replay value generally lacking in variety.
It would have been great to see something like leaderboards or other online components to allow players to share the emotional experience with others. Some additional puzzles with a higher difficulty level would be great to work through, too, as the team definitely knows how to make them engaging.
RiME is an attractive title that sends you on a fascinating journey. The unvaried replay value shouldn't keep you from giving it a try as it's an adventure game that stays interesting and accomplishes an intriguing dialog without even one spoken word.
- + Atmospheric visuals and orchestral soundtrack are very impressive
- + Generally good variety of gameplay
- + Touching story
- - Lack of satisfying replay value
- - Not enough challenging puzzles