Release Date: May 26th, 2017
Developer: Tequila Works
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
There are times when a game comes out - whether it's highly anticipated, a sleeper hit, an Indie darling, etc. - that simply takes your breath away and renders one speechless. The last couples of years alone has seen releases that do just this, both big and small, that have made it no better time to be playing video games. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Abzu, Journey, Three/Fourth's Home, Dear Esther, The Last of Us, Inside, Gone Home, and so much more have achieved this through a collective effort of polishing and making all aspects of the game feel whole and complement each other equally without sacrificing anything in return. RIME can now be added to this list as a stunning game with an incredible atmosphere, impeccable score, and world to explore as you find out who you are while experiencing the wonder and beauty Tequila Works has crafted with their new title.
RIME has you play as a young boy who awakes washed up on a beach with no recollection of how he got there or the area that he's in. As you play through you'll solve puzzles and platform your way through the world of RIME while uncovering your past, the mysteries of the space around you, and so much more. RIME offers a deep and profound look into this child's life while also connecting with players and journeying with them as they go. The score that travels with you, composed by David Garcia, is ethereal, wonderful, euphoric, and feels like you're listening to the music of life as the ocean waves bend and the stars glisten in the night sky. Playing RIME with headphones made me not only feel more immersed, but had me at peace and in such a state of relaxation that I'd purposely stop and look out into the distance and see the colors smile, the birds fly over me, and the land welcome me in. Regardless of the platform RIME is being played on, I implore those to go into it with headphones.
One of the many great things about RIME is that whether you're playing in short bursts or plan on having long play sessions, it accommodates both playstyles. The game has plenty to offer after you're done with it, allowing you to go back and collect anything you may have missed during your initial playthrough of it, so if you're just here for the story or the experience and end up finding yourself later on wanting to squeeze more out of it, it's relatively easy to jump back into wherever you'd like to go in the game and pick up any forgotten items. This is only attainable after your initial playthrough however, as the game won't let you go back until you've beaten it the first time, then it's a free-for-all after that. Playing through RIME, besides the puzzles and levels, has a lot of wonderment involved with it thanks to hidden locations among other things. It welcomes exploration but also invites those that want something quick, refreshing, and easy to play for the weekend. The only real issue with going through the world is that, in some cases, the controls felt a bit slippery as you'd hang from a platform, and it'd take the stick a few tilts before the character would look back to indicate he was ready to jump behind him onto the next ledge. This bit added with odd turning issues and occasional slow movement made it feel unresponsive at times and caused frustration, but it wasn't such a lingering feeling that it ruined the experience or took me out of it, but it happened intermittently enough that one couldn't help but notice the drawbacks of it, sometimes causing me to fall off ledges and throwing off my timing because of it. Frame drops are sporadic as well, and while it, much like the controls, isn't so bad that it ruins the gameplay, I couldn't help but wonder after the occasional stutter why a game like this, though beautiful and plentiful, would have such issues running below 60fps on the likes of a PS4 Pro or a high-end gaming PC with its art direction. It's a playful art style that doesn’t offer much shading, textures, or anything of the sort that would cause intensive RAM or CPU usage, so it may have just been a lack of optimization on the developer's part.
RIME is going to have a different connection with everybody. While some may find it mundane and too artsy, others will find it beautiful and enjoyable. There's a lot to be loved about RIME, what it stands for, and where it takes you. It also makes me wish there's a potential VR update in the future, because if there's anything that would make one really love RIME any more, it would be into the world itself, becoming even more immersed than one would initially be. Those looking for a pure puzzle game along the lines of Q.U.B.E. or something a little more profound like Asemblance will be disappointed, but RIME takes the best parts of puzzles, adventures, walking simulators, platformers, and pure narrative-driven genres and blends them beautifully into a package that's the perfect length. I personally beat the game around 8 hours, though I could have done it much quicker had I not stopped to look around and take it all in from time and time, or simply to enjoy the score or get side tracked by trying to find hidden objects and locations throughout. Some may be able to beat it in as quick as 3-4 hours, others will average at 6-8. The puzzles aren't particularly difficult, so the only reason why it'd take 10+ hours for some people is if they're trying to complete it 100% and go for the Platinum Trophy, or their puzzle deduction skills and platforming incompetence is keeping them from progressing any further.
RIME delivers an unprecedented scope and look into the beauty of art in video games and how important it is to create esoteric and profound titles from time to time that help us relax but simultaneously open our eyes and delve into something deeper within ourselves, our minds, and beyond. The pacing of the game is perfect, the architecture of the space around you, the masterful score composed by David Garcia that breathes melodic life into RIME and the environment around the player - so much of this blends together seamlessly and symbiotically that you can't help but explore as well as appreciate the surroundings, taking a breather and absorbing all of it in you. In a trend of multiplayer-focused titles, gore, violence, shooters, free-to-play nonsense and more plaguing the medium lately, this is the video game equivalent of stopping to smell the roses. Yes, it's possible to make a game that doesn't involve someone getting shot; Yes, it's possible to also make that game fun; Yes, it's possible to spend hours upon hours on it simply from the exploration alone and get your money's worth out of it — All of this is attainable, and more, without a single drop of blood, and, especially in RIME's case, without any dialogue whatsoever. Let the music, the wind, and the world guide you through RIME as you play through a new hit by Tequila Works, and a game that will be remembered for years to come.
- One of the best scores attached to a video game with a fantastic composition of material; strings harmoniously and gracefully lending their sound to the land of RIME
- A beautifully crafted world to explore and get lost in
- The narrative is cleverly portrayed to the world you explore, the gameplay, structures, and various mementos scattered throughout
- A timeless art direction that will make the game pretty to look at even 10+ years from now
- Occasional frame dips that shouldn't be happening on the likes of a PS4 Pro or a high-end gaming PC
- Controls can get slippery from time to time
A big thank you to Tequila Works and Grey Box for sending us a copy for review!