Capsule Review: RiME

An atmospheric and exploration-heavy puzzle platformer superficially similar to games like ICO, Journey, and ABZÛ. Play as a nameless boy who wakes up on an island with no explanation, explore a handful of varied and beautiful environments, complete platforming challenges and solve puzzles to progress. There’s no dialog and much of the storytelling is vague or ambiguous.

Given how much of your time is spent platforming, it’s disappointing how bad the player character is at it. Traversal is slow and clunky-feeling, and it’s even worse when a puzzle takes you across an extended climbing/jumping section and then doesn’t give you a shortcut way back. There are also a number of hidden collectibles and optional puzzles to find off the beaten path, but I found them a distraction from the game’s atmosphere, which is clearly its greatest strength.

Unfortunately, even the atmosphere fell flat to me due to being just too vague. I had no idea who I was supposed to be, what the island was about, or what I was supposed to be doing. There was nothing with clear meaning or significance for me to latch on to. There has to be some kind of context to your actions for them to be engaging. ICO provides motivation by quickly introducing you to Yorda and tasking you with protecting her, and ABZÛ has you restoring life to the sea - RiME gives you much less to go on. There’s a fox and a hooded figure that more or less point the way forward, but no clear reason to follow them.

The puzzles you find along the way are similarly unclear, featuring unexplained mechanics that don’t follow any external logic. For the vast majority of them, I had no “ah ha” moment. It felt more like I just tried enough different things that the game eventually decided to let me move forward.

I feel like a game can oblige the player to move forward through puzzles if it provides a driving motivation or puzzles that are enjoyable in their own right (ideally both), or it can present a meditative atmospheric experience with minimal friction. For me, RiME did neither, instead throwing up time-wasting and mood-killing barriers to my progress without a compelling reason to persist through them.

I Stopped Playing When: Since this game is well-regarded by reviewers I trust, I stuck with it for a full ninety minutes or so and finished out the first world/chapter/area/whatever. Absolutely nothing had grabbed me by that point, so I re-read several reviews and confirmed that the things I disliked so far continued throughout the game, meaning I had no reason to continue any further.

Docprof's Rating:

One Star: Not for me. While there might be someone out there who'd enjoy this game, I was actively repulsed by it or just found nothing to latch on to.

You can get it or learn more here.