RIME is an indie game from developer Tequila Works who have previously worked on Deadlight. It was initially announced as a PlayStation 4 exclusive and revealed all the way back in 2014. The game mysteriously disappeared after its initial appearance only to resurface as a multiplatform game with a new publisher. Due to this, there was speculation among fans that the game might have faced a troubled production however it is sufficient to say that after playing the actual game once it is out, I can safely conclude that RIME is one of the finest interactive adventure that I have played this year.
RIME is an experience that relies on visuals and sounds to tell the tale of a boy who washes ashore a mysterious island. There is nothing told about the boy or who is the stranger in the red cloak that keeps showing up throughout the game. The boy also befriends a fox that he frees from a statue and the fox acts as a guide through his journey. The developers know how to immerse the player in the surrounding as there is no UI to clutter the screen. The story is all told through the experience that you have in this journey and it is up to you to piece it together. Sounds just like any artistic indie game, right? Well it’s true since RIME is one of them. However what elevates RIME from other similar game is its gorgeous visuals and soundtrack. Even the puzzles are neither too hard, nor too easy to figure out. RIME is one of the most artistically gorgeous game that I have played on the PlayStation 4.
It is strange for me to praise RIME since I was never interested in it in the first place. The initial reveal trailer and the subsequent gameplay showcase never did anything for me. It wasn’t until I had a chance to experience the game myself that I finally understood the appeal of RIME. Don’t be discouraged by the simplistic gameplay nature of RIME because the game has a lot more heart and charm than you can see in the videos. It is a journey that will take you across variety of locations, one more beautiful than the previous, while solving some puzzles that are not too hard to figure out but still fun to solve.
The visuals of the game deserve all the praise that they can get. The developers seem to have taken inspiration from Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda series when it comes to the art style and visuals. The character models and animations are all top notch which really surprised me because the game is not an AAA production yet it carries the value of a big budgeted production easily rivaling something like The Last Guardian. However the gameplay is limited in that sense that you won’t have much opportunity to carry out action, instead majority of your time will be spent figuring out the puzzles and unlocking the next location on the island.
However as beautiful as RIME is, it can also have its fair share of issues. While the world that is presented in RIME is gorgeous, the amount of tasks that you can accomplish in it is trivial. The game doesn’t present much aside from platforming, picking up objects for puzzle solving or using your sound to activate magical locks. Some of the puzzles require you rely on optical illusions to line up a set of blocks, like in Lego pieces, so that they form a door. Majority of your journey will be comprised of doing these same mundane tasks however there are still some unique puzzles throughout the game that will require you to think beyond your own abilities.
The island in RIME is full of secret to discover however since the base gameplay is simple, it can be a slog to go from one location to next, especially if you are looking for secrets and don’t have a guide in hand. There are moments when the pacing of the game seems off. There was one point where I just was done with a huge puzzle only to stumble into another one right after. These sections feel like the game could have spaced out such sections so that the player had room to breath. However it is also easy to see where the developer where going with this approach, perhaps, they wanted you to play the game in short bursts of time and not necessarily in one whole sitting. I do think this is the best way to play RIME, take the journey slowly and cherish and experience each moment.
The world in RIME shows a lot of potential however the interaction with the world is limited. Exploration is simple, you can’t perform many actions, and the world feels barren at times. There is no tutorial or hints of any kind in RIME. You will have to figure out where to go, how to solve puzzle and how to progress to the next location yourself. The fox will be your guide through majority of the game and while the developers never spoil the surprise of each puzzle, they carefully drop hints on how to solve certain puzzles by showcasing the buttons to interact on the screen. While there is no tutorial, you can easily learn and adjust to the controls with a little trial and error.
Despite its moments of sheer brilliance, RIME unfortunately suffers from some technical issues that might diminish the overall experience. The frame rate in particular is bear worth mentioning here which can drop and result in a stutter on screen. I played the game on a PS4 Pro but unfortunately the experience isn’t smooth there either. Hopefully the developers can patch out these issues in an update. Technical issues aside, RIME is an experience that shouldn’t be missed especially if you like interactive adventure games.
RIME Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Rime is an adventure–puzzle video game developed by Tequila Works for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, and Nintendo Switch.
RIME takes inspiration from many classics including ICO and Journey to create a unique experience that never feels like it is from an indie developer. It masterfully utilizes visuals and music to create an exceptional adventure.