Let me just say right off the bat that I had very high hopes for Rise & Shine. In fact, it had been one of my most anticipated indie releases of this year. And while there are a few things to like about the game, especially if you’re into bullet hell shooters, the end product is a flawed mix of gameplay elements that fail to reach their full potential.
Rise & Shine takes place on the fictional world of Gamearth, a land absolutely teeming with video-game references from Gears of War, Flappy Bird and I’m pretty sure I saw Solid Snake carrying a box during one cutscene as well. You play as the titular character Rise, a 10 year old boy who upon being given the sentient gun Shine, is drafted into a war against the invading Gears.
Don’t expect Rise & Shine’s story to make a whole lot of sense because the game doesn’t try to either, with no context being provided for any character motivations or even why the events of the game are unfolding the way they are. It almost has kind of a “Meh, it’s a video game” type of attitude at times.
And I know it seems like I’m giving the game a lot of shit for using the whole “Video Game Logic” approach, but it’s just not that good. The whole plot is kind of a hit and miss ordeal, and this carries over to the humor as well.
In terms of gameplay, Rise & Shine features a blend of cover based shooting mixed with fast paced over-the-top bullet hell sequences occasionally broken up by some clever puzzles. Gunplay is focused on drawing your weapon with a dedicated button and raining pain upon your foes with one of 2 firing modes, regular and guided.
Combat can be very hectic and fun for the most part as you quickly switch between modes and attempt to just stay alive. But there are moments in the game, and these occur way more often than they should, where the difficulty fluctuates so much that it can almost seem unfair.
Now far be it for me, an avid Dark Souls player, to complain about a game being difficult, but there are times in the game where you are pitted against so many enemies at once, that the screen is completely engulfed in their bullets. And when you keep in mind that cover is destructible and that your character can go down in 3 hits, my complaints start to take shape.
One particular encounter had me stuck in place for over 10 minutes, in which I was stuck behind cover while 6 different enemies wailed on me from 3 different directions. The constant stream of bullets was so intense, that I barely had any time to peek out and fire, at which point I would promptly be reduced to a puddle of blood and guts. So yeah, it’s really hard.
One of the few good things that I can say about the game is that it is absolutely gorgeous. From the very moment I stepped into the game, I immediately fell in love with it’s amazing art style. The cartoonish graphics and vibrant color palette are are at odds with, yet at the same time greatly accentuate, the game’s brutal and gory representation of war. It is a fantastic combination that not a lot of games can manage to pull off, and combining that with an incredible soundtrack makes this an absolute delight for the senses.
In conclusion, my 4 hour journey with the game could have been much much shorter, had the game actually been balanced. Rise & Shine definitely has the trappings of a great game, but a forgetful story and unpaced gameplay leave much to be desired.
Rise & Shine is available for the Xbox One and PC. It was developed by Super Mega Team and published by Adult Swim Games. This review covers the Xbox One version of the game.
Rise & Shine Review (Xbox One)
Try this game out for the beautiful art style and your occasional dose of maniacal bullet hell gameplay, but prepare to rage quit more often than you would like.