Have you gotten around to playing Rime?
Genre: Puzzle, Adventure
Developer: Tequila Works, QLOC
Publisher: Grey Box, Six Foot
Release date: 26 May, 2017
Rime is a title that I backlogged for whatever reason. I was spreading myself thin playing and reviewing, so it collected dust on my dresser for several months. I’m likely not alone. Eventually, it was added to the PS Plus free games list, so I am assuming a large percentage of PS4 members own it by now. Is it worth the time to play? It depends a bit on the type of gamer you are, but if you enjoy titles like Journey and Shadow of the Colossus I think you will feel right at home with Rime.
What Rime does is enshroud the player in a mystery about the events prior and the journey forward of a shipwrecked little boy with no name. You awaken on the shore of an island and begin the process of finding hidden objects and solving puzzles which slowly unravels the enigmatic story of a boy who fights the evil surrounding this island. Movement and controls are crisp and easy to handle with the usual Uncharted or Tomb Raider platforming mechanics, with an added amount of dexterity. Platforming is quite minor, though, as it is more a means to traverse the world instead of involving major action sequences or flexing your platforming skills.
There are hieroglyphs and paintings throughout, but there is no expanded story per se as it only hints at the underlying truth of what is to be discovered as you problem solve repeatedly for snipets of backstory. All you get for the bulk of the game is that you are some sort of savior who may have been brought back to life in a sort of Link to Zelda sort of way. There is more, of course, but since the story is scant I really don’t want to reveal more than that. Now, you do have a mysterious muse in the form of a little red fox who acts as a spirit guide to show you where to go next and occasionally how to solve a puzzle. It’s a good way of keeping players from getting lost, but in the backdrop of the colorful world there were a few times when I was unable to locate it other than its little yip of a bark. You become endeared to the little fox a bit, and it does help elucidate some of the storyline. What the game world accomplishes with the fox and the fleeting story tidbits is to create an ethereal reality. The player is left unsure if it’s magic or simply a haunted ruin of a city. Yet, the location constantly reminds the boy that he has a connection here, a purpose. How that all knits together won’t be put together until the end. The difficult part about this is that with all the mystery going about, I honestly didn’t know what I was moving forward to find or have a goal of any kind. The game is so open-ended that it’s almost listless.
The puzzles in the game start off quite simple and you’ll likely be flying along from the get go. Exploring the island is key if you want to find all the collectibles, and it affects the ending to a degree, but if you want to hurry through it won’t ruin the experience substantially.
An interesting mechanic is that you activate puzzles and sequences by calling out to them. It’s surprising as a way to move columns and open doors, and in a way it is sort of emotional because the boy is literally calling these items to life, even the flames on the torches in the dungeons.
For a rather long period of time, these platforming puzzles are incredibly simple. Eventually, these puzzles get a bit more challenging, especially the shadow play ones where I finally got stumped for a short while, but I think it could have ramped up the difficulty earlier on since there really isn’t much to do other than explore. That shadow puzzle felt a bit like an Uncharted Lost Legacy puzzle with shadows that have to line up correctly to reveal the hidden opening to the next area. Still, the intricacy of the puzzles are always manageable and never hits you over the head with super hard logic to contemplate. It’s a nice balance that likely won’t deter the player from continuing, but for seasoned puzzle lovers you will probably feel that it makes the game drag a bit. If anything, I think something else needed to be added to the interactions and story besides puzzles because after my umpteenth puzzle I was getting somewhat bored with the constant barrage of moving this and opening that.
These puzzles evolve into mechanisms and some long sequences of activating several ancient machines in a specific order to rescue the island from evil creatures trying to attack you. Here is where the game gets more interesting because prior to this, you are simply exploring and discovering the world around you. Once you are the subject of aggressive attacks, the situational dynamic changes because you are defenseless other than your wits and shouting. The main antagonists are a sort of giant vulture that attacks the moment you reveal yourself and some creepy hooded wraiths that can gang up on you to suck your life out. They are also a bit odd as they attack you in some locations, but in other areas they shy away in fear.
Along the way, as you rescue this island from the evil around it, you also encounter a mysterious red cloaked person who always stays out of view. Often this is accompanied by a flashback of some prior events that will remain unclear until the very end of the game. One thing I have to advise strongly is not to look up a walk-through, at least for the ending of the game because it will absolutely ruin it unless you keep yourself in the dark until the last moment. How you react to the end of Rime will depend entirely on the individual, and it’s been a mild topic of debate, but do bear in mind that story does not follow a standard ending as some may expect.
On the PS4, Rime runs quite well. I encountered no slowdowns or issues playing at what I believe is 30 fps. I heard there were issues prior to this, but my guess is that it has been patched since then. This is quite important because the game is total eye candy with the art direction and style. There are varied locales such as dark caves, deserts, seashores, and rain-filled nights. It definitely has a soul of its own and if I was to make comparisons I’d say perhaps it has an animated look similar to Ico or Shadow of the Colossus, but the older PS2 version not the new PS4 one. The artwork is soft and flowy, like Wind Waker yet not as cartoonish. It’s pleasant and somewhat timeless, making the most impact as it can with cell shaded goodness. I won’t bother to remark about it more than that as the art style speaks for itself. I’d suggest simply viewing the screenshots to have an idea of the grandeur of what amounts to a work of art for a gameworld.
The variety of game landscapes utilizes the environment for the gameplay well. Underground you have light activated puzzles, up towers you have levers placed at different heights, and under water there are timed air bubbles needed as you move from point to point, which I really enjoyed . There were a few areas where I was caught on geometry while jumping, but for the most part the game went by without a hitch.
Rime has some of the best composed symphonic music I have heard on the PS4. I think the soundtrack would be well worth purchasing or adding to a playlist. If you enjoy an orchestra playing while you game, this certainly won’t disappoint. The sound effects also did s great job informing me of game commands and impeding concerns. Overall, the sound design and graphic quality is superb.
Where is all the praise?
So, why didn’t Rime take off as a major milestone in gaming history? It sounds like it should have been s huge hit. It wasn’t and I think I can guess as to a few reasons why. Firstly, Rime is a solitary game where you go through solving puzzles without much in the way of personal involvement and only mild contextual interactions . The character of the boy is done well, but after an hour or so the game becomes a bit of a chore. The progression is sandboxed yet still feels quite linear as you go from one puzzle to the next with only a few areas where you can choose what section to do first. Until the middle of the game, the puzzles are rather easy without any tension in the event of failure. Even if you die, you just reappear where you were before. Unfortunately, the game gives way to tedium after awhile rather than eyes-wide-open amazement. Now there is a wonderful section of the game involving some stone robots that was likely the best part of the game, mostly because of the reactionary and connective aspect of the robot to the boy. If there had been more of that in the early parts of the game with some other entity, namely the fox, I think the game would have had a more endearing reaction from gamers. The relationship between the fox and the boy is slightly emotional, but I didn’t find it terribly heartwarming because the fox does little else than move from one area to the next as a guide. Granted, without that fox I may have been completely lost. The game meanders from area to the next without much in the way of hints, but then again the puzzles aren’t exactly rocket science. Now, I have to say that Journey is much the same way. As a matter of fact, Journey played in 2018 is nowhere near as mind blowing as it was back in the day. So, the times have affected the reaction as well. Also, there were a slew of fantastic games on the PS4 for 2017. It got buried in the mix to a certain degree by much bigger, better, and diverse games.
The ending also had a mixed reaction because it failed to provide the usual fare of most games. For that, I completely disagree with criticisms, but that is a personal opinion. I loved the ending and I think it’s all the better because not everything is butterflies and roses in real life. As such, I think it makes it ring all the more true to the humanity of the game.
Rime is certainly worth a playthrough if you have it in your PS+ library and generally enjoy puzzle games. You should be able to finish it in a weekend or so and the final journey is well worth the time involved. If you don’t like puzzles much and prefer action, I’d have to say it may not appeal to you. Expect the game to get a little boring until you get to some challenging areas, but once you get to that point the puzzles become more interesting and the environment changes are great. However, don’t expect the Talos Principle here, the mind wracking in the game is mostly light fare. When enemies appear you’ll get a significantly more interesting gameplay with the tension it adds, but even then it’s minor. As for uncovering the story behind the island and the little boy, there are many hints along the way that point to the final conclusion, but it is well hidden and ends quite dramatically. If you don’t have it is your PS+ library, I’d say consider it when the price range is about $15 or under. It’s not a must play game, but if it seems like it would appeal to you then you likely enjoy the journey. If you are considering this for the Switch, I’ve heard a new patch has fixed the framerate issue. A Steam copy would likely be similar to the PS4 version, but at a higher framerate and I’d advise it for a price of about $10 or so given that time has passed quite a bit since release and, of course, PC prices are generally lower than PS4 and Switch. Rime is an enjoyable title, but doesn’t fill the shoes of games like Ico or Shadow of the Colossus. That said, it’s worth the time for the adventure and should be something you can complete in a weekend at most.