RiME is set in a charming, well-realized, and long-forgotten world, with gameplay focusing on light platforming and puzzle solving, but performance issues and visual muddiness hold the game back from achieving masterpiece status.
Awaking on strange shores after being shipwrecked, neither the player nor the main character in RiME has a prompt. No tutorial. Just the island, opened up before you. Like several of my favorite classic games (like Super Metroid) Tequila Works crafted a world that drew me in quickly, and let me explore on my own, untethered.
Modern games often opt for lengthy tutorials in lieu of clever design, so I will always praise a game that believes in the intelligence of its players, letting them run free. RiME pushes players to explore and discover solutions to the island’s many puzzles, and this is one area where the game shines.
The puzzles in RiME remind me of simplified versions of those found in Pneuma: Breath of Life or The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, but the overall experience of RiME feels more like Journey or Abzu than your standard adventure or puzzle game.
Players will solve puzzles by gathering keys to open doors, moving stone blocks to create pathways to raised ledges, or even simply looking at objects from a certain perspective to align them. Puzzles in RiME are clever, but straightforward enough to avoid becoming frustrating.
There were very few times when I was unsure of which direction to go, as Tequila Works signposted climbable objects well, and although the camera sometimes caused problems, it largely works well enough to avoid becoming bothersome. The climbing mechanics are reminiscent of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, and they work to great effect here.
I did encounter an issue with climbing in one particular room (where I apparently wasn’t supposed to be climbing), which resulted in me falling through the world and into an endless ocean, but that was an isolated incident, and the pause menu option to restart from the previous autosave immediately put me back on the right track.
The music in RiME is poignant and thoughtful, heavy on strings, and helped to create a lonely environment as I explored. Some tracks were emotional and even inspirational, and the soundtrack will definitely be one to pick up, especially for fans of sweeping orchestral pieces.
I will not spoil the story here, but RiME is a beautifully told, powerfully moving story told largely environmentally until very late in the game. The final 10 minutes showcase some of the best storytelling I’ve experienced in years.
Unfortunately, the game does have its share of issues. I experienced drastic reductions in framerate, at first only when coming up on an expansive view, then much more frequently. In some sections of the game, the framerate chugged more than others, but it remained an issue for much of my playthrough.
In addition, playing in handheld mode reveals slightly muddy textures which make the game less visually appealing. The problem doesn’t always manifest itself, and much of the game is downright gorgeous.
The game having technical issues of this magnitude is unfortunate because the art direction, level design, and aesthetic of RiME are all fantastic and the story the game tells is incredibly moving and full of heart, which is even more impressive when one considers there is no dialogue in this game at all.
RiME is an incredible game, and it breaks my heart to think that the technical issues it has on Switch will keep players from experiencing the masterpiece it could be.
In spite of frequent frame drops, I am very glad I played RiME, and the story it told will stick with me for a long time. If you can overlook performance issues, and a moving emotional experience like Journey is something you would welcome, you can pick RiME up on the Nintendo eShop for $29.99.
Brian Barnett has loved video games ever since his uncle Jimmy introduced him to them at the ripe old age of five. His wife, Audrey, was also introduced to video games by her uncle, lending credence to Brian’s theory that behind every gamer, there is a cool uncle.
Since playing Super Mario Bros. on the NES, Brian has had a passion for Nintendo games. The first thing he did when he started earning money was save up and buy himself a Game Boy, and they quickly became inseparable. Through the years, this led to his special love of portable game consoles, so the release of the Switch is the perfect storm of Nintendo action he has been waiting for.
In addition to his gaming obsession, Brian enjoys playing drums, writing and listening to music, and hosting a weekly video game and nerd culture podcast.
He is an extrovert, and loves talking about and playing games with others, so let him know if you want to team up and play together!
Plays: Switch, New 3DS, SNES, NES, GBA, PC, Xbox One, PS4, Vita