Rime, developed by Tequila Works, is a beautiful puzzle game with a gorgeously cohesive art style and melancholy undertone. You play as a boy who finds himself washed ashore on an unfamiliar island. Without much guidance, you’re thrust into a strange but beautiful world. It is mostly linear with each progression being blocked by a variety of puzzles. Drawing heavy inspiration from Team Ico’s Last Guardian and has flavors from other poignant, emotionally charged games like Brothers: Tale of Two Sons and Journey, it doesn’t do much to set itself apart.
The most apparent thing, and easily Rime’s best quality, is its visuals. I am rarely as blown away with a cartoon stylized art-style as I was with Rime’s. Each new hill or area brought vistas that wouldn’t look out of place in a modern animated movie. Unfortunately, sometimes the illusion is shattered by animation glitches and strange hit detection. During any climbing or jumping sections the boy also has a tendency to instantly adhere to walls instead of travelling gracefully the length to them. These are minor complaints as everything else is such a joy to behold.
Rime is ultimately a puzzle game with an end goal of solving the mystery surrounding your circumstances. There are a surprisingly diverse amount of puzzles offered. Some share the same concepts – like perspective puzzles, and others dealing with light and shadow – but frequently with each new area came a new puzzle mechanic. Puzzles run the gamut from moving blocks, coaxing animals out of your way, manipulating the day-night cycle or yelling at statues. Yes, most of your interactions in Rime involve your character yelling “HA!” at either a statue, a brazier, or something similar.
Even though there are some good ideas in Rime’s puzzles, they are often too easy. I don’t recall having a single “ah ha!” moment of satisfaction after tackling a particularly tough puzzle. Instead, I would find that I spent more time travelling between pieces of larger puzzles than I would take actually trying to determine what to do. Sometimes the puzzle impeding my progress felt like a mere formality, presenting no challenge at all. It’s possible that Rime would have benefited from a less eclectic puzzle variety, instead focusing on introducing core puzzle mechanics and building complexity.
Platforming is handled in a way similar to Uncharted or Tomb Raider. You can’t climb everything, and ledges you can grab are indicated with a white, drippy stripe. Sometimes getting the boy to do what I wanted while climbing, like to reach for a ledge, could be frustrating. The jumping in general can feel imprecise, especially for those jumps that you can only just make. Some harder platforming sections toward the end of the game felt tedious – I would miss a super precise jump and be forced to repeat the entire section. In these cases, I would almost rather the boy fall to his death, because there is less of a penalty. In Rime, your character cannot die. Instead, you are greeted by a black screen and the boy quickly reappears safe and alive.
There isn’t a way to really die in Rime, so there aren’t really any conventional enemies. Instead, hostile NPCs are treated as just another puzzle. You either have to avoid their sight, or use some object or environmental element against them. Even things that were hostile and trying to kill you in one part of the game may completely ignore you in another part – another example of Rime’s eclectic puzzle style doing away with consistency.
Despite the lack of most real foes you do make a few friends along the way. Rime isn’t a completely solitary adventure. Though often they do nothing more than guide you, or open a new pathway, the boy’s interactions with these non-player characters helped display his personality. These NPC interactions – despite how wonderful they can be- are few.
After being paraded around as a Switch game, the Nintendo Switch port of Rime, which is being worked on by Tantulus Media, doesn’t have an exact release date yet. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be released until sometime this summer. Reports are that when it does release it will be stuck in 720p in both docked and handheld modes, though a patch may raise the resolution for docked mode in the future.
Some playing Rime on PC are reportedly having performance issues with some users claiming bad optimization. The developer has recently released a statement saying that they were aware of these performance issues, and that they will address them. Also, the PC version of Rime shipped with sometimes controversial anti software Denuvo, which the developer promised to remove if the copy protection is cracked by pirates. Rime was indeed cracked by pirates and Denuvo was removed on June 1.
Rime’s story is a poignant one and its gorgeous graphics serve as a good foil to those who might be staunchly against cartoon-stylized visuals. It is a game that has been done better before, but if you are in the mood for a short, light puzzler with some platforming elements, this might be the game for you, (though you might want to wait for a sale.) Rime is out now for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows.