What happens when you take a young boy, throw him on a mysterious island and then leave him to solve environmental puzzles? On paper, this game sounds a lot like a Team Ico title, or something out of thatgamecompany, creators of Journey. It's none of these, this is Rime from Tequila Works.
It took me seven hours to finish this puzzle platformer and even though it borrows from a couple of my favorite games of all time like Shadow of the Colossus and Journey, Rime can’t quite live up to the games it was inspired by, even if it does exceed in its overall presentation. It’s a visually stunning game with an excellent soundtrack but it’s just not that fun to play.
The boy felt stiff to control and he never ran as fast as I wanted him to. The jumping in Rime was also sticky and I never felt confident traversing ledges. The minimal moments in which the game deals with swimming is also pretty awful as the camera jittered every time I dove beneath the surface. These controls don’t break the game but they’re off just enough that it bothered me, especially since the majority of the game requires platforming to solve the many puzzles.
The puzzles took a bit of time for me, but I’m just bad at them. Some of the puzzles in Rime are things I’ve never seen before in a game. Using light physics and perspective as a puzzle mechanic felt incredibly fresh. With that being said, I genuinely felt pretty good about completing each of these challenges, though, most of them were pretty easy to figure out, that is, once I found the mechanic.
I suppose the worst part about each of Rime’s challenges is the fact that the challenge comes from a lack of direction. There’s no HUD and the game relies on minor visual cues, but sometimes I didn’t notice them at all. Perhaps if I had a clearer sense of direction maybe I wouldn’t have been stuck on some of these puzzles for as long as I was. After about four hours, the puzzles are the same ones you’ve experienced before and the middle hours of the game felt like a drag. The game usually had me repeat the same task over and over and over again. It wasn’t fun. But hey at least it’s really pretty to look at!
Rime is more style than substance, and its inspirations are so obvious that I couldn’t help but compare it to those other games. I’d be able to forgive the clunky controls if at least the story was a bit more interesting. I only kept playing because of the curiosity I had for this world and the boy. But ultimately there was no emotional payoff. The game didn’t do a good enough job setting up these would-be gut-wrenching moments as I was playing it, so by the time a serious plot twist emerged towards the end, I couldn’t bring myself to even care. And I really wanted to care about this character. Oh well, at least this game is gorgeous.