Critics have now released their reviews for RiME, a multiplatform title headed to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on May 26. A Nintendo Switch port is also set to launch on an unannounced date.
Right off the bat, critics are throwing phrases such as “beautifully realized,” “artistically stunning,” and even “hauntingly beautiful.” Yet RiME has also received plenty of criticism for its evident similarity to games with a comparable level of emotional arch, such as The Legend of Zelda, The Last Guardian, and Shadow of the Colossus.
RiME is about a cloaked boy wandering through vast uncharted terrain. The only weapon is this boy’s voice, which ferries him through puzzles that block his path forward.
The premise certainly isn’t new, as exploration in solitude has been a staple concept in past games. Still, seeing as how RiME borrows big elements from the formula, Polygon thinks “it doesn’t always come out well in the comparison that invites.”
“For all of its moments of beauty and discovery, it’s also hard not to feel a sense of déjà vu while visiting the world of [RiME],” states The Verge in its review, calling games such as The Last Guardian for comparison. This seems to be the crux of RiME‘s criticism — when viewed against games with a similar formula, it’s either a hit or miss. When viewed on its own, it’s a stunner.
But for all its shortcomings, RiME uses the formula to great effect. For instance, the game doesn’t punish the player for failure. It guides them smoothly to avoid being stuck or getting lost. Puzzles, by extension, fit snugly into the narrative and don’t feel forced.
“Largely environmental in nature, the puzzles always feel like a proper part of the world, rather than an added layer on top to give gamers something to do,” according to PlayStation Lifestyle’s review.
A crucial gameplay element of RiME is its easygoing approach to deaths, losses, failures, and setbacks. In other games, suffer a failure and there’d be grave consequences, such as losing minutes or hours’ worth of progress.
“[RiME] has no desire to pummel you until you learn its systems — it’s content to let you walk gently down its scripted path, soaking up the ambience, swimming with the jellyfish, admiring the view,” writes The Guardian in its review.
RiME: Exploring The World
RiME‘s worldbuilding isn’t as complex and colossal as the games it’s being compared to, and some critics are divided about the game’s vast land. Polygon thinks it lacks character, as if it “levels an ancient civilization built for a boy to someday play a puzzle platformer in.”
The Verge, however, thinks otherwise.
“[RiME’s] world often feels more diverse and complex than its inspirations, and it also adds its own important elements, with better-designed puzzles, a lush, colorful art style, and a story that proves itself to be powerful and poignant by the end.”
The Guardian agrees:
“The warren of caverns, temples and mountain tops give a sense of limitless possibility; at any moment you might be able to clamber up vines, shuffle across a ledge, or leap into the azure ocean.”
RiME: Final Thoughts
As much as RiME deserves to be contrasted with past games critics say it borrowed elements from, it’s also enough of an original title to be reviewed in its own right, regardless of purported similarities.
On its own, RiME is lush — a notably silent experience of exploration and discovery, taking place in an island as alive as the mystery our protagonist has to unearth.
RiME launches May 26.