Tequila Works’ action adventure title, RiME, has left gamers desperate for more info since it was originally unveiled in 2013. After nearly four years in development, RiME has finally seen the light of day, and the real question now is “Was it worth the wait?”
Starting with a tumultuous thunderstorm, a wrecked ship, and a lone child washing upon the sandy shore of a mysterious island, RiME lets players know right out of the gate that the game’s experience is going to tug on your heart strings. Stranded and alone, players take control of the child protagonist. The main character’s design is intentionally androgynous, allowing the player to project themselves onto the character more readily. The island the child is on initially is overwhelmingly expansive, and littered with an abundance of secrets and collectibles for players to explore. RiME was originally intended to be an open world experience, but ultimately devolved into a more linear experience. However, the opening island stage still hangs on to that open world vibe with its array of caves, ocean, and plethora of ancient ruins just begging to be climbed on. In exploring the ruins of a long lost civilization, players will discover that the protagonist can activate statues to open doors and even evoke the spirit of a helpful fox.
RiME is content to allow its players to soak up the world and explore at it their whim. There’s nothing in the way of combat, and death has very little consequence here. Falls due to missteps while platforming, staying under water too long, and other dangers simply result in the screen fading to black while the character is reset to safety. Even run ins with the terrifying winged beast from the game’s second chapter put the player back just a few second so that they can attempt the task again. Its obvious that Tequila Works intended for players of RiME to experience the story conveyed within the world of RiME and really soak it all in, rather than stress about overcoming the various obstacles.
Tequila Works held fast to their minimalist aesthetic, allowing the meat of the story to be told without any dialogue but instead through gorgeous murals and interactions with puzzles and objects in the world. Even the game’s HUD is lacking in any sort of user interface, forgoing notifications of objectives or a map to allow players as much freedom as possible. This means a lot of the puzzle solving falls upon the trial and error method of game play, and even trying something once or twice is not a guarantee that it won’t work the third or fourth time. Some of the game’s later, more expansive puzzles can feel overwhelming because of this design choice. Additionally, trekking back and forth across the world may make it feel larger, it also lends itself to the possibility of missing other areas that could have been explored. Once you’ve run through an area a dozen times just in an effort to solve a complicated puzzle, you’re not really in the mood to hang around and look for secrets. Thankfully, RiME does offer chapter select following completion, so players can go back for missed areas after the fact.
At it’s heart, RiME is a deeply emotional experience that weaves a silent tale of coping with loss and heartache that will tug on even the most stoic of heart strings. Its not an entirely flawless experience, however, as the game suffers greatly from frame rate stuttering, most notably during the beginning stage on the giant island and in later stages during heavy cinematic moments. With any hope a future patch could clear this up, and RiME can cement its rightful position as a modern classic.