First announced in 2013 before going dark and then being re-revealed in early 2017, Rime, from developer Tequila Works, has been a long time coming. Based on the early preview gameplay, which teased an experience echoing that of fellow developers That Game Company and Team Ico, my expectations were lofty. I anticipated an emotional story, offering engaging mysteries set in a world brimming with imagination and thought provoking sequences. Rime delivers all of this and more. A couple of technical bumps aside, this odyssey of spiritual discovery is well worth taking.
Awaking as a young boy on a strange beach, shipwrecked and alone, questions instantly popped into my head. “Who am I? What is this unusual place?” Rime eventually answered all my questions artfully but not before offering up new questions to ponder, all without any spoken or written words. The story, one of love and loss, is exclusively told through the environments and the actions of the player, masterfully tugging at your heart strings and never letting go.
“I was completely invested in unearthing the ultimate truth behind the world of Rime and the mysterious figure in red who called to me with nothing more than their presence.”
Admittedly, a brief cloud of worry formed as I dived into Rime. An early sequence involving swimming underwater didn’t feel great and the camera jarringly cut to a slightly different angle when submerging and surfacing. There are also some occasional frame-rate hiccups when little is happening on screen. Multiple early flags popped up in my head but it didn’t take long for Tequila Works’ latest to squash my concerns. By the end of my first hour with the game I was completely invested in unearthing the ultimate truth behind the world of Rime and the mysterious figure in red who called to me with nothing more than their presence.
Exploration and puzzle solving, physically and spiritually, is at the core of Rime’s gameplay experience and both elements are offered up in spades. There are five distinct levels with multiple hidden items to find and while none of the environments seem overly large at first, once the campaign was complete and I viewed my stats, I realized how little I had actually discovered. Supplemental story material, multiple outfits, and other collectibles can be found in the many nooks and crannies of Rime’s environments, enticing me to return to each level once the credits had rolled on my roughly six hour journey. None of the game’s environmental puzzles require much brain power to solve but thanks to the various mechanics at play they remain interesting. The manipulation of time and perspective is put to great use within Rime’s puzzles and everything is built into the environments in a natural, convincing manner. You’ll certainly have a few “aha!” moments, but you’ll never be left scratching your head, which keeps the proceedings moving along at a nice pace.
There is no real combat to speak of, but you’ll need to defend yourself at multiple points along the quest. Controls are simple and intuitive and running around environments, climbing up obviously marked ledges, and leaping across the platforming sections is generally a fun experience. As teased earlier, swimming underwater is the only aspect of the core gameplay that registers as subpar, feeling a little like swimming used to feel in video games before analog controllers were all the rage: awkward and ungraceful.
“Rime takes cues from games such as The Witness and The Wind Waker with a simple yet meticulous low poly look coated in beautifully vibrant splashes of paint.”
Visually speaking, Rime takes cues from games such as The Witness and The Wind Waker with a simple yet meticulous low poly look coated in beautifully vibrant splashes of paint. Environments are loaded with points of interest and everything looks lovingly hand-crafted and placed in each scene. The lighting is often striking, especially when scrubbing through time quickly with Rime’s time-shifting puzzles. Not every object casts a shadow though, so there are a few flat looking objects here and there, but overall the art direction is stellar.
That same praise can be showered on Rime’s soundtrack, from composer David Garcia Diaz. It’s constantly rolling in and out of the background like the waves that washed your nameless character ashore and it adds an extra emotional punch to Rime’s heavy revelations.
While Rime’s long trek from announcement to delivery may have been tough to endure for those initially struck by its ethereal charm, the wait has been worth it. Rime is thoughtful, intelligently designed, and satisfyingly accomplishes the emotional experience it strives to deliver. It’s Journey meets The Last Guardian, and while individual elements of Rime feel familiar at times, the way they’re combined make for a unique and memorable experience.
*** PS4 code provided by the publisher ***
- Compelling story
- Stellar art direction
- Wonderful soundtrack
- Interesting puzzles
- Lots of optional collectibles to find
- Swimming feels a bit awkward
- Very minor technical hiccups