In the latest game from Tequila Works, simply called “RiME”, you assume the role of a small boy who mysteriously washes up on the shore of a mysterious island. You’re given no back story about the character or how he arrived, and that’s the driving force behind the vague storyline present here. As you explore your surroundings, you’ll solves puzzles that might vaguely remind you of those you’ve solved in games like The “Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time”, but these puzzles are very “light” compared to those. Each puzzle opens up new areas previously unavailable to the player, ultimately leading to some answers at the end of this 6-10 hour experience.
Upon starting “RiME” I was immediately drawn in by the gorgeous art that reminded me of another Zelda title, “Wind Waker”. The colors are vibrant, and there’s definitely a draw to search out and learn about where you are and how you got there. That couples with the very serene yet engaging music makes for a very pleasant introduction. It’s somewhat calming to just “be” in this world, walking around, learning the mechanics and soaking in the environment.
Unfortunately, that’s about where my enjoyment in this game came to an end. I found myself quite a bit frustrated trying to figure out exactly what this game wanted me to do. I’m all for avoiding holding my hand in a video game, but the only help I received at all was a prompt telling me which button to press to jump up onto a ledge. The rest of the mechanics have to be unravelled through trial and error, which wound up getting in the way of what could have been a great experience.
Puzzle adventures games feel great when they offer clever solutions that make you feel great for solving them, but I found myself scratching my head more than having those “A-ha!” moments. If you’ve ever played “Myst”, I liken the puzzles here to the first time you come across one of those intricate, complex puzzles where you have no idea what the game wants you to do. But where “Myst” provides ingenious ways to manipulate the environment that make you feel like you discovered a different way to progress than the developer intended, the puzzles in “RiME” seem a bit shallow and never quite gives that sense of satisfaction. Instead, I felt more of a feeling of relief to finally be able to move on.
I will say that while the game wasn’t for me, I feel confident that there is a subset of gamers who will enjoy this much more than I did. This feels like a game for fans of games like “Journey” or “The Last Guardian”, the former a game that I labeled as the most disappointing release of its year. So take my words with a grain of salt, because there is a lot to love here, but it’s mostly with the art style and music instead of the gameplay. Even the ending has the potential to be very touching, but by the time I got there, I was too frustrated with the gameplay to really be invested in what was going on with the plot. On top of that, there was little-to-no character development, so I had very little attachment to the boy.
While “RiME” didn’t resonate quite as well for me as I had hoped, I’m eager to see what else comes from developer Tequila Works. They’ve nailed the art style and have nailed the musical score, which is composed by David Garcia Diaz. I would just like to see the gameplay fleshed out a bit more to make playing the game more fun than I had with this title.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game.