RiME from Tequila Works, Tantalus Media, and Grey Box Games is a beautiful game both graphically and narratively. RiME leans heavily into these two aspects, meaning that the gameplay side of things sometimes feels a little oversimplified.
When I say the game is beautiful graphically, I truly mean it. The visuals are highly stylised, with a cartoonish glow to them, and this is used to full effect. The animation style graphics really emphasise the varying atmospheres of the island you explore.
From sunset beach to rainy monolith, there is a staggering variety of locales to explore. Each one feels unique while still carrying environmental threads throughout the whole experience. I was certainly glad of the Nintendo Switch’s rapid screenshot button; my memory card is packed with future desktop wallpapers.
This shine expands out to the character design as well. Although the number of characters you interact with is very limited, each one has a distinct feel to it. Their personality is inherently clear in their design.
Sadly then, this poorly optimised Nintendo Switch version hampers this wonderful work considerably. When docked, and being played on a TV screen, you do get the absolutely staggering bloom from the graphics. However, RiME really struggles to run at times which causes some visual headaches.
RiME‘s frame rate can massively drop, especially when in the larger areas. These are designed to wow you with gorgeous set-piece action. Unfortunately, more often than not, this causes the graphics to skip and crawl. I repeatedly felt underwhelmed by environmental reveals simply because the Switch skipped a beat in the scene.
When indoors or in enclosed spaces the frame rate picks up. These areas are more designed for the puzzles though, and lack the awe of the outdoor vistas.
Playing the Switch undocked oddly removes this issue, but throws up its own issues; textures become blurry and edges become sharper. The intended beauty of the game is still evident, but its impact is certainly diluted.
I also experienced odd moments of certain colours flickering when undocked. Lighting was sometimes unresponsive too, leaving me in pitch black before this was rendered.
In terms of narrative, RiME has a fantastic story line. I would highly recommend going into the game with as little information as possible. There is a huge set of reveals as you play, and piecing the story together is a massive part of the joy of this game.
The game opens with your character, a young boy, washed up on an island after shipwrecking in a storm. I won’t say much more than that, for fear of spoilers, but would like to highlight the environmental storytelling.
There is no dialogue in the game, and no written information. The island, it’s architecture, flora, and fauna do a fantastic job of hinting at the overall plot. That being said, I definitely understood the story arc much better after a full playthrough.
Looking back through the elements I couldn’t piece together on my initial playthrough was a wonder. Like the expositional moment at the end of a detective novel, everything made sense after watching the final moments of the game.
The gameplay revolves almost entirely around puzzle solving. If you enjoyed the likes of Ico, Myst, and The Last Guardian, then you’ve got a pretty solid idea of what to expect. Indeed, it was fairly easy for me to hurry through the game as the puzzles rarely presented me with something I hadn’t seen done elsewhere.
The puzzle design definitely feels like it was created with some of those titles in mind. For a large part of RiME, it teeters dangerously on the line between an homage and recreation. After a full playthrough, I think it has enough originality to satiate.
That isn’t to say it isn’t fun. I absolutely adored my playtime with RiME. Solving each puzzle felt intuitive, logical, and was never too challenging that it became a frustrating.
There are some award-worthy environmental puzzles to be found. RiME knows where it’s strengths lie, and it knows that the world around you is it’s best tool. Altering the environment, and the lighting, play considerable roles in many puzzles; these are certainly the ones that stick in my memory.
There are in-game achievements and a bucketful of collectables for the completionists out there. Thankfully, after your initial playthrough, you can select stages. The stage select screen graciously informs you of what you have left to collect.
It would be easy to over-criticise RiME for it’s poor optimisation for the Nintendo Switch. However, I think what RiME does right indisputably makes this a recommendation to anyone interested in the narrative, puzzle adventure genre.
RiME is available now in the Nintendo eshop.
Our copy of RiME was provided by the developers and publisher. Alan played around 6 hours to complete the story mode, without chasing down the collectables.