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Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (395)

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Indivisible 3/5
Final Fantasy XIV Onlin... 2/5
A Total War Saga: Troy 3/5
Stardew Valley 3/5
Soulcalibur VI 4.5/5
Owlboy 3/5
Battletech 3/5
Bloodstained: Ritual of... 3/5
The Legend of Zelda: A ... 4/5
Hob 3/5
Assassin's Creed Odyssey 4.5/5
Ittle Dew 2 4.5/5
Luigi's Mansion 3 4/5
Xuan-Yuan Sword: The Ga... 3/5
Star Trek: Bridge Crew 3.5/5
King's Quest: The Compl... 3/5
Strange Brigade 4/5
Metro Exodus 3.5/5
Evoland Legendary Editi... 4.5/5
Evoland 2 4.5/5
Burokku Girls 2/5
Finding Paradise 4.5/5
To the Moon 4/5
Marvel: Ultimate Allian... 2.5/5
Valley 4/5

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RiME   PC (Steam) 

Oh, Look, an Indie Art Game!    2.5/5 stars

“RiME” is the third game by Tequila Works, a Madrid, Spain-based Indie developer that previously made a critical splash with time-loop-murder-mystery, “The Sexy Brutale,” and prior to that produced a ‘Survival Platformer’ in “Deadlight.” With their third game, Tequila Works promised “exploration, puzzle-solving, secrets, and enchantment,” which, combined with the game’s visual stylings, made the entire affair seem like a 3D ‘Zelda’ clone, which is what I was expecting going in. Unfortunately, “RiME” is very much NOT like ‘Zelda,’ but is actually more reminiscent of Sony’s “Shadow of the Colossus” and “ICO,” the former of which I did not enjoy and the latter of which I did not play because I did not enjoy the former.

“RiME’s” strong point is easily its presentation, which is spectacular across the board. Built in the Unreal Engine, “RiME” is replete with gorgeous cell-shaded visuals that are strongly reminiscent of some of Nintendo’s most visually stylish games. Everything in “RiME’s” world is visually striking, with excellent use of color and environmental layouts to subtly push the player’s eye where it needs to be. This kind of subtle cueing is necessary, as “RiME” is also one big experiment in HUD-less game design, with no bits of artifice or chrome between the player’s eyes and the game world.

Unfortunately, even the most gorgeous games can have visual flaws, and “RiME” has two minor ones. First, with the default settings, “RiME” will auto-select a type of anti-aliasing (i.e., jaggy smoothing) that absolutely kills the framerate on anything but a supercomputer. Fortunately, this quirk is easily fixed by switching to either of the other two anti-aliasing options, which look just as smooth and clean, but don’t bottom out the framerate. Second, the game’s camera is fairly horrible, and reminiscent of those found in the various ‘first attempt’ 3D games that cluttered the 5th Generation.

Audiowise, “RiME” is also excellent, though with an odd intentional choice thrown in. The soundtrack is a beautiful, evocative affair that perfectly complements the visuals, themes, and setting. However, “RiME” is unvoiced. No, let me rephrase that: “RiME” has no dialog. The game is essentially a silent movie, with the only sounds spoken by any characters taking the forms of yells, humming, or barking. I understand that it’s an intentional choice to create a dialog-free game in order to communicate ideas without the barrier of language, but ultimately, “RiME,” would have been better without this gimmick.

Technically, “RiME” initially forced me to buy it on GOG instead of my preferred storefront, Steam, because the Steam version came with Denuvo DRM, which was reportedly tanking the framerates and performance with hundreds of thousands of unnecessary DRM checks. Fortunately, Tequila Works removed Denuvo from the game after it was cracked by pirates, which only took about a week. Oh well. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have bought the game anyway, because the Epic Games Store gave it away for free at one point, so even the deeply-cut price I paid was ultimately a waste of money. Other than the DRM and storefront issues, “RiME” is a solid modern game, with no crashing or glitching, native Xinput support, reasonable load times, and all the rest.

“RiME” is the story of a young Boy who finds himself washed ashore on a mysterious island after a terrible storm at sea. Because “RiME” is an unvoiced and un-narrated experience, we don’t learn anything about the Boy’s situation as players, nor do we learn anything about the island or the situation at large that the Boy himself doesn’t know. Which is to say: Nothing.

Setting out from the beach, the Boy soon stumbles across some mysterious ruins and discovers that many things on the island react to being yelled at. Upon yelling at a number of glowing statues, the boy frees a mysterious Fox from a statue prison, and quickly forms a relationship with the animal. Which is to say: The Fox runs ahead and barks to alert the Boy/player where to go next, if they’re too stupid to figure it out on their own. They Boy and Fox also encounter a mysterious Figure in Red, whose cloak matches the Boy’s own tattered remnant.

The Boy and the Fox eventually make their way through four increasingly gloomy regions of the island before reaching the end, which features a very self-satisfied plot twist that isn’t particularly interesting, original, or sensible. Which is to say: “RiME” ultimately seems to take a lot of inspiration from the TV show “LOST” when it isn’t taking inspiration from “ICO” and “Shadow of the Colossus.”

Ultimately, “RiME” is a very short game, clocking in at less than 10 hours for a first-time playthrough by a slow-poke being careful and looking for secrets, with very little payoff. The major plot twist isn’t handled particularly well, revealing the entire game to be an allegory, yet somewhat nonsensical. “RiME,” sadly, falls victim to the tropes of the Indie Art Game quite hard.

While it looks like a fairly typical 3D Action/Adventure game, make no mistake, “RiME” is just an Adventure, with very little Action to be had. The Boy trudges slowly along a fairly linear path, which is dotted with simplistic puzzles to solve. These token progress barriers are never particularly interesting or original, and because of the Boy’s incredibly limited repertoire of skills – he can run (slowly), jump, do a pull-up, carry an orb, pull levers, dive, and yell at things, in addition to a ‘Souls’ inspired dodge-roll that NEVER COMES INTO PLAY AT ANY POINT – have obvious solutions.

Really, the only thing that might engage the player’s brain at all while playing “RiME” is the constant need to scour every nook and cranny for hidden collectibles. There are quite a few of these hidden off the beaten path, but, unfortunately, only one type of hidden thing actually DOES anything, adding a minor, barely-perceptible change to the ending cutscene.

“RiME” is a gorgeous but mind-numblingly boring and tedious affair that falls victim to its own Indie Artsiness. The vague narrative-free narrative is pretentiously nonsensical, while the bare-bones gameplay makes the argument that “RiME” would have been better off as a short film than a videogame. Ultimately, I can’t help but wish for a mod for this game that reuses the map, but plops in a bog-standard ‘Zelda’ clone gameplay framework. At least that way it would be unoriginal and fun instead of unoriginal and coma-inducing.

Presentation: 4.5/5
Story: 2.5/5
Gameplay: 2/5
Overall (not an average): 2.5/5



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