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Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (477)

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Pikmin 4 4/5
No Man's Sky 4/5
Dragon Quest Monsters: ... 4/5
Assassin's Creed IV: Bl... 2.5/5
Tiny Tina's Wonderlands 3.5/5
Ratchet & Clank: Rift A... 4.5/5
Super Mario Bros. Wonder 4.5/5
The Alliance Alive 2/5
Catmaze 4.5/5
Turnip Boy Commits Tax ... 4.5/5
Seasons After Fall 3/5
Rayon Riddles - Rise of... 0.5/5
World to the West 4/5
MechWarrior 5: Mercenar... 4/5
Streets of Kamurocho 2.5/5
Aeon of Sands - The Tra... 2.5/5
Greak: Memories of Azur 3.5/5
Yaga 2.5/5
Riverbond 3/5
Bug Fables: The Everlas... 4.5/5
Front Mission 1st Remake 1.5/5
Middle-earth: Shadow of... 3.5/5
Bladed Fury 3.5/5
Ruzar - The Life Stone 3.5/5
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin 3.5/5

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Rayon Riddles - Rise of the Goblin King   PC (Steam) 

First Flop of the Gollum Developer    0.5/5 stars

“Rayon Riddles: Rise of the Goblin King” (“Rayon Riddles”) is the inaugural effort from German-based Indie developer, Lost the Game, better known more recently for their work on the 2023 disaster, “The Lord of the Rings: Gollum,” which is in the running for WORST game of the year. While Lost the Game has been hard at work honing their craft since the release of “Rayon Riddles” in 2016, it doesn’t look like they’ve actually learned anything.

“Rayon Riddles” is built in the Unreal Engine… and that’s pretty much the only thing it has going for it, visually. The artistic “style” features a variety of goblins and orcs (and trolls) who are intentionally designed to look like toy action figures, complete with articulated joints, possibly as an excuse for the absolutely horrible character animations. Regardless of intent, the concept art and hand-drawn cutscenes show some glimmer of talent in the art department that completely failed to transfer to the 3D models. Environments are large, aimless, cluttered, and generally look like something a young child would come up with in any user-generated-content-driven game.

Audio is really the game’s only decent presentational facet, with a pleasant classical soundtrack that sometimes gets too dramatic for its own good and makes it seem like something’s about to happen… but, no, it’s just that part of the canned background music track. The game lacks dialog between the characters in general, going with crude pantomime instead for… effect, I guess. However, the story and action are all narrated by an invisible Englishman with a generally pleasant voice, reminiscent of Stephen Fry’s narration of the ‘LittleBigPlanet’ series… but there’s no way Lost the Game could afford Stephen Fry!

Technically, though, is where the game absolutely falls apart. The opening logo for Lost the Game doesn’t play in the normal game window, but instead pops-up as a separate non-full-screen window before launching the actual game. The game itself crashed on me the moment I started trying to play the first stage, but I was able to proceed by restarting. While these crashes-on-load seemed to get better for a while, upon reaching the game’s 5th stage, I suddenly found myself unable to continue playing, as the game crashes after loading EVERY time. Aside from the horrible performance and game-breaking crashes, though, there is actually an okay basis for a student project, here. The game includes native Xinput support and swaps on-the-fly between keyboard and controller UI prompts. It autosaves reliably, too… but the stages themselves are devoid of any mid-mission checkpoints, meaning that crashing during a mission (which I never actually experienced) leads to plenty of repetition. In-stage gameplay is also plagued with situations where the characters can get “stuck” in world geometry or otherwise screwed-over, but at least there’s a suicide button to respawn nearby with no penalty other than missing an achievement for not dying while completing a mission.

“Rayon Riddles” attempts, unsurprisingly, to tell the tale of the rise of the titular Goblin King, whose canonical name is Hung Ree… which is pronounced “hungry,” but spelled in such a way that I expect him to have a huge penis and autism. The King is held prisoner after his entire tribe is enslaved by orcs, and it’s up to his underlings to return the King (and his gigantic penis/autism) to glory.

The player is thrust into the roles of three such goblin underlings, with creative names that describe their abilities: Tech, Heavy, and… I don’t know because the game gave up on me before I could get the third one. Tech’s ability is the comprehension of blueprints, which can be used to combine two or more objects into something completely different at a workbench. Heavy, on the other hand, is strong, and can lift heavier objects than Tech.

The game’s narrative tone is kind of mixed, as if it can’t make up its mind whether it wants to be slapstick humor or early-childhood entertainment. However, even if it’s not stellar, it’s at least inoffensive, despite its lack of character development and characterization.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how long “Rayon Riddles” actually is. It took me about 2 hours to get to the fateful 5th Level where everything went to pot technically, and I don’t know how many levels there actually are. I can say, though, that I didn’t give up on the game, it gave up on me, and I would have kept playing if it was actually functional.

“Rayon Riddles” is a rather modern take on old-school Adventure games. You remember those, right? Click every item in your inventory, then click every object in the environment until you randomly jump onto the AmTrak Hell-Train of logic the certifiably insane designer was riding when he assembled the puzzles.

Fortunately, “Rayon Riddles” isn’t quite as bizarre and manic as old-school Adventure games were. Even better, nearly every obstacle presented in the part of the game I was able to experience has multiple approaches and different workable solutions. The goblins can only carry one item (each) at a time, and can further enlighten the player as to possible solutions by “looking” at objects for a narrated description.

Honestly, I’ve played many Adventure games that were MUCH worse from a design and mechanical perspective. I feel like I only got a glimpse of “Rayon Riddles,” and I would have liked to see the extent to which the gameplay could be stretched, but, alas, Broken Game is Broken, and that’s the end of that.

As someone with an affection toward goblins and the kings thereof, I was actually looking forward to this game when I bought it for $3 back in 2017. Unfortunately, the team at Lost the Game really lives up to their broken English name: They managed to completely screw up the Unreal Engine to create a non-functioning pile of code that stops working at the 5th stage. From what I saw, “Rayon Riddles: Rise of the Goblin King” could have been an innocuous first-effort with tolerable narrative and gameplay elements. But it JUST. DOES. NOT. WORK. Thus it gets the final score deserved by all broken games that will never be fixed.

Presentation: 1/5
Story: 2.5/5
Gameplay: 3/5
Overall (not an average): 0.5/5



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