There are a lot of games I love that will never receive a sequel. Playdead’s games like Inside and Limbo are brilliant adventures but those titles will never have a followup (and – unless you get to play as Inside’s blob – probably shouldn’t receive one). Team Ico’s games like Ico, The Last Guardian, and Shadow of the Colossus are works of art but those games are also complete stories and will never receive a second installment (though they are fated to be endlessly remade). Journey is also a perfect gaming experience but, again, we’ll never see a Journey 2. Rather than building a franchise of titles, games like these instead create spiritual successors that capture the elements of those experiences. I don’t expect to ever find sequels to these games but I am always looking for games that try to provide that same sense of wonder. Rime is definitely one of those games.
Rime will feel instantly familiar to most gamers. Your hero looks a great deal like Ico, moves very similarly to Link (minus the sword) and – much like Limbo – is largely defenseless most of the time. Fortunately, there are very few dangerous enemies on the island with you. You spend much of the game exploring a strange, beautiful world that reminded me a great deal of Firewatch and The Witness. Frequent flashbacks hint at a shipwreck that led to your stranding; that mystery unfolds slowly over the course of your adventure. Mysterious characters help you along your way, including the cutest fox you’ve ever seen in any game. Again, there’s no real combat but there is quite a bit of platforming; fortunately these sections are forgiving and never terribly challenging.
Rime has a lot going for it. The music is really excellent. Gameplay is well designed; Rime is one of the best platformers I’ve played in some time. Your path is very intuitively detectable and you’ll discover the right direction without actively seeking it. If the design somehow fails, there’s that iconic orange fox who often appears to show you the way. Even swimming portions are more fun than frustrating with plentiful air pockets and easily navigated hallways. And, if you do somehow pass away, reloads are pretty quick. Beyond that, the game has just enough weirdness in it to be memorable. Creepy ghosts start popping up around the island but seem more scared of you than you are of them. Early on, you also discover an enormous bird with an attitude problem and later find some strange robots with a mysterious purpose. Like the games it emulates, Rime builds on its basic gameplay with some interesting variety throughout the game.
Familiarity breeds contempt, and Rime’s familiar gameplay and design may have led to some reviewers to score it lower than it deserves. Ultimately, the only real complaint I have about the game is how most of these elements have been done better elsewhere. The world is well designed but not as memorable as Ico’s. The ending is poignant but not as striking as Inside’s. The overall experience is impactful but not as impactful as the titles that inspired it. The other issue some may experience is the lack of any real difficult puzzles; most everything you encounter can be solved fairly quickly. Find a locked door? There’s a key or two in the immediate vicinity. Reached a dead end? Line up a shadow on the wall and see if that opens a door. Puzzles are varied and mostly interesting, but gamers looking for a challenge might be disappointed.
THE BEST PARTS
Rime is beautifully designed with varied worlds, great music and solid puzzles. If you liked Journey or Ico or Limbo, you’ll probably like Rime.
THE WORST PARTS
Rime is a somewhat brief experience and – like every other game I’ve mentioned in this review – may have limited replayability for some (though there are some collectibles to be found!).
OVERALL: PLAY IT
While not pioneering, Rime is still fun. If you like any of the games I mentioned in this review, I think you should check it out. I’m not sure the game’s $30 price tag is justified, but if you see it cheaper (or on Gamefly), you should check it out.