Today’s video game world is a beautiful one. Next gen graphics and unique ideas from indie developers have provided us with some of the best looking games in years. Unfortunately, many times a game’s beauty will only be at the surface level. These games are like that big house in the oldest neighborhood in town: it looks nice at a glance, but once you look inside you see all the roaches and cracks. Rime is beautiful to look at. As for the game itself?
The game opens with an interesting premise: a young boy, shipwrecked alone on a mysterious island. The player takes control of the this youth to solve a series of puzzles in an attempt to figure out what has happened. While this is an intriguing start, Rime never lives up to its initial promise.
A common complaint is that today’s games have too much hand holding, and Rime takes the opposite approach. There is normally only one path to get from area to the next. The game’s semi open world is comparatively small and invites exploration, so a map marker would only defeat the purpose.
Regrettably, this lack of hand holding is also one of the game’s biggest problems. The clues provided in order to progress are not well done. The protagonist eventually gets a companion that gives slight hints, but they are also unreliable. Sometimes, the player’s new friend will point directly to the next puzzle while other times they will not be near it. As adorable as the pathfinders are, they become more frustrating than helpful. There is no skill involved in Rime and it is impossible to “git gud.”
The irony is that the puzzles are incredibly simple and tedious. Normally, progressing in an adventure game means increasingly difficult puzzles, but challenges in Rime are as difficult in the final hour as they were in the first. This simplicity prevents any sense of advancement and fun.
The story is also unimpressive. The opening will stir some curiosity and the ending does have an admittedly surprising twist, but little else happens. Rime is supposed to be an engaging tale about the relationship between a father and son, however the lack of storytelling leaves the player unmoved by the ending revelation. Rime is proof that a touching story is not necessarily a good one.
For all its faults, Rime does have its strengths. The setting and music are relaxing, making it the perfect game to play after a long day, and while there are some frustrating moments, it is also pressure free. Its cartoon like graphics and easy puzzles may also attract younger players that find find Zelda or The Elder Scrolls too complex. There is definitely an audience for Rime.
The developers appeared to have put all their resources into production as the game looks and sounds beautiful but the gameplay and story are negligible with little else to offer. There is some enjoyment to be found here but ultimately Rime has lots of style with little substance.