Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
RiME has been around on other platforms for awhile, and while the Nintendo Switch version of the game doesn’t really bring a whole lot new to the table, it is still an enchanting adventure worth undertaking if you happened to miss it previously.
At its best, RiME tugs at emotions, making you care about the young boy who serves as our protagonist. He wakes up in a beautiful but strange world filled with massive ruins and a variety of roaming animals. Yet stretching out over everything else is a single ivory tower that waits for your arrival. There are periods of time where it might be out of sight, but never out of mind as its mysterious presence serves as a singular goal that coaxes you deeper into the world to solve puzzles and discover more of the story through uncovering secret items along the way.
If you are a fan of more ambiguous adventures like Journey, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from RiME, though they play out as very different games. Just so you know where I am coming from, I absolutely adore titles like Journey and Ico. I find them beautiful and thoughtful diversions. They tend to be shorter games, as is RiME, and they have their flaws, as does RiME, but at the end of the experience I found myself happy with the time I spent.
The pacing of RiME is a slow one, especially in the initial world where I found myself simply taking in the environment. Pet a random animal, listen to the leaves rustle and continue forward through the environments that have some lightweight, fairly easy puzzles that add the game element to this video game. Generally speaking, you are sliding things around or putting items here and there as needed as you slowly figure things out and advance. Death is not a real threat here – you might fall off of a platform or get attacked by a strange predatory bird that shows up now and again, but the setback is minimal as RiME is more focused on seeing you continue through the journey than becoming frustrated by the game’s challenges.
Perhaps the one area where RiME falls short in this regard is in just how abstract everything is. Most of the puzzles are easy almost to a fault, yet a handful did take a decent amount of time to figure out. Unfortunately this had less to do with challenging puzzle design and more to do with a small detail in the environment that probably could have used a bit more attention drawn to it, some obscure item that is slightly frustrating because it feels more like bad design than a true challenge. Thankfully those puzzles are more the exception than the rule and thankfully it is hard to stay upset with these rare occurrences when the visuals and audio working so well together to create an almost meditative experience.
Despite the bright visuals you are presented with early in the game, RiME has some darker themes if you are paying attention. This is not a game that hits you with walls of text or hours of voiced exposition, but instead has you exploring worlds that stand apart from one another both in theme and presentation as the environments and tale slowly being told becomes darker – both literally and figuratively.
The pacing and the lack of hold-holding are likely not going to be for everyone. Like the aforementioned titles, RiME is more interested in creating an experience and one that I found enchanting and thought provoking in a unique way. It is far from perfect, as the gameplay really doesn’t grow or change much throughout the game, revealing a somewhat shallow set of mechanics that are pretty much the same at hour five as they are in hour one. Still, outside of this lack of gameplay development and the occasional obtuse bit of puzzle design, RiME is a a memorable experience despite its relatively short run time and worth playing if you have missed it to date.Score: 7.5 / 10