Updated 23/02/2018 17:00pm – Review revisited based on Patch 1.02 and score updated
Original Review: 11/12/2017 16:22pm
Just when one developer nails an open world adventure, another comes in with previously unfathomable evolutions.
In that same vein, RiME takes the very best of games like Shadow of the Colossus, ICO, The Last Guardian and Journey, and produces a spell-binding, enriching adventure that will stay and last with you.
However, within minutes of booting it up on Switch, that seamless, silky smooth experience suddenly chugs, stutters and stammers. Honestly, it’s heartbreaking.
Because RiME is the perfect title for Switch. The wondrous exploration, unravelling clues, solving mysteries, piecing together the beautiful environmental tapestry. It’s all on you to figure out what’s going on, how to reach your destination, and what your destination and objective even is.
RiME doesn’t spell anything out or making anything easy for you. You get washed up on shore and tasked with exploring the luscious, luxurious world at your own pace. Eventually, you meet a clever fox and together you work together to learn more about where you are and how you got there.
And RiME really is pretty. Even in handheld mode, you can see TequilaWorks have got their world building and character development down to the finest detail. The unique visuals have been painstakingly grafted over for hours on end and it really shows as RiME is a game that looks both polished and was a source of pride for its team.
But it’s also a living and breathing world, structured by a day and night cycle, which in turn affects the responses of assets like the wildlife and nature, to the physical with key changes and new scores in the soundtrack. In that regard, RiME is masterfully designed.
As with others in the genre, RiME is made up of the basics. You can walk, run, crawl, crouch and shout as you climb between ledges, and discover the true nature of your abilities. But rather than relying on combat to drive the game forward, you’re instead faced with puzzle-solving. Solutions can be likened to an Uncharted or The Witness in that they require quick reflexes, but also thought and consideration outside of a knee-jerk reaction or gut feeling.
Still, the command function can sometimes show a bit of a mind of its own and be a bit slow and sluggish to respond. The camera can also be a bit rebellious at times, particularly when near a wall or structure.
And while RiME does feel like an open, involved, and inviting game, the adventure can be all over when you least expect it with some areas not as accessible as they may first appear.
The big issue, however, is performance. As touched upon previously, RiME truly is hard work on Switch. The same issues actually caused the game to be delayed previously and apparently were considerably worse earlier this year. A worrying statement because, at times, the lag can be so bad that the game actually plays itself through delayed control presses and you’re forced to wait for things to settle. I’d like to say the situation improves when it’s docked but, sadly, it doesn’t.
It’s very clear that TequilaWorks have had to make significant sacrifices and changes to RiME in order to get it in a semi-playable state on Switch, but then when you see other, more data-intensive titles play fluidly on the system, it does raise some questions and concerns about this particular development process.
Ultimately, though, RiME is a delightful experience with plenty to absorb and enthrall you, wherever you choose to play it. And while the portability of Switch makes it great for short bursts, perhaps this is one better played elsewhere.
Notes from Patch 1.02
We rarely do this anymore, purely because one patch can only fix so much. And if you take into account a year or so worth of updates, a game has changed so much from the original version that it’s basically like a new release. But this patch deserves credit because Greybox and TequilaWorks have given RiME a dramatic shot in the arm for the better.
It’s not perfect, there are still slight hiccups and stutters, but for the most part the issues with the unplayable frame rate are gone. RiME is more responsive, the action flows well, cut scenes blend better, and you’re in full control of everything happening on the screen. And somehow, amazingly, RiME on Switch looks better for it. No more of this blurred colour palette, instead you’ve got sharper outlines, more defined character models, improved textures. This is less of an update as it is a metamorphosis, the differences are night and day.
To pay for that, though, the loading screens do seem a bit longer so you’ll be waiting around for a while. It’s easily got the longest loading times of any game I’ve played on Switch so far and that’s including data intensive titles like Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 and LA Noire.
In short, this is still not the definitive edition of the game, and Greybox probably should have dropped the price a little bit to coincide with the update to entice more people to pick it up – especially with the better version of the game on PS + this month – but this patch has completely changed the fortunes of this title, from completely avoidable and unplayable, to becoming one of the better action/adventures on the platform. As such, we have updated the score and given it an extra point to acknowledge that.
(Current Score) 7.5 out of 10
Tested on Nintendo Switch
Based on Patch 1.02
(Original Score) 6.5 out of 10
Based on Patch 1.01
+ A beautiful and captivating world
+ Intriguing puzzle solving and character development
+ Well developed world building
– Game borderline unplayable at times and has not ported well to Switch
– Awful frame rate and lag
– Some serious camera and control issues