A few years back, I watched the trailer for Rime. I remember being enthralled by the visual style and the gameplay shown off; like a mix of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker meets Ico or Journey. It was on my radar for quite a while and seemed to disappear. Finally, last year it was confirmed it was going to finally be released by Tequila Works, but not just on PlayStation 4. Earlier this year Rime released on PS4, Xbox One and PC, however the Nintendo Switch version was delayed until November, almost a half a year later. I’ve managed to hold off on playing it until now, so it was a joy to experience Rime fresh without any knowledge of the story or the game in general. However, the game has some bumps and a few issues that really kept me from fully enjoying it. Nothing completely game-breaking but frustrating nonetheless.
Rime is a 3rd person action-adventure game, that does share some similarities with games such as Ico or Journey, where there is minimal dialogue and somewhat obtuse storytelling. The game is about a boy who washes up on a mysterious island, and he has no clue how he arrived there. Eventually you are joined by a mysterious little fox who helps guide you, and a red cloaked figure that you can never quite reach. You control him as you run, jump, climb, carry items, and most importantly, yell at things. The island is broken up into four areas, however they often felt a little disjointed, and not just like a whole cohesive island with some areas, but it felt as if you were controlling a character in a game going from zone to zone. Regardless they are full of hidden secrets and puzzles galore to be solved.
The core of the game is most definitely revolved around puzzle-solving. Rime eases you into this with some fairly simple puzzles, things like moving blocks or carrying items from one location to another. As the game progresses you do have a more diverse assortment of puzzles: some of my favorites being the light manipulation ones. However in the end, most of them are pretty easy, and you can sail through them without much difficulty. There is a decent amount of exploration though, and lots of climbing and scaling areas to be found. I always enjoyed it when the game offered me some new areas to explore, except I wished that I had a bit more control over the climbing and that it felt more fluid and less choreographed.
For the most part, your character, the young boy, controls well. He has some great movements in general and reactions to environments that he is in. The controls are also pretty tight which of course is needed in a game where there can be some platforming elements. The camera in the game also works wonderfully, and Tequila Works really need to let other developers know how to set a camera and how to get it to swing just right to not obscure things, and also show off the world. When it came to controlling the boy though, that’s where I had issues. Not that that there was any trouble controlling him, but it had to do with some pretty intense frame-rate dips. It seems that especially when you are perhaps entering into a new area, the game can suddenly just chug, and the frame-rate really starts to go from decent to really bad. More then a few times, when I was doing a platforming part and had to navigate some platforms, it just so happened that the game would start to struggle, and then as I was still trying to go a direction or turn, I would just fall to my death. Thankfully, the game autosaves constantly so it was never the end of the world, but it got annoying early on and continued as the game went on. This is both in docked and handheld by the way; it didn’t seem to matter which way you played, the game had some serious frame-rate issues.
As for the visuals of Rime, well it is indeed a gorgeous game. The areas on the island do look wonderful, and the game does seem to be aesthetically a distant cousin to Wind Waker and Journey. The various sections on the island, the flora and fauna, the animals, the blue sea, and even the day-night cycle all look wonderful. The cycle of day to night is something I was not expecting and one thing I really welcomed. The game is very pretty in the daylight, but when night time rolls around, and the sky is full of stars, the game looks that much better. The soundtrack is also full of stellar instrumental pieces, and sometimes I just liked to take in the vistas and listen to the music. As is with many Switch games though, there is a difference between playing docked and in handheld mode. In docked, the game looks great and really pops visually. Playing handheld though, the colors seemed to be a little bit faded and there would often be some weird visual effects around the boy. His character model looked a bit rougher, with some jaggies, and running through dirt left some odd particle effects around his feet that weren’t really noticeable on the TV. The game is still fine when playing in handheld mode; it’s just a shame that it doesn’t seem to be as vibrant as on the television.
In the end, Rime is a very solid action-adventure game for the Nintendo Switch, and one that will give you a good ten or so hours of playtime. The story is a little obtuse, and the ending did require a bit of contemplation after I was done, but it’s one that will stick with me like the story in Ico or ABZU even. While the framerate issues were a little bothersome, I was still able to enjoy the adventure that Rime offers the player. If you are a fan of action-adventure games like Journey or Ico, then you definitely should check out Rime and explore the secrets of the island with your trusty fox and your Nintendo Switch.
A review code for Rime was provided courtesy of Tequila Works for the purpose of this review.
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