Rising Islands is an interesting game; it certainly grabbed my attention as 3D platformers have become somewhat of a rarity in video games lately. Even rarer is both the fact that they are indie games, as most indie games go for an easier art style than 3D graphics, and the idea that an indie game could implement it well, which attracted my attention. Enter Rising Islands, an indie 3D platformer from new developer, Lone Hero Studios. The game itself is somewhat of a mixed bag, with plenty of promising potential, but also various disappointments more made apparent by the glimmers of potential I could see below the surface.
Rising Island‘s story is rather simple; the game’s protagonist is found by two Guardians who give her the power to move in-between dimensions. They do this because their Elder Guardian has taken all the artifacts and absorbed their power from the temple. There is no stated reason for the Elder Guardian doing this, but it seems to be a standard evil plot. I wish the developers had put a little more effort into the story, as I am not even sure if the character I was playing had a name. Most of the characters don’t seem to state any names and there are only 4 that I can remember. The only one ever stated with a name was the villain, and even then the other two Guardians only referred to them as “Boss.” This is a little disappointing, as the main character is given a simple “save the world” mission right off the bat, but I will let it slide as it just serves as a backdrop to the setting and game mechanics.
The main mechanics of Rising Islands are moving in between the two separate dimensions, one being blue, and the other being red. This can be used for platforms that can’t be accessed unless you’re in the correct dimension, or for avoiding obstacles that only appear if you are in that colored dimension. The base mechanics themselves are pretty simple, but the way they have been implemented are pretty clever as you move along in the game, getting more and more advanced until the end. This led to some moderate challenges and tests of skill. I did, however, find the controls to be glitchy in some places and imprecise in others. I think these problems could be improved but seeing as this is the developer’s first game, I am implied to cut them some slack. I can only think of one or two places I became a little frustrated because of imprecise controls, although I never got overly mad. I could see them revisiting these mechanics in the future and doing a lot more with them.
The graphics themselves are rather impressive for an indie developer, especially since it’s a 3D platformer game and those often require the most work out of any other game genre. The landscapes are pretty and the graphics have a light cell-shaded style that works for it, although the game was set on the lowest graphic settings by default so it didn’t look that impressive to me until I realized this and turned up the graphics. Although, on the higher settings I then experienced frame rate drops due to poor optimization. So while the graphics can be pretty, you might have to sacrifice them for playability, and that is simply only detrimental to the game itself.
The music in the game isn’t revolutionary, but it isn’t bad either. The soundtrack varies and is neat to listen to, although I found myself tuning it out after a while as no tracks really grabbed me like in other games. It’s mostly orchestral music, and really fits the settings that you play in, although like I just stated, it does suffer from “background music syndrome.” You will probably find yourself tuning it out after a while, but the tracks themselves aren’t to blame for that.
The game’s length was also called into question as well, as I completed the whole game with 100% completion in what Steam has recorded as 2 hours of in-game time. While I think some of that was due to my history of platformers, I also think that the game is a little short, with only 3 worlds and 5 levels in each. I think if the developers make a sequel then perhaps they should expand on the levels a lot more and just use less of the unique mechanics over time in favor of using each type of platform and obstacle in more unique ways.
The game is currently priced at $8.99/£6.29 as of this review, with the normal price being $9.99/£6.99. I think that if you’re a fan of 3D platformers and are willing to help a new developer out, it’s a nice purchase, and will keep you occupied for a few hours or more, depending on your skill level. I think it’s worth it for fans of the genre. However, if you aren’t a fan of platformers in general, there is nothing here that is going to change your mind and that is ok. It’s a decent first attempt for a new studio, and I look forward to seeing more of Lone Hero Studios in the future and hopefully see them grow as a developer.