Hello everyone, and welcome to Late to the Party, a series in which I discuss video games that I’ve finally gotten around to playing. As much as I enjoy games, it’s rare for me to experience them right when they are first released. Normally it takes me anywhere from a few months to a few years to get around to playing to a game, and because of this I’ve got a considerable gaming backlog that grows every year. From time to time I’m able to chip away at that backlog and whenever I do so I like to write about it in this series. Today I’m going to tell you about Rime, a deceptively simple exploration game with a lot hidden beneath the surface. Rime is best enjoyed with as little foreknowledge of it as possible, so today’s writing piece will be intentionally short on details and all images are from the first section of the game.
I believe I first saw Rime in 2013 as part of a sizzle reel trailer of various indie games that were coming to PlayStation. During that trailer there were a few brief seconds of a game that sort of looked like Ico but with The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker’s art style. “Wait, what was that?” I almost said out loud. There were lots of interesting games in that trailer, but Rime was the one I looked into afterwards. Developed by a Madrid-based studio called Tequila Works, Rime ended up taking until 2017 to finally come out, and when it did it got mixed reviews with some outlets scoring Rime at around 6/10 while some others scoring it at around 9/10. I wasn’t sure what to think of such a wide disparity, but I still wanted to give Rime a try and this year it was one of February’s free games for PlayStation Plus subscribers. Last month I sat down to play Rime, and let me tell you, I think this game is good.
Under a clear, sunny sky, a boy awakens on the shore of a mysterious island. Who is he? How did he get here? What is this strange, magical place? Rime is one of those games that doesn’t tell you at the start what’s going on, but leaves it to you to explore the world and piece together the story on your own. With no text or dialogue, things are unclear at first and you’ll just be working your way across the island, not knowing what everything means, however with careful observation of the environment you’ll slowly start to see the story Rime is trying to tell you. A bit over halfway through the game was when things started to click for me and I began to understand what was so special about the game, but Rime still hadn’t played its entire hand. Near the end of the game Rime delivers a series of emotional blows, culminating in final, massive one that drops the last puzzle piece into place and reveals the truth of everything you experienced in the game.
To find your way to that truth you’ll be exploring the magical island the boy finds himself on, with a fox spirit as your guide. Though it initially has the appearance of an open-world game, Rime is actually very linear and you’ll have to solve rudimentary puzzles to advance to the next area of the island. These puzzles unfortunately are Rime’s biggest weak point, as none of them are all that complex or rewarding. A similar thing can be said for Rime’s collectibles, which do give an incentive for you to search every nook and cranny on the island, but themselves are often not interesting. As you venture from one region to the next, you’ll likely get strong Ico and Journey vibes, and I even felt a touch of that old classic Myst as I was running around the island, though Rime never fully rises to the same level of depth and intrigue as any of those games. That said, Rime is still a beautifully realized game and its simple but colorful art style that makes up for any lack of detail in the environment, and it has a great soundtrack to boot. Occasional framerate drops and gameplay issues mar the experience a little, but never to the point where the game becomes unenjoyable and you’ll hardly remember them by the time you finish the game.
At the end of my six-hour playthrough of Rime I was a little befuddled as to why it gotten some of the negative reviews that it did. The common criticism that I read from the naysayers online is that Rime is overly derivative of other games, and I would agree with that argument if it were derivative of bad games. Rime, however, is trying to emulating some of the best games ever, and even though it doesn’t quite capture the magic of games from developers like Team Ico or Thatgamecompany, Tequila Works made a valiant attempt at it and the result is a good game that I’d recommend to anyone who enjoyed the games it draws inspiration from. I’d score Rime as an 8.0 out of 10, and I might even be willing to entertain the thought of giving it an 8.5 out of 10. This game was a long time coming, and I’m glad to see it turned out as well as it did.