Rime and Reason
Rime takes place in a quiet, mysterious world (that just might have a hint of danger!), contains no spoken dialogue, stars a young boy and his mystical animal companion, and has an ambiguous story that will be left up to interpretation. When the boy jumps, his arms flail about like he’s trying to fight a million bees at once. There’s a little bit of platforming tied into environmental puzzle solving. It’s a very familiar game, is what I’m getting at here.
Don’t misunderstand, Rime takes these familiar indie tropes and executes on them very well. The mysterious island in Rime is a desolate paradise that toes the line between inviting and unwelcome. It’s a world I was more than happy to spend time exploring. I’m actually more interested in poking at this island’s history than I am solving the game’s puzzles.
If you’re all the way done with the indie puzzle-platformer, nothing I saw during my time with Rime will convince you to return to the fold. But if you believe there’s still gas left in this particular genre, you should find something to like in Rime‘s breezy “Greek-islands-meets-Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons” world.
During my PAX South demo, I only saw a couple highlights from Rime‘s story — one set of puzzles from the game’s first level and the opening moments of the second. In the first level, I was finding ways to amplify my voice, as the young bobble-headed protagonist’s shouting activates mystical jade statues that, more practically, are just levers that activate parts of the environment. This is one of many aspects of Rime that reminds me of Journey, a game where your chimes were your primary method of interacting with the world.
There were a few moments during the opening sequence where I had a little trouble with the puzzles, on account of only sleeping three hours the night before, but the Rime team jumped in to help. After seeing the solution, I feel pretty confident in saying that I could’ve gotten the solution on my own. The demo did a fine job of letting me poke at its mechanics, providing enough visual information to convey what I needed to do and how far along I was in the process.
Early on in the demo, I had to fill up a pool with water, but my voice was only powerful enough to activate one of the three necessary jade statues. The game told me I had to look elsewhere for a solution by having the one jade statue fill the pool about a third of the way, only to have the water drain out when I activated a different jade statue. That scene told me that I had to activate all three at once, but also prepared me for a puzzle where I had to activate a series of jade statues in a certain order. It taught me how the jade statues interacted with both my voice and each other.
There was also a neat little puzzle where you had to manipulate the game’s day/night cycle to get shadows to line up with certain parts of the world, but that mechanic only appeared a handful of times — it was far less prevalent than the jade statues, although I was told time manipulation would be a regular part of the game. Perspective manipulation will reportedly be a major theme of the mechanics, although the Rime team was a little cagey when I asked if that would be a theme in the story as well.
Once I moved onto the next stage, I found myself running from a bird in a mask, ducking between spots of cover as I made my way towards a tower that would allow me to kill the bird. I’m always down for variety in my video games, especially in a puzzle game like this, but keeping players from exploring the second major area until they deal with a crummy stealth section where you have to both hide in the shade and solve a puzzle is a bad idea. It was tonally inconsistent with the things I had been doing up to that point, and felt more like busywork than anything else.
I can see a place for Rime in my life. I’ll likely play this game curled up on my couch on a cozy Sunday afternoon, some kind of inebriate coursing through my veins, as I let the game’s sun-bleached world wash over me. If the very sight of this game turns you off, there’s nothing about the moment-to-moment gameplay that will change your mind. For the rest of you, if there’s room in your life for another indie puzzle/adventure game, you could do a lot worse than Rime.