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A beautiful but shallow puzzle-platformer that’s a bit too derivative.

On the surface, Rime is a gorgeous, melancholy adventure of a lone wanderer in the similar fashion as memorable games like Ico, Journey, or The Witness. But just under that layer of beautiful art, mysterious locations, and wonderful music, is a game with very few new ideas. Instead, almost all of its puzzles are shallow and ultimately uninteresting versions of things we’ve seen and done in other, better games.

Rime’s basic premise is simple and familiar: you wake up on a magical island after a shipwreck, and have to solve a variety of environmental puzzles over the course of the six-hour adventure to piece together just what the heck happened. Your nameless adventurer character doesn’t have a ton of personality beyond looking like a cross between Ico and the main character of Journey, but your guide through Rime is little magical fox who’s just about the cutest critter ever. He doesn’t do a whole lot, but he helpfully points you in the direction you should go in – which I found especially useful in knowing where not to go if I wanted to explore everything in an area before progressing.

As you jump, climb, and swim across the beautiful and varied world, you’ll complete rudimentary tasks like collecting keys, moving crates, and carrying around battery-like orbs. Those puzzles generally feel more like household chores than challenges you actually have to think about, and rarely have that much-appreciated “aha!” moment of revelation. The only exception are a handful of hurdles that involve interesting uses of light, shadow, and perspective.

But even when I was bored by what I was doing, I never got tired of looking at Rime. Each area of the island is beautiful in its own right, brimming with color and style. Much like the island in The Witness, Rime’s dreamlike art and architecture made spending time in the world a joy, and the absence of a HUD meant that every frame of my adventure was enjoyable to look at. That said, the lack of cohesion between the four areas makes the whole thing feel like series of separate levels, as opposed to a single place with a real sense of identity. You leave a lush, green forest, wait through a load screen, and suddenly emerge in a sun-drenched barren wasteland, with no transition in between. And while you can wander a bit off the beaten path in search of various collectibles, these never reward you with more than a JPEG on a menu screen.

While I enjoyed exploring the world in an aesthetic sense, I wasn’t so keen on some of the design and performance issues. Even though the art style is fairly low-detail, the framerate became choppy on a pretty regular basis on PS4, even during cutscenes. The camera seemed to occasionally get stuck in strange places, particularly in underwater swimming segments. And I found myself far too often having to complete banal climbing challenges that required no critical thinking to solve the problem.

I have to admit that the mysterious allure of Rime’s story definitely had me hooked, though, and I was compelled to see what was at the end of the winding road. While the payoff wasn’t quite as satisfying as the endings of some of Rime’s clear inspirations, I appreciated the open-ended nature of the world and its inhabitants for allowing me to come up with some of my own answers. But at the end of the day, neither those questions nor the answers were enough to make Rime a memorable experience after the credits rolled.

The Verdict

Rime’s superficial beauty and interesting mysteries provided enough enjoyment to make me willing to put up with its shallow and familiar elements under the hood. While nothing about Rime is necessarily bad, you can find more interesting versions of nearly every single element of it in other, better games.


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