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Hello and welcome to my review of Rive, developed and published by Two Tribes
Rive is an interesting platformer that was released in 2016 but didn’t get a lot of attention. The company behind it is probably best known for Toki Tori and Toki Tori 2, though Rive is a completely different type of game tackling a new genre, the platformer.
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Rive’s graphics are actually quite good as you’re already seeing. They mostly are reminiscent of side scrollers, platformers, twin-stick shooters, and Metroidvania… though, for the last one it’s ONLY a look and not a feel.
There’s a little variety in the art style as you move through the game, and while there are quite a few enemy types, this is one of the parts of Rive that I struggle with. It’s not that there weren’t any changes to the enemies’ look, but rather that there’s an inconsistent pace, and when there are changes, they come slowly. I don’t know how often the enemies actually change but it feels like it’s mostly done once an hour of game time or so.
The world is interesting and unique and there seems to be a lot of locations, and if you watch my footage, you might notice me returning to some locations. Such as finding the warp panel here. Then later I come back to it. This is where I was talking about the Metroidvania nature of the game, but it’s not.
Instead, Rive is a level based game that heavily reuses the same locations. Often the player will explore a location, and then return a couple of hours later. There’s usually a reason to return, but it isn’t as special as returning to explore a part of the castle in a Metroidvania. There’s only one path you’re allowed to take per level, so you’re always on the tracks even on a second or third visit.
Personally, I would have loved for this to be a true Metroidvania, even if there wasn’t much exploration because then it would be my player making these discoveries rather than the predetermined path for the game’s story.
The story of Rive is that you are a scavenger who is running out of fuel and ends up finding a giant spaceship.
From here the story kicks off where you are greeted by this character, a slightly annoying Drone AI which sounds cliche, but honestly isn’t really something we’ve seen before. Well, outside of the drone being a slightly weak character. Our host just doesn’t have a strong personality. He becomes the only companion you really have in the game, and it’s the voice the game and ship you’re on uses to talk to you, mostly to complain about your current actions. However this character does have some interesting dialog that does develop over time, though similar to the enemies, it comes a bit later than it should.
Or you can just blow him up. Admittedly I did this first and had a blast killing him. The game even makes a few references to this, and it can be fun and a great way to speed up the conversation.
Outside of that, the core game is about our main character, who I honestly don’t remember if he has a real name. It’s just not used much even if he does have one. He’s trying to find fuel and something valuable that he can eventually sell. Though before long, he mostly would just be happy to escape from the ship.
That’s it, the story is a bit weak, mostly moving the character from one topic to another as another “escape plan” comes up, but this doesn’t work as well as it could. In addition, there are some game references, like this a reference to Tetris, which I get them reaching out to us “fellow gamers” but it doesn’t really add too much to the formula.
Rive’s gameplay is similar to the story and graphics. It starts with a simple side-scrolling shooting level, and the player is blasting asteroids and adds to the formula as you go. As mentioned before, this is purely a level based game. While it really feels and looks like a Metroidvania it really sticks closer to a 2d platformer with twin-stick shooter elements. There are a couple of changes of pace though with a couple of side scroller and zero-gravity segments, though, these could happen a little more often as the normal exploration segments take up a majority of the time.
One big twist to the formula is the addition of hacking. Players are able to hit the left bumper and use the Right stick to aim a hacking ray that can hack remote panels or eventually enemies. This can activate a number of features, but most will be used to get the player some extra firepower in the form of a friendly turret, or a nurse bot who will heal the player as he takes damage.
Though this is usually done outside of battle, or at least not in the center of it. Players will often be offered an opportunity to hack something in some downtime. Since players will have to switch from gunfire to hacking, the feature is less useful in the middle of battle, though there are a couple of points where players may have to juggle the two systems.
Rive also has unique controls. That might sound like a backhanded compliment and you’d be right. Grab a controller if you can. Now the left stick moves and the right stick shoots. So far, so good. The face buttons change your special weapon, the right stick just shoots normal gunfire, and the right trigger fires that special weapon in the direction of your gun. You may be saying it sounds ok.
This is where it gets odd. The Left Bumper does change your mode to hacking. However, the left trigger is the problem, where it is your jump button. This seems like it could work, though it should feel odd at first, however it’s when you have to start using the left trigger to double jump that makes the game feel strange. You have to pull the trigger twice in rapid succession for a number of jumps, and some of the jumps in the game require a decent amount of precision.
If it wasn’t for the jump button, maybe the game would feel more normal, but that left trigger jump never feels as natural as the game would require and will continue to be an oddity the longer you play.
Rive also has two difficulties, and I played through the game on hard mode for a challenge. There’s no bonus to the harder difficulty, but there’s an additional star on the leaderboards at the end of each level to tell people you beat the level on the hardest mode.
The harder difficulty made the game more frustrating. I spent over an hour on one boss, and close to thirty minutes on another section of the game and this just started to wear me down. The repeated deaths didn’t really endear me to the game, and it just seemed like there were a couple of cheap deaths.
After finishing the game, I went back and tried it on normal difficulty and found myself have far more fun. The harder difficulty isn’t significantly harder, but it pushes the game from an enjoyable run to a frustrating experience that annoys players quickly. This isn’t like a Dark Souls, where you can just git gud, it just lowers the player’s health levels and adds health to the enemies. Not an awful change, but one that I think harmed the experience.
An hour might not sound like that long to work on one section of the game, but most levels in the game are fifteen to thirty minutes long. The game itself took me close to 6 hours to beat, so spending an hour in one location is a significant amount of time, and this Mega Smashbot boss took quite a while, for example.
That’s also one of about four bosses in the game, as well, and was quite fun to beat… on normal. On hard this fight was really freaking annoying. The other three bosses ranged from an excellent final boss to a run of the mill first boss. They aren’t that special but do at least punctuate the game.
Once you’re done with the game you might want to try out some challenges, and this mode does give you something new to do after you have finished the game. There’s just one problem. Challenges unlock daily. And no, this game came out years ago. It’s unlocked daily by your time. Once you beat the current challenge you have to wait until midnight to unlock the next challenge. What the hell Two Tribes? You also locked off the arena unless people friended your steam group. This is just an odd system that really doesn’t work well.
As mentioned though the game is short, though while I normally don’t replay games, I have almost beat this game a second time, and might start a third. The game allows you to replay any mission and throws out a speed-run mode and a one-life mode as well if players want to challenge themselves. But I found the game just fun to replay as there are good and interesting moments all throughout it.
Rive’s an interesting game. After finishing this game, I almost just threw a 3.5/5 on it and called it a day, but something made me want to come back and play it again. Now that I’m almost finished a second time through, I think I get it. Rive’s not the best game or something really outstanding but rather it’s a good little game that you can replay a few times and enjoy it for what it is. The controls are good outside of that odd jump maneuver, the gameplay is fun, and while the story isn’t that special, it’s a good understandable story that pays off with a fulfilling ending.
The thing is, by the end of the second playthrough I realize I had seen everything I had seen previously and didn’t mind replaying it and redoing things I had only done a hand full of hours ago because each section of the game was interesting. That’s something most games can’t even claim and it’s what makes Rive stand out.
I give Rive a
Rive’s a fun little game especially if you grab it on sale. It’s a shame as I read up on Two Tribes for the review, I realized they went bankrupt after Toki Tori 2, a game I enjoyed, and it sounds like they stopped personally developing games again after Rive.
I get it. Rive isn’t the most amazing game, and perhaps that’s part of the problem, but Rive and Toki Tori 1 and 2 are solid likable games that just never found their audience. It’s a bit of a shame because all three games are enjoyable, something I feel that many games in this industry lack.
That’s Rive and I honestly have no idea what reviews to offer you. How about Celeste, an absolutely amazing level based game from last year that really shows how to do platforming and difficulty right. Or how about a Metroidvania, that this had me hungry for? How about Timespinner?
Until Next Time I’m Kinglink and thanks for watching.