I’ve played a lot of video games over the years, folks, and while most of them have been fun, engaging, well-written, and sometimes all three, there have been few capable of evoking an emotional response quite like Rime.
I know I’m late to the party here given Rime was initially released back in May of 2017, but there’s only so much you can get around to playing in a year, you know? As much as I’d love to play everything under the sun, it’s just not bloody possible. Anyway, I finally picked it up a little while ago as one of the free weekly titles Epic Games has been giving away throughout the year.
In Rime, you play as a young boy who wakes up on the beach of a mysterious island with a massive lighthouse-like structure in its centre. It unfolds over five fairly large levels, each with its own theme and environmental puzzles. There are some enemies here and there, but you never really engage in any combat with them, at least in a traditional sense.
A little magical fox guides you through the various stages, so while the layout is open in some areas, the path is fairly linear overall, but this isn’t a bad thing. While many have criticised Rime’s puzzles and gameplay for being shallow, I’d argue they’re overlooking its best qualities. Rime isn’t meant to be a difficult puzzle game, nor is it trying to reinvent the wheel. It uses its puzzles in part to tell a story, and it does this without uttering a single word, which, to me, is incredibly impressive.
There are some small cut scenes at certain parts throughout the journey which reveal more about how the boy ended up on the island in the first place. There are also a ton of visual clues scattered throughout the world which give you a sense of what happened without explicitly saying it to your face. There’s something about this kind of storytelling that taps into your subconscious, kinda like it’s bypassing your brain and conveying a message straight to your soul. You understand it because you can feel it.
Visually, Rime has a bright, cartoon-like aesthetic reminiscent of a Studio Ghibli film. It’s beautifully designed and conveys the same sense of awe and wonder movies like Spirited Away do so well. If you’re a fan of Hayao Miyazaki‘s work, you’ll know exactly what I’m getting at.
Combine all of the above with a gorgeous and emotive soundtrack, and you’ve got yourself a beautiful and unique gaming experience that doesn’t come around very often. Rime really reached into my chest and slapped my heart around, so much so I was left staring blankly at my computer monitor a good ten minutes after the credits finished rolling. So few games have given me that kind of response.
Not everyone will feel the same way about Rime, I’m sure. Maybe it’s because I really like Ghibli films, or maybe it’s because it also has elements of The Legend of Zelda franchise which I also love, but goddamn, I found it to be such a beautiful game that stands out from the regular noise.
If you wanna check it out – and you should – it’s available on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. It’s also available on Xbox Game Pass for console or PC.Image: Tequila Works