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I like to have a good memorable experience with a game. I mean, who doesn’t? If a game is too difficult or poorly designed, then it leads to a miserable experience. You end up wanting to push through to see the entire game, but not because it’s fun or entertaining all the way through. Then you get those games that are a chore or a pain to get through, but do have a lot of fun moments. This was the case with me and Two-Tribes’ last game, Rive. This was a recently released game from the long-time studio that unfortunately closed down due to poor sales of a previous game. In a way, it feels kind of awkward to be like, “yeah, your last game wasn’t consistently fun”, since the studio is now gone, but if I’m going to be honest, that’s how I felt. Why? Well, let’s get into our awesome spider tanks and find out.
The game doesn’t have too much of a story, or at the very least one that is too in-depth. You play a guy who is stuck inside a spider-style mech inside a destroyed space station. It is your job to find out what is going on, and escape a snarky little AI program. The gameplay is essentially a 2D side-scrolling platformer, where you jump, float, and shoot your way through a massive horde of enemies. You will gain new upgrades, ranging from more health, hack enemies to help you, to new weapons. You can shoot in all directions, and you will need to learn how to use all of your skills at your disposal. This game is hard, and I mean hard. It’s easily one of the toughest of 2016, including Darkest Dungeons and Dark Souls III. You will be constantly moving, jumping, and shooting. There is rarely any downtime, and you will even need to fight giant bosses with their own frustrating patterns. The game is luckily not that long, and can be beaten in about five hours.
Graphically, Rive is beautiful, with lovely 2D art that sets the mood of you being stuck inside a giant metal station with unknown mechanical horrors stuck inside the same area. The game also has a lot of personality with the different levels, a smack-talking pilot, and a very sinister non-dying robotic antagonist. It definitely helps the game stand out.
Now then, what’s wrong with this final game? Well, as much as I hate to say it, I feel like Rive leans too heavily on its difficulty. It can be incredibly taxing and tedious to get by certain boss fights, since most of the time, the difficulty comes from them throwing a huge number of enemies at you. It can reach Battletoads levels of cheap, but without the glitches. Granted, I had fun at first with how fast enemies came at me, while I moved to try and escape them, but after a while when you just want to move along, it becomes tricky to want to keep playing. I don’t mind hard games, but if the difficulty due to any number of reasons with the game design becomes too much, then I don’t want to waste my time with them. I don’t have all the time in the world to sit down and invest time into super tough games, or games that need hours to get into them. I also find the humor, while giving the game an identity, to be very generic “meta” game humor. The lead character is essentially a truck driver version of Duke Nukem where he makes all these references. I wish the bosses were more interesting as well. Now, the boss fights can be fun, but most of the time, they are just giant ships. I’d rather them go all out with different bosses instead of having me fight two large ships that count as a boss fight.
I don’t want to sound harsh, but I have to be honest. I was disappointed with this game. It can be fun and enjoyable, and I might personally not be the audience this game was aimed at, but for a final game from the studio, it should have been better. It should have been better balanced and less frustrating, and not be just about the difficulty. I really can’t see myself playing this game again, but if you are into challenging games with fast-paced combat, then you will probably want to check Rive out. Definitely wait for a sale though. It’s a decent experience, but I can tell I’m going to forget this game as time moves forward.
This game gets a 6 out of 10.