Ever since the days of Prince of Persia, 3D platformers have attempted to replicate the fluidity of walking along walls, games such as Assassin’s Creed or Mirror’s Edge have somewhat accomplished this, albeit from a first person perspective rather than a third person one in the case of Mirror’s Edge. Rising Islands inspiration is clear, and, its crying shame that the game is just not quite far along enough to really nail the fluid movement that its striving for, the main game mechanic of shifting dimensions in order to progress is interesting, but ultimately not well implemented enough to be anything other than frustrating.
The visuals instantly reminded me of The Legend of Korra all the way down to the design of the main character Hairo who has the aforementioned ability to shift from dimensions that are handily colour coded throughout the levels. This mechanic is actually pretty neat in theory, and it forces you to think about how you progress across the floating islands, when it does work, it is very satisfying to pull off, particularly during the latter stages of the game where you will be switched back and forth constantly as you run up and across walls, or have to land on a specifically coloured platform, speed is the key here.
Unfortunately, whilst developers Lone Hero Studios clearly want you to maintain a sense of speed throughout the levels, it is nearly impossible to maintain this without dying constantly, there is a noticeable delay between the button presses when you switch dimensions and whilst this isn’t much of a problem in the earlier levels. Later on in the game it makes the game beyond frustrating and I can’t help but feel that this is a potentially game breaking annoyance for some.
The camera is also pretty poor, it feels far too floaty and the controls otherwise are pretty unresponsive, in particular when using a keyboard and mouse rather than a gamepad, as such I have to recommend that you do use an Xbox controller when playing this game if you want to avoid some of the more frustrating issues with the controls. Thankfully the game does feature a checkpoint system, which you will need to use, a lot, though the placement of said checkpoints is a little hit or miss with frequent bugs appearing such as check pointing right before a drop or in a place in the level that makes it impossible to progress.
And bugs are very apparent throughout this game unfortunately, aside from the aforementioned checkpoint bugs, the game is frequent to crashing and freezing up, as well as falling through the level and Hiaro not recognising when she is supposed to be wall running. These issues could perhaps be patched out before the official release on 2nd August though, and whilst the game is certainly rough around the edges the bugs are necessarily game-breaking, even the checkpoint system, whilst annoying, you can restart the level completely in order to progress.
Graphically, whilst the stylised visuals are nice, nothing feels particularly high quality and the cartoonish nature of the games looks may appear quite cheap looking to many, sound design is pretty standard and nothing to really write home about. Optimisation on the PC is decent, aside from the previously mentioned bugs, but with limited options to really tweak your experience and, as I said before, it’s really recommended that you use a controller rather than a keyboard and mouse whilst playing.
I really wanted to like this game, the game mechanics, at least in theory, seem sound, the visual style is interesting, and running across walls is almost always fun in any game. However, Rising Islands is far too unpolished to be considered picking up. The movement is fluid as heck when it works, but far too often it is let down by unresponsive controls and a wayward camera. As I said previously these issues may be fixed when the game is fully released on the 2nd August though, but with it being less than a week away the developers would have to work fast to get this game up to an acceptable level of polish. Whilst it may be a fun game to pick and play on a whim, the overall experience of the game will leave you frustrated, and wishing that you were playing remaster of the PS2 Prince of Persia Trilogy instead.
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