Oh RIVE, we have such a volatile love/hate relationship don’t we? After just a few levels I was seriously enjoying you, but then the crashes came and everything changed. Why RIVE, why?
Let’s start from the beginning, RIVE is a side scrolling twin stick shooter where the player controls Roughshot and his mech. He stumbles upon an abandoned star ship, and with the possibility of loot, he dives in head first into what will turn out to be an adventure full of danger, comedic lines and death. So many deaths. You see, RIVE’s single player can only be played on hard, and they really mean hard. Everything wants to kill you, and they certainly have numbers on their side. You will quickly find yourself staring at a screen full of enemies, and you’re just there hoping for the best, trying not to die. Again. Thankfully the game is pretty forgiving, providing plenty of checkpoints, so when you do die you will restart relatively close to where you died. You will grow to be very appreciative of this. RIVE boasts it’s a 360 degree shooter. I take a slight issue with this, sure you can aim in any direction, but except the space sections, which is far and few between, you are not utilizing the full 30 degrees.
The game is unapologetic about being similar to many others that came before. The game is most like Mega Man, with the player jumping around fighting large amounts of enemies as well as fighting a handful of bosses. By defeating these bosses, you get hacks that helps you turn the tide on the enemies by hacking certain robots to aid you. The game features an impressive variety of enemies, each with their own unique feel and tactics to fight them. Both of these features are very similar to the aforementioned game. RIVE also has moments directly ripped from Asteroids and Tetris. The game does this knowingly and pokes fun at it. RIVE also has a metroidvania feel to it, with parts of the game being blocked off until the player gets a particular hack found later in the game.
The usual mechanics seen in these type of games are found here. For example, the game features a score multiplier, loot bonus, time bonus and a rank, both among your friends and globally. The game also features a small amount of upgrades for players to spend their precious loot on. The game could do with a few more upgrades or at least improve the ones they currently have. I often found myself only using one of the power attacks (missiles) as it was the most powerful and every other power attack felt like a weakened version of it. These weapons can be used everywhere in RIVE except the underwater sections. RIVE switches between inside the ship, out in space and underwater throughout the game, but you will find yourself mainly indoors. The underwater sections are the least fun areas but thankfully the least used as well.
RIVE has a very nice and fun feel to it. It’s slightly self-aware, the game makes references to pop culture and other video games such as Asteroids, Doom and Tetris. At multiple points Roughshot breaks the fourth wall. On one such occasion, he points out how the scene he is in feels very familiar to another video game and all the best artists steal. There’s plenty of talk about video games to be found here, as the AI on the space ship taunts you as you fight through all of his creations. The characters even talk about the level and art design. Personally I found the games design to be great, the platforming is fluid and the enemy placement is fair. At no point did I feel the game was unfair, even when the screen was littered with things trying to kill me. The art is beautiful, it fits the game perfectly and I often found myself stopping to admire the scenery. RIVE also has plenty of nice touches, such as the bugs crawling around that spurt out green blood/guts when stepped on or the fire effects on the lava. Clearly the game had a great deal of time and care put into it.
So it’s all sounding mainly positive so far, I was really enjoying myself. But then the game crashed. I shrugged it off, it happens right? But then it did it again, and again and… well you get the idea. If that wasn’t bad enough it would put me backwards in the game after it crashed. Pretty far as well. For example it would crash multiple times in mission 7 and it would put me back to the start of mission 6 when I restarted the game. It’s not like that’s where the last checkpoint is, when I died during mission 7 it would put me back relatively close to where I died. It didn’t just do this in mission 7, it did it throughout the game. Towards the end I realized the game saved you exactly where you were when you quit. I kept quitting to make sure my progress was saved in case the game crashed. I became very paranoid. It took me almost twice as long to complete the game as it should have, and if I am honest I started to get bitter towards the game. I knew it was just going to crash no matter what I did. I lost count have many times I have heard the main character speak his lines as I replay a level, hoping that this time the game wouldn’t crash.
It’s a real shame RIVE suffered technical issues, because if it didn’t, I would have loved this game and been willing to give it a high score. I just can’t score it high in its current state, it would be a disservice to you the reader, no matter how much I would love it if it hadn’t been for its issues. I genuinely hope the developer, Two Tribes, fix the issues. If so, I would definitely go back and reply it, especially as the game offers two modes to play once the campaign has been completed, a one life mode and a speed run mode. Two Tribes are also offering free bonus content post launch, so the game is worth holding onto, it should have a high replay value. But until the issues are fixed, I will hold off attempting its bonus modes. So until then I have to give it a lower score then I would like. If you are reading this months from now and Two Tribes have fixed the issues, which I am unsure they will do as this is their last game before they retire, then the game is a solid 9, but in its state I must score it lower. Such a shame.
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