Review: RIVE (PS4)

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Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One (TBD)
  • Wii U (TBD)
  • PC, Mac, and Linux

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV
Title: RIVE
Format: PSN (984.1 MB)
Release Date: September 13, 2016
Publisher: Two Tribes Publishing B.V.
Developer: Two Tribes
Original MSRP: $14.99 (US), €14.99 (EU), £11.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
You play Rive through the eyes of Roughshot, a gruff space scavenger who winds up trapped in a very large and seemingly abandoned starship. In control of a double-jumping spider tank that can quickly aim and fire an assortment of weaponry, you must find your way out.

Not only can the sleek little spider tank shoot in a 360-degree radius, but it can be upgraded with some special weapons and armour. It can also hack enemy turrets and health bots to temporarily aid in the escape. Heck, you can even hack a train. I’m not exactly sure why trains are needed on the dusty old ship, and more importantly, just how big is the hulking mass for them to be needed?

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Allow me to digress slightly as I neglected to mention the main menu. In an almost trolling way, the only option available is a hard mode. While this gives some insight into the difficulty of the adventure that awaits, it seems redundant to say the least.

With the speedrun and single-credit modes greyed out until you unlock them, your only real choice is to play. After an interesting and novel way of introducing Roughshot and how the game is played, you set off on a quick asteroid clearing section that reminded me off a few classic space-shooting games from years gone by.

… I just cannot seem to get to grips with the controls …
That blast from the past is over all too quickly and you are then trapped in the aforementioned large ship with an eccentric butler that harasses you along with many enemies to dispatch. They bombard your little spider tank at every turn and you quickly find out what dying in Rive feels like. The little on-screen comment that usually relates to how you died is inventive and funny, at first anyway.

Slowly but surely, you grow to resent the little quips and jibes. The many deaths resulting from the lightning fast swarms or tank shattering impacts from trains and pistons makes you want to scream. Infinite continues mean you eventually learn the patterns and placement of each object of destruction and make your way through the ship.

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The gameplay is silky smooth and very refined but I just cannot seem to get to grips with the controls and speed at which the attacks occur. What drives me crazy is that the controls are not complicated and they make sense. I just cannot seem to wrap my head around them and often die because of it.

Take for example the gravity bubbles that sometimes appear in a few levels. When your spider tank jumps or falls into one, it can fly around as if floating in space. To reach the next bubble or platform you need momentum. So you have to take a run at it, so to speak, and launch yourself out. I often totally miss the mark and fall to my death.

… a fast and frantic platforming shump that looks great, if a little repetitive …
Double jumping, the thing I have done in countless games over a few decades seems to be a little finicky and temperamental. Although I managed to reach the last level after about six hours, after another death because the suicidal enemies left me no room to avoid their onslaught, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t having any fun.

Rive is not a long game and could probably be completed in one lengthy session if you have the dexterity and stomach for it. Without the countless and sometime unfair deaths, it would probably be a much shorter and enjoyable endeavour.

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Visuals:
A myriad of enemies swarm all around the screen, bullets and explosions fill the area with fire and smoke, all the while the PlayStation 4 doesn’t even wince. The developers at Two Tribes have succeeded in making a fast and frantic platforming shump that looks great, if a little repetitive.

The action is exhilarating and frenetic but slowly loses its charm with every death your cute spider tank endures. There are a few great looking areas and moments in the game but it isn’t long before you feel like you have traversed that same set of pipes for the fifth time, only to appear right back at the same boring point.

… many gameplay elements work well, just not for me …
Audio:
Prepare for a robotic harmony of machine noises, playfully intriguing instruments, and sounds that parallel the mysterious surroundings at just the right tone. The clatter of metal parts and casings litter the cold steel as a stream of infinite bullets ring out of the little tank and slam into the countless enemies.

Then some narration by Roughshot or the butler spoil the moments of calm and the attempts at comedy fall flat. Mark Dodson performs well doing the voice work but the writing begins to grate, especially when you’ve had to listen to some of the same remarks due to several unfair deaths.

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Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Rive works so well on many levels and marries a few different classes of the shoot ’em up genre to make a fun and challenging game for a very particular style of gamer. I just happen to not be that kind of gamer. It almost wants to be too difficult for me to enjoy.

The developers have done a good job overall. It looks great for the most part and many gameplay elements work well, just not for me. What begins as a humorous and action packed combination of platforming and shoot ‘em up slowly curdles into a repetitive slog. I know that sounds extremely contradictory but I know there is a good game here, I just cannot seem to find it.

Score:
6.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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