Wednesday, September 6, 2017

If Icarus was a game

Oh yeah, I played RiME, Tequila Works' attempt at making Ico. It goes about as one would expect. The game isn't terrible, parts of it are in fact quite moving, but it is missing that special something that made Ico, and to a lesser extent it 'sequels', unforgettable experiences.

Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian all had two things that RiME lacks: a gimmick and a definite sense of place. Perhaps gimmick is the wrong term. Maybe hook? Ico was one long escort mission (that somehow was not terrible), Shadow of the Colossus had a tiny little man against skyscraper sized monsters and The Last Guardian had Trico who was perhaps better in concept than execution. These are hooks that the player will remember forever: escorting Yorda or stabbing the first colossus in the head or desperately trying to get Trico's attention.

All three games also created a very real feeling of location. I am not talking about size, as Shadow of the Colossus dwarfs the other two, but a mental sense of where you are in the world. The architecture and locations in Ico and The Last Guardian made sense. I could tell where I was in the castles most of the time. Likewise the never ending plains in Shadow of the Colossus had a focal point: the giant altar thing that Wander returned to after each kill.

RiME has none of that. The hook, if there is one at all, is that you are playing a boy who wakes up on an island and does not know why he is there. He occasionally seeing a man like shape wearing a red cape in the distance that he tries to follow, but that is it. In Ico the puzzles served a purpose. In RiME they are simple there to impede. Puzzles for puzzles sake.

The game also switches between locations that are not apparently related. At first the keyhole tower is the focus but when you get there it branches off into more abstract areas that will not make sense until after the big twist reveal (that I will not spoil). In the moment they can be interesting but never investing because you do not know why you are where you are. Solving a riddle is not compelling when there is no reason to care about the riddle or its solution.

RiME isn't bad, it lacks focus. It is also plainly based on Ico, a game that none have matched. Four plus years in development was still not enough.

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