(Review) Rive

I was really looking forward to RIVE. It was for a reason that I had somewhat backwards, but the titles still looked cool. From what little I looked at, I didn’t realize that it was a twin-stick shooter and a bullet-hell. Those tend are rather frustrating to me and for a while there, that’s where I was with RIVE. (Talk about not doing your homework eh?) I ended up progressing after a lot of trial and error. How much fun is it though? Let me break it down for you.

You know, at first look, I couldn’t remember why this scene was so intense. Then I noticed the rotating blades on the left and the floor was moving me towards it. Gottah keep moving!

In RIVE you take control of Roughshot who pilots a spider-walker-drone thing. He’s a no-nonsense man who just wants to get things done. Sometimes work is serious business. Either way, Roughshot gets stuck in a giant starship piloted by an AI whom you can simply shoot and move on if you don’t care about the story. Sure he asks you to stop, but he’s a robot so it doesn’t really matter. (I do not fear the robot overlords.) Run, jump and shoot your way through the ship to get out all the while picking up scrap to upgrade you spider-bot so you stand a better chance. Upgrades include more weapons (that don’t seem as good as the starter rockets), more health and a magnetic ability to pick up loot better from farther away. Seriously though, those rockets are awesome.

Yes, they’ve included rooms of death. It’s all here!

Twin-sticks are not normally my bag. I can move, sure, but the moving the guns at the same time always lag for me. (Accuracy is hard mmm’kay?) The same issues prevail here for me only the experience is better. The right joystick doesn’t simply control the 2nd camera and points to where you will be shooting, but it is also the fire button. Whenever you are moving your right joystick, you are also shooting. This seems small, but it helped a load. The only other issue is the fact that RIVE is a Bullet-Hell and I also have a hard time with that. Jumping and double-jumping while moving in a different direction from where your shooting with all of the baddies converging on you on the screen can get very erratic. It also makes it hard to focus on the music and background art (which are rather nice), but I got a lot of time to admire the explosions because everything explodes… including me when I eat enough lead.

You can always use more explosions… always.

If there was one thing that I genuinely lament in this game, it’s not the difficulty. That’s worked around and practiced out of with some commitment. In a tough spot? Die about 12-15 times and you’ll figure it out eventually on how to jump or dodge out of a bad situation. Maybe using better timing or the use of a special weapon is called for. Either way, I may not like being stuck, but my real issue is the save-state saving in RIVE forcing it on you. What I mean by that is that RIVE will save when you get to a certain point or location once you reach it. What it saves is everything on the screen at times. You are probably familiar with this form of saving if you’ve ever played a Call of Duty game that saved just as you reached a door with five health and then got shot up and died so when you spawned, you had five health and then died again. This happened to me once on a boss boat surrounded by lava and a giant flaming bolder above me with a butt-load of missiles aimed at my rump. I eventually got out, but that is never a satisfying thing to load into time after time. Maybe it was a fluke for me, but I really didn’t appreciate it.

This boat is a horrible boat. The only thing I like about this boat is that I finally left it.

In addition to that, you can choose to make the game harder by default if you choose a harder difficulty setting. There are challenge modes, battle arenas and a speedrun mode. (Gosh those sound like horrible ideas for me to endure; good luck everyone else!) One mode that I had to try out was the Copilot Mode. In Copilot Mode one player controls Roughshot’s ship and another controls the gun. It’s a rather cool mode and a very neat approach to adding a two-player mode compared to other approaches I’ve seen lately. I like the setup for the most part except for one thing. There is a hacking mode where you’ll change the screen green and your gun will no longer shoot, but will attempt to hack enemies that you have “unlocked”. The problem is that I feel this is heavily tied to the shooting and should stay with the person doing the shooting, but in Copilot Mode the driver initiates it. With time, this would probably work out, but in the heat of the moment it feels very clunky. Even if you want to explain it away with a “coop mode requires great cooperation” argument, I would still not agree.

The more time I played RIVE, the more I grew to enjoy it. That’s not to say that I will now try all of the Shumps/Bullet-Hells out there, but in the end, I enjoyed my time with RIVE. I still maintain that it isn’t for me though as it can be (and it is for me) rather difficult and that’s not what I look for in games. (I haven’t seen a death-screen this much so often in a while, and here I am thinking of picking up the Mutant Mudds Collection…) I’m more of a “make challenges for myself” rather than have the game just be “ball-kicking” hard. If it’s a shooter, I try to melee other people. I did something similar in GRP. RIVE is a cool game and cool-looking as well. The inclusion of “Copilot Mode” in the Switch makes this the definitive edition of RIVE and while this may not be my jam, this is the version that is the most fun for me.

Further Reading on RIVE: Facebook / Official Page / Twitter

Love it or hate it, let me know!