Risk Of Rain Reviewed
By Martin Toney
This is an odd moment for me, I don’t quite know where to start. This game…is hard. Very very hard. Although it’s fair, the sheer difficulty still leaves me bothered. Dark Souls? Done it. Contra? Done it without the Konami Code. Cybernator? Piece of cake! But Risk of Rain is something else. I couldn’t handle the first randomly generated stage on Normal Difficulty.
Don’t get me wrong, the game is very fun and the pixely aesthetic is quite pleasant (as is the art that you can unlock by earning Steam Cards for your efforts) but the one thing that I found to be a major drawback, and yes it may be a minor gripe but it’s valid. The default control scheme is dreadful for this type of game and it completely took me out of the experience. Given that this is an opinionated gripe, the flaw may only be readily apparent to me. But my review system always works on how a product is delivered by default (out of the box keyboard and mouse) without additional player input. The arrow keys simply don’t fit in with modern fast paced, survival based gaming. They are fine in slower paced, dungeon crawling games like Legend of Dungeon or Legend of Grimrock but even then the player will more often than not choose to rebind the controls the more common W.A.S.D pattern. So, with essential rebinding aside let’s move onto what this game does right.
The pixel art style is a very simple style, so simple in fact that it works in the games favour. Enemies are clearly distinguishable from the environments that players will find themselves battling through. Stages come in many different shapes and styles but are always locked to the 2D Scrolling gameplay. Players will enter the game as The Commando, the games default character who makes use of ranged weaponry, a dodge roll, a piercing shot and the ability to fire in two directions for a short period of time. This makes the initial waves easy enough to handle, and once the player is used to using the dodge roll they will be executing flawless evasive manoeuvres mixed with lethal fire power and mowing down the baddies. That is, until the gauge in upper right portion of the screen goes up.
The incremental difficulty of the game is a great mechanic that puts a focus in your ability to survive, literally each second that passes increases the difficulty level. By the time it had reached Medium level, I assumed I had gathered enough equipment and items to activate the teleporter (your goal) when I was assailed and eaten by a Magma Worm. An enemy that I had not yet encountered. The battle was short, meaning I was wiped out in less than 2 seconds. This was despite being armed with mortar equipment, a healing factor, a healing droid and numerous combat buffs. Risk of Rain is definitely one for hardcore punishment gamers.
And with all that being said, the simple and enjoyable art style, addictive hard hitting gameplay and seemingly infinite replay value, I can’t help but think that Risk of Rain falls a bit short of its potential. Locking all playable characters until the player advances forces a grind against the odds until you eventually progress and the screen can sometimes become a bit too busy and hard to make sense of due to the pixelated art mixed with on screen damage displays.
Yes, I would recommend Risk of Rain. But only to a small audience of dedicated hardcore gamers looking for a skill based time sink. Ultimately Risk of Rain is a good game that was let down by some small flaws in its execution that have a knock on effect on the overall product.
This is one for the pro’s.
[follow id=”Cliqist” size=”large” count=”true” ]
[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/martin.jpg” ]Martin Toney is a career journalist inside and outside the video game industry, he has worked with Newspapers, Magazines, Radio stations and a great deal of online publications. He lives on the North Coast of Ireland where he is lucky enough to see parts of Game of Thrones getting made. Apparently it feels nice to live on “The Kings Road to Winterfell.” [/author]