You play what appears to be a scavenger in the far future. Upon awaking up, you find your ship is running out of fuel and that you are approaching a massive space station. Your mission is to find any good loot, get fuel and get out. Standing in your way are drones of all shapes and sizes out to get you.
Rive's gameplay is a side-scrolling shooter/platformer. The game will switch between flying around and maneuvering on the ground. While you can buy upgrades and can hack drones to help you, Rive is not a metroidvania-styled game. Sections are broken up by linear chapters that sometimes have a boss at the end of them.
There aren't any puzzles in Rive. The challenge comes in with surviving arena fights and getting around the variety of obstacles thrown at you. As an added bonus, the game tracks your score and has global leaderboards for how well you get through the game.
For a studio that is primarily known for puzzle-based games, Rive is a great example of action design. The challenge of the game is all about dealing with the enemies in a variety of situations.
One section has you fighting with a collapsing floor; another has you dealing with threats both under and over water. The variety helps to keep you engaged while dealing with a small, but dangerous cast of enemy robots. The controls were very responsive and you could play it either via keyboard and mouse or gamepad.
The developers were clearly having some fun while writing the game. Rive's hero talks about how this whole feels like a video game.
Rive may be the last hurrah of Two Tribes, but it's design is very much a look to the past of classic action games, which may be the only problem with the game.
Keep on Shooting:
Rive's formula is that of an old school action game with modern day graphics. While the game is structured well, it does start to feel repetitive by the final quarter of the game. The ability to hack drones was a nice touch, but you can only have one drone active at a time. It would have been awesome to have a small team of drones and going up against the massive number of enemies.
The upgrade system was nice, but the special weapon system made it hard to really play around with them. The reason is that ammo is universal, and you can only have one round for your four special weapons at a time.
Once you found a special weapon that works for you (for me, it was the homing missiles), there's no real reason to switch or try another out.
The game's linear campaign also makes it hard to return to it. You do unlock one life challenges and a speed run, but this kind of game definitely begs for a harder mode with new enemies.
Out With a Bang:
While it's too soon to talk numbers, Rive is a fantastic throwback to classic action games. The feel and challenge levels were well done; something that's hard to get right for a lot of action games. I don't know if the game's success will be enough to keep Two Tribes going or not, but if this is the end of the studio, then they are definitely going out on a high note.
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