Thanks to Two Tribes for the review code
Title: RIVE: Ultimate Edition
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 11/17/2017
In this action-platformer, you take control of a pilot operating a small robot, who finds himself on a strange ship that’s filled with all sorts of hidden dangers. Now you must help him escape while also finding out the secrets behind the place he’s in!
RIVE is stunningly fast, and that’s the first thing the game does a good job of showing off from the get-go. Everything runs at a nice 60FPS and the visual effects look stunning, even in the Switch’s handheld mode! The menus are and enemy designs do look a bit basic in comparison to the gorgeous visual effects that are shown with backgrounds and locations, (With a lot of stages making great use of lighting to set the mood or location) and overall the game looks excellent no matter how you play it. There’s also some solid voiceovers for the limited dialogue this game has to offer, which does a good job at accompanying the game.
Kicking off the campaign, the controls for RIVE are easy to grasp, with the game controlling somewhat similarly to a twin-stick shooter, not unlike the BLEED games, with the ZL button being your jump, the ZR button being your special weapon, the R button being a hacking beam while the face buttons equip your special weapons. In no time at all, it should be very easy to get used to the game’s control scheme as you go through the campaign and continue to shoot down everything in your path, progressing through the stages and defeating bosses along the way, merging the usual control scheme of a twin-stick game with traditional platformer stages, also akin to BLEED. (Although there are a few stages where you can freely move around in the air in some capacity, like classic horizontal shooters)
During your journey, you’ll find bolts that defeated enemies will drop, which can be spent at the end of a stage on upgrades for your ship, including more subweapons, (such as a handy grenade or shotgun) extra health, and new skills that will be carried on for the rest of the campaign, giving the game an extra bit of progression, complemented by how one stage leads to the next right away, with no automatic returns to the main menu whenever you clear a stage, meaning that if you’re in the mood, you could just keep going through the stages one after another with little interruption.
It’s a good thing that the game lets you go through these stages one after another, too. The stage design is surprisingly varied for a game that’s meant to take place entirely within one ship, and while every stage does have a mechanical vibe, there’s some variety to be seen in these stages. While one stage may have you in a boring series of metal tunnels, the next might have you deal with avoiding lava, followed by a stage that requires balancing within electromagnetic orbs, then a stage where you have to ride on trains and avoid getting smashed, leading to a lot of fun. The good news is that when you die, you respawn not too far from where you usually died, although you do keep the current health and items you had at the time, which means you might end up getting stuck if you’re in a very tough battle scene and none of the enemies feel like dropping special weapon ammo or health. Still, this doesn’t really happen that often, and the game keeps going at a good pace.
Outside of the main campaign, RIVE also has two bonus modes worth checking out. The first is a Challenge mode, where you must complete certain objectives in a time limit that varies depending on the rank of the mission, starting from bronze and going up from there with each clear of the mission. (So one mission may give you 120 seconds to complete it on bronze, followed by 90 on Silver, 60 on Gold, etc) The sad part about this mode is that it seems to love having the player wait an in-game day to unlock the next mission, (at least, if they clear the previous one with a bronze/silver medal. I haven’t been able to get a gold yet as these Gold Challenges can get pretty tight, but I doubt it would change the requirements if I did complete one) which is a bit silly considering how the short and simple nature of this mode doesn’t really seem like something that requires locking the rest of the challenges behind a wait time to do so, especially since the other optional mode of the game, an Arena Battle mode has all the stages unlocked from the getgo.
All of the modes in RIVE feature online leaderboards where you can go after the scores of your friends and those all around the world, which brings us to the last mode to discuss, the aforementioned Arena Battle. In this mode, the main goal is simply to survive for as long as possible while infinite waves of enemies swarm after you. It’s nothing but your weapons and the enemies as you go for the highest scores, and this mode is by far the easiest to pick up and play due to the quicker nature of it, leading to this being a good mode to use if you want to practice the game’s controls after a few months of not playing the game.
In conclusion, this version of RIVE is by far the best one, containing every achievement from the other versions of the game, along with a length single player campaign along with some bouns challenge modes for you to take on if you’re bored. Add that to the minor features that the Switch offers such as HD Rumble and the usual portable play, and this is a very fun action platformer, even if it can get a bit tough to adapt to. The only real fault of this game I could find is that some of the stages can get to be pretty long, but luckily you can just exit from and come back later. I give RIVE: Ultimate Edition an 8 out of 10.