Rive Review

Part Twin stick Shooter, part Metroidvania. Does the swan song of the Developer Two Tribes prove to be a proper send off to the developer? Check out our Almost Perfect review and see what our thoughts are on, Rive.

I’m pretty sure every artist has that one piece, that magnum opus, your greatest work that often times goes for years without completion because it would be a crime to unleash it on the world before it was ready. Because of this some artists never get to see others enjoy it… they can never get to that point of “this is it.” RIVE has been a labor of love for Two Tribes for years, as they shined, polished, and shaped it into the great game that was in their imagination. As one co-founder put it, “RIVE is our last game, so only the best is good enough for it!” Two Tribes had the honor of being able to decide when it was time to close down shop and pursue other things, but before they did so they released their magnum opus, RIVE. Read on for our review.

Graphics

The first night we played this I had the opportunity to sit and watch, much like all of you younger brothers and friends who grew up playing 2P (“Always a Luigi, never a Mario…”), but it had the same benefits that it always has: 1. I was able to watch and strategize, ready myself for my turn, and 2. I was able to truly appreciate the gorgeous backgrounds that I would’ve ignored had I been in control of this twitch shooter. Remember back on the SNES when developers would use a scrolling parallax background? You saw it for the first time and went ‘oooh, that’s pretty cool,’ this looks so much cooler than that. RIVE has a pseudo-3D feel to it, accomplished with layered backgrounds. At times I counted four, maybe five layers of images which just enunciates how much love they put into this game. They didn’t just drop a plain background either, but beautifully rendered images that made you feel like you really were stuck in a gigantic spaceship. It’s almost too bad that you have to pay attention to the waves of enemies – you might miss it! Speaking of that, everything in this game moves smooth and crisply too, without lag and hiccups.

Sounds

The music in RIVE feels like a minor player, in that it’s not something memorable that I find myself humming in the shower, but that doesn’t make it horrible or out of place. You wouldn’t put on kidz bop to serenade your love, you don’t put on death metal at a religious gathering, and you don’t need orchestra music in an abandoned space ship. As for background noise, what you do get is beeps and whistles of an unmanned space ship. But that isn’t to say little effort was put into the sound portion of RIVE, this is the first (and last) Two Tribes game with voice acting and they nailed it! Mark Dodson (Salacious Crumb -Star Wars VI:ROTJ, Various gremlins – Gremlins 1 & 2) was pulled in to breathe life into our hero, Roughshot. It was a real treat listening to his one-liner quips, which were oftentimes quite clever, and made us laugh.
 

Controls

If the last game you played was Contra, or some other SNES classic, then these controls would be amazing – you can shoot in any direction, not just 8! These days any run n’ gun will let you do that, but the twin-stick portion of the controls still felt solid and smooth. At first I wasn’t a fan of using the triangle, square, X, O buttons to select your secondary weapons, then after putting some more time into getting used to it the controls worked just fine.

Overall

I loved the design and artistic elements behind RIVE, running around in a spider tank and blasting bots – why haven’t I done this before NOW? You get to upgrade your armor and secondary weapons in between levels, but the options for upgrading are rather limited. There are only 8 options and after you get those upgraded, that’s it. I would’ve liked to see an upgraded primary weapon thrown in the mix. The passively sadistic robot controlling your starship prison made the breaks in between destroying enemies enjoyable, while also adding some story elements. He (it?) reminded me a bit of GLaDOS with the dry humor and love for putting humans through various tests of torture for the enjoyment of a robotic overlord. I found myself mesmerized by the choreographed waves of enemies flying at me, then I would die, get my head back in the game, die again, probably dieagain, and after a couple tries finally figured out how I fit in to this stellar dance squad. Did RIVE toe the line between enjoyable and difficult? You start out on the menu screen with “HARD” being the only option, so prepare yourself – but RIVE is definitely a ride worth taking.

Bigfoot
Bigfoot has been playing video games for as long as he can remember, he was weaned straight from the bottle on to a Commodore 64 and hasn't looked back since. He enjoys sampling beer and hanging out with his family. A couple of his all-time favorite games are Earthbound (SNES) and Fallout 2 (PC).

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