RIVE PS4 Review
Publisher: Two Tribes Developer: Two Tribes Genre: Action/Platformer
Players: 1 Age Rating: 12+ Other console/handheld formats: N/A
There are a lot of things in gaming that just don’t exist in reality, and some of these things really are a Godsend. Take dying for example, if you die in the real world, you aren’t able to press a button to resurrect yourself in order to try again in the same way that you can in a game, and in RIVE restarts are massively important.
Dutch developer Two Tribe’s gaming swansong is a concoction of action and platforming in which you take control of a spider-like tank inside of an abandoned spaceship. Taking place across 12 missions with brief intermission sections, the game is explosive and intense, and it also offers a tall challenge to anyone brave enough to face it. The steep difficulty level of the game means that the default mode is actually called hard mode, so it goes without saying that plenty of frustration can be expected from the off.
It’s not as if RIVE is a completely unfair game though, as that’s not actually the case at all, although you may very well find yourself repeating sections time and time again before you are able to overcome them. The game does have a large number of checkpoints, it takes more than a single hit to kill you, and if you die a hundred times (which is very, very likely), soft mode unlocks, which makes the game slightly easier, although at the cost of halving your score at the end of the level. With that said, if you are chasing high scores, then soft mode isn’t for you, but if you are having difficulty making any real progress and just want to see as much of the game as possible, this little option may just be your best friend in the entire game. Once unlocked, soft mode can be toggled on and off at any time.
RIVE’s difficult nature doesn’t only come from its army of enemies, but it’s also often in the way that the action is presented to you. This is a game that frequently forces you to multitask, as there are often lots of enemies to fight off as well as obstacles to contend with, all thrown at you at once. As frustrating as the game can get at times, RIVE’s brand of action is nevertheless a brand that is rarely uninteresting, and it certainly keeps you on the edge of your seat at all times.
The game uses the twin-stick shooter control scheme, which allows for 360 degree fire. Your Spider Tank is equipped with a machine gun that boasts unlimited ammo, but you also get access to a number of secondary attacks. There are four of these in the game, and you’ll unlock them by accumulating currency and making use of it at the upgrade station between levels, and you can also upgrade your armour here as well.
Secondary attacks include homing missiles, a shotgun, bouncing mines as well as an electrical attack, and when you have more than one installed in your tank, they can be switched between with a button press. Unlike the machine gun, these attacks are limited, which means it’s best to be more selective as to when to make use of them. If employed at the right time, the secondary attacks can get you out of some really tight spots.
Another thing that can help you get out of some tight spots is your tank’s hacking ability. You are able to hack certain enemy robots, and they’ll then fight beside you as long as they manage to stay in one piece; some attacking enemies, and others healing you. I like the hacking feature, although perhaps there could have been a bit more strategy to it, as it’s basic in the way that you rarely get any choice as to which enemy to hack. Even when you have four or five options at your disposal, there’s rarely any opportunities to hack more than one type.
Back to better things, and the game has a number of references to popular classics such as Asteroids and Tetris, and there’s actually a pleasing enough amount of variation, which keeps things from growing stale. When the tank isn’t walking around on dry ground, it’s floating in zero gravity areas or walking under water. It really does feel as if the game has everything, although none of it feels as if it has been forced into the game just for the sake of being there.
If you do manage to complete the campaign, a further two gameplay options are unlocked: Speed Run and Single Credit modes. With one mode tasking you with getting through the game as quickly as possible and the other only allowing for a single death, both modes are obviously aimed at the more advanced player, although if you manage to abstain from switching on soft mode, then you may very well be an elite player by the game’s end.
Being that it’s their final game, Two Tribes went all out to try their hardest to make RIVE the best game that they have ever developed, and this has also resulted in the gaming having plenty of personality. Effort has gone into everything from the visuals to the dialogue and music to make sure that the game isn’t one that could easily be forgotten.
Visually, RIVE has plenty of character. The game has an attractive cartoon-like art style, and the little tank you take control of is charismatic thanks to its animations. The game often also has plenty of things going on at once, which means that the explosive action is pleasing on the eye.
When it comes to its storyline, the game has personality thanks to its sense of humour. The bearded protagonist that is Roughshot coolly and cheesily wisecracks his way through the game, and I always looked forward to whatever he might say next. Other than its sense of humour though, the story never really goes in-depth, with the focus definitely being on the action. Lines of dialogue can also begin to get repetitive after awhile, particularly if you are forced to repeat a section over and over again.
Due to its mammoth difficulty level, RIVE is not the type of game that will appeal to everyone, but it also must be said that its skill-based gameplay rarely feels completely unfair. The game does have a generous helping of checkpoints, although that doesn’t mean that you won’t die many times, and it’s definitely a game that calls for swift reactions and the patience of a saint. When all is said and done, Two Tribes’ final title may turn out to be an excellent game with pleasing variety for those who have the patience to stick with it in the way that I was able to, but others will be turned off by the amount of frustration that may be experienced from as early as the second or third mission, with the game rarely allowing you to pause for breath during many of its heavy and brutal action sequences.