RiME (Switch) Review
RiME is a beautiful adventure experience in colour, sound, and narrative, but is somewhat diminished on the Switch.
In what has been a rarity for Nintendo’s newest console, RiME is arguably the most compromised port to date. Unfortunately, various technical concessions severely hamper the experience – especially when played in handheld. Frame rate issues aplenty and a poor visual resolution make for an unpleasant time in what is an otherwise very pleasant game.
Visually, RiME on the Switch tries to dazzle with its vibrant locales, but it suffers when untethered from a television display. While in handheld, the game runs so far below native resolution to the point of being blurry and uncomfortable to look at for any extended period of time. At first, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but no, RiME looks downright bad on the portable mode. While docked on the big screen is a vast improvement, the game still lacks total sharpness. Texture edges appear slightly jagged, and the variable frame rate especially when moving the camera is an eyestrain.
Visual performance aside, RiME does many things well. Bearing more similarities with the likes of Journey than any Zelda title, RiME offers a touching tale about a young boy marooned on a mysterious island. Any further details would spoil the adventure and the main narrative themes. What the game excels at is non-verbal communication. Nothing is explicitly explained: where to go, what to do, or who anyone is. Instead, RiME offers many subtle visual clues to gently guide the player into making their own discoveries. Winding beaten-down paths, foreboding ancient artefacts, and ominous temple openings all provide an incentive to explore the unknown. Cleverly, this non-verbal communication instils the childlike sense of wonder shown by the young protagonist.
Without combat to spice up proceedings, RiME relies on various puzzles and navigational challenges to add flavour to the gameplay. Many of the puzzles within are reminiscent of last year’s The Witness, including many variations of object manipulation and alignment puzzles, minus the steep difficulty. While these puzzles are never challenging enough to agonise over for ages at a time, they are still satisfying to complete and retain an adequate level of variety to avoid tedium.
Complementing RiME’s powerful sense of adventure and discovery is its sublime soundtrack. Composed with a mix of strings, piano and choir vocals, the music swells and crescendos with perfect timing to heighten emotional moments, while fading into the background where appropriate.
Unfortunately, as strong as these individual components are, they fail to entirely captivate due to the less-than-stellar performance on the Switch. RiME in handheld is one of the most disappointing experiences I’ve had in games this year. Especially after hearing the positive reception for the game earlier in the year on other platforms.
Overall, RiME is a delicately-constructed experience sprinkled with beautiful moments, on the proviso you play the game exclusively docked to the TV. However, you should consider playing RiME on another platform to avoid the myriad technical and visual issues that come with the Switch port.
- Great sense of discovery
- Satisfying puzzles
- Beautifully composed soundtrack
- Poor visual resolution in handheld
- Frame rate issues
- Inferior to other versions of the game