RIVE

You can’t handle RIVE, but you should try.

RIVE

You can’t handle RIVE. It’s a little too hard. Boss fights are way too chaotic, and the platforming challenges are unnecessarily difficult. There are usually more enemies on-screen than you can keep track of, and sometimes it seems like the game is intentionally trying to take a cheap shot at you just to piss you off. You can’t handle RIVE, but you should try, because it’s the perfect twin-stick shooter.

The controls here are minimalist and finely tuned. It’s a twin-stick shooter, so obviously you’ll be navigating your ship with the left stick and shooting in 360 degrees with the right stick. Jump is assigned to your left trigger, and the right trigger will shoot whichever special weapon you have equipped. There are four special weapons in all, and once you buy them they’ll be mapped to your face buttons. Nice and simple.

This game is really, really hard

What’s not nice or simple is RIVE‘s level design. Don’t get me wrong. When I say it’s not nice, what I mean is it’s not forgiving. It is, on the other hand, impeccably well thought out and complex. Developer Two Tribes describes this as a shooter / platformer hybrid, and it is certainly both of those things. Each RIVE 2mission will take roughly 15-20 minutes to complete on a good run, but it will take most of you longer than that.

This game is tough as nails, and boss fights are absolutely brutal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve died from falling off of a platform, losing track of moving environmental hazards, being smashed to bits by a new attack pattern I didn’t see coming, or from being overwhelmed by my enemies’ sheer numbers or brute force. At times you’ll want to reach through the screen and smack the developers in the face for making a game so difficult but, like in Dark Souls, the sense of accomplishment and reward is always worth it.

Farewell, Two Tribes

This is Two Tribes’ going away present to all of its fans. After 15 years of hard work and dedication making great games, this Dutch developer has decided that the industry has changed faster than it could keep up, and it won’t be making any new games after RIVE. So much heart and soul was poured into RIVE, and you can feel it. This is a game made by people who love games. It’s apparent in its polish, in its design, and in the game’s humor and self-awareness.

RIVE gameplayRIVE doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and it’s much better for it. We don’t need a long or compelling story to justify our floating, running, and jumping around this space station shooting everything in sight. All we need are a few likable characters, great controls, and some kickass music. RIVE has all of those things in spades. The campaign is a hilarious, white-knuckle thrill-ride from beginning to end. You will laugh out loud, you will constantly be surprised, and you’ll have a lot of fun.

I heartily recommend RIVE to all of you, even if you don’t usually like hard games. This is pure, old-school fun. It pains me to know that RIVE will go down in obscurity; it deserves to be in headlines and on top-10 lists. As far as I’m concerned, this is hands down one of the best shooters of 2016. For less than $15 you have no excuse not to pick this up.


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