Somewhere among the stars, there’s just gotta be a story that goes something like Rive‘s does. It’s a simple story – all about a man, his ship, and his dreams of space booty. Of course, it’s really about the explosions. At its core, the “metal wrecking, robot hacking shooter” of Two Tribes‘s creation holds no delusions about what it is. Rive flashes its license to thrill like a badge of honor so much that you can’t help but love it a little more. Armed to the teeth and always begging for more, Rive‘s the gun-toting Metroidvania you’ve probably wanted and maybe then some.
There’s definitely nothing dry or ponderous about Rive, a game that finds no shame in ditching semantics and exclaiming “Ahh, whatever, let’s exterminate asteroids and collect space loot!” You begin the game as Roughshot, the intrepid captain of a little bowling ball of a ship equipped with a teeny tiny cannon capable of laying more waste than you’d expect. As stated, your mission starts you off being pelted by a ton of space rock before winding up exploring the halls of a derelict spaceship.
If there’s an undeniable amount of Metroid in Rive‘s 2.5D doings, then it certainly uses its tongue-in-cheek inspiration to the fullest. In a ironic answer to the “Y can’t Metroid crawl?” meme, Roughshot’s ship is basically like piloting a flick-firing, Samus Aran ball with legs. The 360 degree angle you’re given for it lends a flexibility to the gameplay and crawling through air vents and jumping chasms like a rotund spider gives a quirky sensibility to the size and scale of increasingly larger enemies.
Rive‘s control scheme’s pretty competent on the Wii U gamepad – you aim your target laser with the left stick, control the camera with the right stick, jump with the left trigger, and fire with A/X. It’s fast, fluid, and carries the at times frantic action of the game dodging security drones.
The game’s main device besides bullets, hacking, lends a certain versatility to your otherwise tiny skill set. Security panels lay strewn across the ship granting access to new levels waiting for you to “hack” them by going into a scanning mode in which your ship can tether itself to them and open a new hatch. It all seems like a simple necessity to switch-up the gameplay from an action-platformer to an action-platformer with a switch-hitting mechanic, but it could be interesting in concept if taken further. All the while, it does provide a healthy distraction while mowing down enemies.
At ten to fifteen minutes, my time with Rive felt well-spent nonetheless. The many subsections of the ship took me through a variety of environments early on. From underwater pipeage to occupied train tracks, the game makers clearly wanted Rive’s levels to feel as well-rounded as possible. Enemy encounters were boisterous affairs of off-the-wall action and victory meant a fireworks show of wreckage as much as defeat. The final “boss” is almost daunting with its full robotic entourage present and the manic streak of onscreen lasers is a blast.
If its end-credits are to be believed, I look forward to seeing what other exclamations fly out of our dear Captain Roughshot’s mouth as much as I do the rest of Rive‘s metal menaces. A fun-fueled shoot ’em up in a 2.5 wrapper, Two Tribes could have a darling of a Metroid cousin on their hands with the right implementation. I dare say that I’ve yet to get my fill out of Rive and what I sure wanna know just who’s trying to kill my new favorite starship captain.
Rive is available for digital download on Mac and Linux and will be coming to Wii U, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Be sure to check out more of our coverage of all things Nindie and E3 happenings right here at BagoGames.