Rise & Shine is likely going to be a surprise hit in 2017 for those who decide to give the game a chance. Not often in the past few years that there has been a game with such thoughtful design from a handful of abilities at the player’s disposal inside a game which looks stunning on screen. The violence is overstated and the story lets down an intriguing concept, but the game shines as a standout January release.
Rise, after a series of unfortunate circumstances, finds himself as the only hero who can save Gameearth from the destruction of the Nexgen armies – this is pretty much what’s happening right now, to be honest – but there’s a problem; he’s a kid. Why is he the only one? He has been passed down the legendary weapon, Shine, from a fallen hero who you might recognize as an homage and he is the only one who can use it. As a result, Rise goes on a terrifying adventure, which tells a disappointingly simple story. The concept is really cool, and as you see references to games of old and some new, you’ll likely wish they could have done more with the narrative. How do these worlds fit together? Who else could have been spoofed or been made as an homage? How is Rise coping with the bloodshed around him? It could have been expanded further and at the end, there is a dramatic scene but it doesn’t feel impacting due to the lack of character development.
However, Rise & Shine is gripping due to its outstanding game design. The puzzles have you really think about the game mechanics in a different way, and it also flips traditional conventions at certain points. The puzzles are a great way to break up the intense combat segments, which have fun-as-hell sidescrolling shooting that requires skill from the gamer. Each level flows well with atmospheric segments, battle sections, and the puzzles. A showing of a great game is when your knowledge of the mechanics is tested progressively in difficulty and Rise & Shine does that, especially during its tough-as-nails final boss.
Whenever you figure out a puzzle through a unique twist of a mechanic or even the bosses and go through a tough wave of enemies, it’s rewarding and incredibly fun. The only issues to be had are that the game doesn’t allow checkpoint saves and the enemies are sometimes to small to see. If you are stuck at a boss or can’t figure out a puzzle, you have to start the 15-20 minute level again from the beginning. As for the small enemies, play this on as big of screen as possible because they can be a big pain as one type is hard to see and they zip from one side of the screen to another.
Oh man. The game has such a stunning art style and thrilling soundtrack. The 3D models within the 2D plain stand out and the cartoon art style really pops on screen. There is so much detail in the background and the art itself is interesting as the game worlds we knew while growing up are getting destroyed. It’s unique but also strikingly disturbing. Despite this game looking like a cartoon and having a kid as a lead protagonist, it doesn’t pull its punches. There are depictions of characters we know from video game history killed off in gruesome ways and it’s disturbing.
Rise & Shine has an excellent sense of atmosphere during its tense levels, thanks to its visual and audio work. Damian Sanchez, the composer of the game’s soundtrack, with his music keeps the battles intense and the overall theme epic. For example, the strings of the soundtrack are beautiful to listen to in the track, Seashores, but it maintains an epic battle for survival throughout. The developers cleverly manipulate the music to scale up the tone of the song depending on what’s happening on screen. For example, boss battles have stages to them and on the last stage, the song gains more percussion, creating more tension with the player.
One thing to note is the game’s length. The playthrough for this review took about 3-4 hours to complete. Others have reported 2-3 hours of playtime. The game unfortunately lacks replay ability with uninspired collectibles, but the game overall for what it offers is worth the price of admission.
Check Rise & Shine out because this game should get a sequel; this game could shine even more within its beautiful video game inspired world, cleverly designed puzzles, and action packed gameplay if it was given a more involved story line and a checkpoint save system.
A PC code of Rise & Shine was received by the publisher for review purposes.