Rive: Ultimate Edition
The wait to play Rive on a Nintendo machine has been a long time coming.
This 2D side-scroller was first announced back in 2014, and was originally slated for release on the Wii U. Ultimately, Rive never did surface on Nintendo's former home console, due to a mix of both performance and market concerns. Instead, developer Two Tribes opted to shift the game over to the Switch — the result of which is a much welcomed, amped up (and now portable) version, bringing with it a handful of welcome extras.
So, what's on offer here? Simply put, Rive offers frantic twin-stick action — bringing together a mix of classic shooter and modern gameplay elements. The action in question all takes place aboard a spaceship filled with a (somewhat limited) line-up of robotic enemies, all of which are hell-bent on ensuring you meet a messy demise.
Now, although Rive's story isn't particularly important to the core experience (and the game knows this, poking fun at itself on numerous occasions), here are the essentials: You take up the role of Roughshot, a stranded loot-loving scavenger who is tasked with escaping the isolated vessel on which you find yourself. You'll be at the helm of a fun little vehicle, dubbed the Spidertank, ready to take on the tasks that lie ahead. You'll need to take out numerous enemies, collect any scrap metal they leave behind, and keep moving until you find your way out.
This escape takes place over the course of a dozen or so missions, and the game doesn't really hold back — putting you straight to work, dropping you into the thick of the action.
As soon as you get your hands on the controls of the agile Spidertank, enemies will be flying at you from all directions, and you'll have to learn fast how to deal with them. Thankfully the controls are tight, and you'll quickly be navigating the spaceships many compact corridors and dodging enemy fire with confidence.
Of course, for those times that you don't manage to dodge an enemy, you'll soon die. Get used to it. Seeing the death screen in Rive is no rare occurrence. Yes Rive is often tough, and you will die a lot, but at no point does this ever feel unfair or overly frustrating. Instead, such experiences are ones that you can swiftly learn from, identify where you went wrong, and adapt. Rive isn't unfair, just a little full on in places.
In order to truly progress, you'll need to be agile and quick witted about your movement and aiming - mastery of your vehicle and amping up your fire power is key to survival. The aforementioned scrap metal, comes in to play here. Your collected loot can be used to upgrade your vehicles arsenal - you'll want to do this early on to beef up your 360-degree fire power and to keep a good momentum.
As you progress through the somewhat linear levels, you'll come across several boss battle — these offer something a little different from the typical gameplay, ramping up the intensity another notch.
Either way, whether you're wrecking grunts, or facing up to bigger bosses, you'll be kept busy throughout an average play-through (which takes around six or seven hours). Rive's good mix of classic gameplay elements work well together, with double-jump platforming, tight level exploration, and a smattering of enjoyable set pieces. From start to finish Rive is well-rounded, looks good, and plays well. It's not going to leave any grand lasting impression - but that's ok, this is a game that knows what it is, good fun, well packaged.
Running at a smooth 60FPS and in 1080p when docked (it's 720p when in handheld). The entire experience looks good, and is a joy to play.
For any of you who've played Rive before, the Switch's Ultimate Edition brings with it a new copilot mode, where two players can share the responsibilities. This, along with extra achievements and competitive leaderboards, means there is plenty to dig into.
Rive is said to be the last game from developer Two Tribes, and it makes for a nice send off — blending together a handful of differing gameplay styles, solid looks and great design all very successfully.
It's a well-polished addition to the Switch's growing library, that has plenty of challenge and charm.