RIVE: Insanely Frustrating, Extremely Fun

RIVE is a brutal twin-stick shooter with 12 levels that absolutely tests the limits of the player. It’s a challenging shooter that leaves no room for mistakes, which is often a very sucky thing for players during their initial playthrough. They will die so many times in so many ways that it often makes them grumble at the screen and pause for a moment before respawning into the exact same extreme situation that got them killed in the first place. Oh yes, RIVE is a brutal game.

It’s certainly built for those who have patience and enjoy shooters. Even though it is quite hard, it doesn’t take too long to learn the situation in each level. And while each level gets progressively more difficult, I used to think that even the second mission was impossibly challenging at times. However, after multiple playthroughs, the second mission is now a cake walk for me. In fact, I’m so good at it that I now hold the second overall score in the world. My point being that the game gets easier the more the player becomes familiar with it.


RIVE takes a minute, or possibly 10 minutes, or even 100 deaths later, to learn the process of each level. It’s the surprises that the player can’t predict that makes the game most difficult, but once the player becomes familiar with each segment of each level is when they’ll better understand and control the situation more. Now, I’m not saying that the game becomes a lot easier once the players know what’s coming, it just becomes a lot more manageable once they know what to fully expect. Also, if players have too much difficulty in a particular section, the game will allow the player to continue from that point on an easier difficulty than what’s offered at the start.

I yelled and screamed at the TV on multiple occasions, and I even said good riddance Two Tribes at one point (still love you guys!), but even though the game is extremely difficult on the first go-around, it’s so rewarding after completing a level. And once players fully understand a mission and know what to expect, that’s when the game reaches an entirely new level of satisfaction as it becomes so much more enjoyable and fun.

Completing a level is very satisfying for the player after all the hard work and effort it takes to get from start to end. Thankfully, it’s also somewhat entertaining as well with the main character as he’ll throw out comments at the end of levels, or sometimes mid-level, that are often comical. There are a lot of jokes in there that gamers will appreciate. There are even levels that will remind players of other games, and levels that play like different type of shoot ‘em ups. There’s a lot to appreciate here.

RIVE features smooth gameplay and easy controllability, although I did have some instances of where I screwed up my jumps during a few of the navigational sections where players must outrun lava or dodge numerous enemy projectiles. I don’t blame the controls for that though, just the insane situation that I was thrown into.

But what makes RIVE unique to play is that it features a hacking mechanic that allows the player to overtake enemy bots and use them to their advantage to fire back at other enemies and navigate specific sections of a level. It’s definitely fun later on to hack one of the bigger enemies and have them ram into anything that gets in the way.

When players aren’t totally wrapped up in dealing with all the craziness that’s thrown at them they can take a moment to really appreciate the visuals around them with great colors and nice lighting effects that make every level a pleasure to look at. I really like the lighting in some of the darker sections and how it interacted with the background. It’s just another reason why RIVE is a fantastic game to play.

If you can smile at the end of a learning period, a.k.a. death, then this is a game that will challenge and satisfy you completely. It’s a great struggle the first time around, but it becomes so incredibly fun the more it’s played. However, if you are someone that’s going to call some of these learning periods cheap, then stay far, far away from this game.

While playing through the game the first time is a challenge like no other, it’s those second playthroughs and the high-score runs that make the game a massive amount of fun. There scoring system is wonderful for all high-score hunters as it can challenge the best of the best and reward the most persistent players. There’s a ton of replayability here as the levels get even better the more they are played.

RIVE is a fantastic shooter that is insanely frustrating, extremely fun, and gorgeous to look at while tumbling through it all.

A note to the developers: I was very close to calling this game Amazingly Meh! I’m sure you know why with all of those taunting death screens. Thanks for that. 😉


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