BOWSER, ruler of the Koopas, gazed into the mirror. Where once he had seen a king, now he saw only tears. Thus, heavy with shame, Bowser set off for the castle of Princess Peach, the only creature he had ever wept for.
Thank goodness, you say, that we didn’t write the story for Super Mario Bros.
How players justify their investment is often more important than the plot itself. When games tell stories, we just want to feel like our participation was worth it. RiME waits until the very last moment to finish telling its story, delivering one of the most beautiful endings we’ve seen in a long time. In that one moment, RiME fully justifies the eight hours you invest, transforming the game’s experience from mysterious to genuinely emotional.
Until that point, RiME is ostensibly the story of a boy who washes up on the shore of a cryptic island. One part ICO, two parts Journey, this is a game with stunning artwork and a calm, hypnotic atmosphere in which the boy jumps, climbs and solves puzzles on his way to the tower at the centre of the island. Who is he? Why go to the tower? What is his purpose? All these questions hang in the air as the boy explores the exceptional landscape.
The jumping, climbing and puzzle elements are more than adequate. In some cases, the puzzles are genuinely clever and satisfying. In others, they are obvious and well-trodden. What truly drives the experience forward is the dream-like atmosphere, the brilliant artwork and music.
Yet there’s always that nagging feeling at the back of your mind — what if this is yet another game that botches its landing? What if all this beautiful artwork and construction is just the developer fanning its feathers?
RiME is a worthwhile experience regardless of the beautiful ending and the game’s overarching purpose. The island is a heartfelt, if smaller-scale tribute to the expressive landscapes of Journey and the intimate animations of ICO. However, it’s the ending that ties the whole experience together and elevates RiME beyond artwork for the sake of artwork. Upon finishing, you will probably feel very differently about the game you just played.
Some games tell stories with no rhyme or reason. RiME has reason aplenty.
In other areas of gaming, it’s the same old story. Next week is E3, the biggest event in the industry, and everyone is trying to guess what big announcements will be made.
Our favourite speculation by far is that Bethesda will reveal their long-gestating science-fiction RPG Starfield.
Starfield is rumoured to have been in development since Fallout 3, with full production only starting after Fallout 4. According to whispers, the game allows players to travel from planet to planet from a central hub, with some planets being procedurally generated, and others hand-designed.
It’s supposedly a first-person game in the same vein as Skyrim and Fallout, with some rumours even suggesting that it takes place in the same universe.
There’s no guarantee that Bethesda will announce Starfield during their conference on Sunday. However, the trademark for this name was renewed last year, suggesting the developer is certainly working on something with that title.
Starfield aside, E3 is sure to be full of surprises, as always. It takes place from June 11-15. Now we just have to break out the popcorn and see the stories that develop.
Finally, one of the greatest stories ever told in another medium — that of television — is coming to PlayStation VR. Sony has announced that they are working with creator Vince Gilligan to bring a Breaking Bad experience to virtual reality. No details we given on what that experience would be, but that won’t stop fans getting very excited.
“We set up a day at our campus where we brought seven of the best show runners like David Shore of The Blacklist and Ron Moore, who did Battlestar Galactica,” says Andrew House, global chief executive of Sony Interactive Entertainment. “And they just played around with VR. Several of them were intrigued, but Vince was the one who said, ‘I really want to do something with this. I want to experiment with this.’” We can’t wait.