Game: Rise and Shine
Developer: Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team
Platforms: PC, Xbox One
Release Date: 13th January 2017
Over the past few years, I have fallen deeply in love with the month of January and what it provides gamers during the worlds post-Christmas depression. When I look back through the January months, not only do I see some fantastic titles – I see some incredible independent games. Pony Island, Blackguards 2, Nidhogg and The Banner Saga are some of the finest ‘smaller’ titles that have helped kickstart the video gaming year. So, it will probably come as no surprises that many of 2017’s first month releases have caught the interest of the writers here at Gaming Honour. Games like the spine-chilling Resident Evil VII – a game that has really intrigued fans the series has both kept and lost over the years. Kingdom Hearts makes its way to the new generation for the first, in anticipation of the main series’ third instalment. Disgaea 2 comes to PC almost eleven years after its original PlayStation 2 release. There are plenty of other eye-catching titles to add to that list as well, but there was one that stood out to me amongst the crowd.
Rise and Shine was a game that, for a lot of people it seemed, dipped underneath the radar – whenever I mentioned it, people just seemed to gaze at me with bewildered eyes as if I had just plucked the game straight out of the very air they were breathing. But when I showed it to people, they became just as intrigued and as captivated by the games wonderful art style as I was. Rise and Shine looked like an absolute winner.
Yet it pains me to say it was not a winner – not this time at least. It started well, with its pop culture references and fake Link getting massacred in the mall in front of those who idolised him. It was genuinely well written, funny and enjoyable… For about thirty minutes. Despite its exciting and humorous start, Rise and Shine seemed to jump off a cliff when it came to the games story whilst never seeming to fully realise the potential of its own Shoot-‘em-up gameplay.
Let’s not focus on the negatives for now, because Rise and Shine is not a game you should look at on the Steam store and immediately think you should be avoiding. As I stated above, the art is beautiful – especially during the games comic book style cutscenes. A lot of effort and care clearly was put into the way the game looks which seriously shows in the quality of not just the characters, but the backdrops of the levels too. In addition to that, the animation is so smooth, it just feels good to watch and move the character around. And where do you begin on the soundtrack!? It just fits everything so perfectly. Every level, boss battle – the music is just superb. The way the art style and level design blends with the soundtrack is truly fantastic.
So why does it go wrong?
If anything, it is not because the game is horrendous, because it’s not – it’s not even remotely bad. it just seems to lack refinement in the key areas of the game. It causes great frustration because initially the game starts superbly and proceeds to spend the next two hours lingering on the cusp of being another special indie gem. The games two most flawed areas are its gameplay and its story. In the beginning, the gameplay is fun – it’s not as innovative as it may look from the outside in, but in the early portions of the game I still found the gameplay to be quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, as the game progresses, the on-screen action becomes more hectic and relies on the player using precise aiming and well timed movement to stay alive. It’s at that point, when Rise and Shine is at its most hectic, where the controls really begin to fall apart in the players’ hands. Everything just becomes too clunky, there’s no finesse to the shooting, the levels within don’t scale to the chaos it tries to create, creating a unsatisfying game of chance. The game suddenly becomes a question of how many bullets the AI will fire at you at once, and is there a chance you can avoid them.
The game is short though, two hours – maybe two and half tops. The story starts with a clear intent to humour the player and it works well. At some point, maybe around an hour in, the game adds an old man and mute girl into the mix and never really gives the player insight into what they were up to. Nor do they do that for the bad guys actually. With clunky gameplay combined with the players’ apathetic attitude towards the bosses the game puts in front of them, the battles become more of a chore than an adrenaline pumping victory.
Rise and Shine is solid title – an enjoyable, yet at times frustrating game. Anybody with in an interest in independent gaming games are likely to pick up, and will most likely enjoy it, but it seems the lack of refinement in both the storytelling and gameplay just fell short to get that game to a level that would have people howling with praise. The shortcomings of Rise and Shine should not be a detriment to the talented developers behind the game. In terms of artistry and the games soundtrack, the game is superb, a pleasure to experience. It’s just the roughness of the gameplay and the story that lets it down in the end.
Final Verdict: 65%