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Risk of Rain

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Risk of Rain

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Game Reviewed: Risk of Rain
Publisher: Chucklefish
Developer: Hoppo Games
Reviewer: Naomi Norbez
Platform(s): Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4, PS Vita, Switch
Category: Platformer, Sci-Fi, Roguelike
ESRB Rating: E10+

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Game Description:  In April 2013, two college students launched a Kickstarter to turn their demo into a full video game.  It was funded in less than a weak, and seven months later, Risk of Rain was released to the public.

Risk of Rain is a platformer game with a twist— instead of simply moving through a 2D area to reach an end goal, the player must survive onslaughts of enemies on multiple worlds, in order to leave the strange planet they’ve crash-landed on. It falls under the genre of roguelike: a game that uses random elements each playthrough, and requires the player to complete it in only a single life.  Risk of Rain of trial and error—but each death brings more experience, new objects to help you survive the next time, and more information about your enemies and the items you collect.

I originally bought Risk of Rain on a whim in early 2016, and I found a lot to love in this little project.  Since it was just released on Nintendo Switch this year, let’s dive into it and see what Risk of Rain has to offer.

What Parents Need to Know

Violence:  The game is played in a third person view, and presents a “kill or be killed” situation. The goal of the game is to survive each level of the planet, and to do this the player must slay bloodthirsty enemies to get gold and experience.

Its pixelated graphics show only the detail necessary for this process—there is no blood or gore, and the violence is not graphic or realistic, but the corpses of enemies remain on the ground until you advance to the next stage.

Some item descriptions mention violence, ranging from domestic disputes to war.

Language:  There is no profanity in the main game.  There are a few instances of censored swearing (f**k) in the item descriptions.

Sexual Content:  There is no sexual content in this game.

Spirituality:  A few items are hinted to have spiritual powers, either via its in-game use or in its item description.  Some enemies have a ghostly appearance.  The game’s hardest difficulty is indicated by a demonic head.

Miscellaneous:  The item descriptions and monster logs use some advanced vocabulary, which may give younger readers a hard time.

Positive Elements:  Risk of Rain subtly explores some deep themes with its plot: whether your survival is worth the death of others, and what it means to be a physical and metaphorical monster.  It’s also full of bonus literature about its items and creatures (monster logs must be collected, but item logs are obtained when the correlating item is collected) that expands greatly on the sci-fi themes and gives great volume to its story.

A Child’s Perspective:  Risk of Rain offers a beautifully strange world and an element of mystery that will intrigue players.  It is a game for those willing to understand its weapons, enemies, and items, even if it means failing repeatedly before getting to that stage. Some children will greatly enjoy this, while others will find it deeply frustrating.

Reviewers Thoughts:  Frankly, Risk of Rain is one of the best games I’ve ever played.  And I’ve been playing video games for over a decade.  The art style is unmatched, each item and its description is unique and interesting, and the mechanics are simple yet require mastery to survive.  Every enemy has a windup animation that gives time for the player to react, which lays the blame for being hurt solely on the player, and not on shortcomings of the game itself.  It’s rare to find a game so well-tuned, and the fact that it was created by an independent studio makes Risk of Rain even more impressive.

There are a few caveats, however.  Arena Mode, which was funded on the Kickstarter, is still not in the game to this day.  And bugs can still be found here and there—the game was last updated in April 2016, which removed some of the most annoying glitches (including one where the player fell off the stage repeatedly and was unable to progress), but a few can still be found during rare play-throughs.  Luckily these issues are uncommon, and usually not things that break a game.

The other issue is that of online play.  I play this game on PC, and connecting to a friend online is nearly impossible—the rare instance where it does connect, my friend and I only get a few minutes together before we’re kicked off the server.  This is a problem that has hindered the game since its release in 2013, and while I’m sure it’s a non-issue on console releases, it’s a sad detriment to the PC version.  Risk of Rain computer players seeking out consistent online play have to download a different program entirely, and it’s not worth the hassle.  Console players will likely have no problems in this area, for both online play and local co-op.

But even with these issues, Risk of Rain still shines as one of my favorite videogame experiences ever.  I still boot it up from time to time and greatly enjoy it the struggle of defeating enemies and finding items (my total playtime over the years is more than I’d like to admit).  Risk of Rain is not for everyone, but players willing to face its challenge to survive will have a fantastic time with it.

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Naomi Norbez

Naomi Norbez

Naomi Norbez has been making, playing, and critiquing games since she was a kid. In her free time she makes text adventures, draws comics, and watches birds. She hopes you find her reviews helpful and values any thoughts on them you'd like to share.

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