RIVE is a new 2D scrolling shooter/platformer hybrid developed by Two Tribes, the team behind platform puzzler Toki Tori. You’re blasted straight into the action – hurtling from the left to the right of the screen whilst dodging clusters of asteroids and missile salvos. The action might be hyper paced, but it’s easy to pick up. You’ll be moving and dodging projectiles with the left analogue stick while directing your own bullet storm in a 360 degree arc with the right. It’s an instant, explosive spectacle, with rocks breaking up into smaller fragments and rockets careering all over the place.
While the shooter segment made up about a quarter of the snippet I played through, the rest was all platforming. Your flying orb transforms into a multi-legged bot that moves along at a more controlled, although still relatively frenetic, pace. Like Wall-E after a few too many shots of engine oil, your little robot will be double jumping and letting off hails of bullets as they’re chased by hovering drones. You’ll also be sucked through pipes and smashed to pieces by speeding trains that cut across the screen!
The pipes rapidly transfer you to different areas of the futuristic looking battleground. RIVE definitely stands out visually. On top of the cutesy robot design there are backgrounds awash with colours. One minute you’re shooting in space, a purple nebulae lighting the scene, next you’re fighting under the orange glow of an industrial refinery. As soon as your eyes have adjusted to one colour, you’re transported to a new space with its own hue – what remains is the carnage.
The heaps of scrap metal and general destruction eventually build up to a larger confrontation with a hulking boss automaton. One boss is shielded by smaller flying drones that buzz around him like flies. A similar amount of thought has gone into some of the set-pieces, most notably an underwater section where projectiles fizzle out, forcing you to pop up out of the water to fry things in short controlled bursts.
Along with more conventional power-ups, RIVE introduces a number of hacking abilities to collect. The hacks certainly spice things up a bit: you can hi-jack healing bots to keep you topped up on life, and more interestingly, hack attack drones to hitch a ride higher up in the level. So far RIVE has shown off a great deal of variety, but it’s difficult to know from just a short taste how much the hacking mechanics will add. Two Tribes will definitely need to build upon the variety they’ve got in order to produce something sustainably exciting.
So far, there are a lot of tricks on show. If these can be combined and expanded upon, then all these neat ideas could produce something mechanically complex. RIVE seems keen on being the kind of game you’ll play repeatedly. Not only can you rack up multipliers and compare scores with your friends, but it’s a platformer that begs to be sped through. To be successful in this, it will need to foster pixel-precise manoeuvres amongst all the raw heat and speed. Considering Two Tribe’s puzzle background, I’m hopeful RIVE will move beyond being just a breezy metal-wrecking romp and end up something worth perfecting.