There are points where Rima: The Story Begins takes your breath away. It’s a gorgeous-looking game, and its densely layered aesthetic flows out in waves of pastel colours that catch the eye and drag you deeper into the experience.
Or at least they would, were it not for one glaring problem – the controls here are sloppy to the point of being almost useless, and they diminish any enjoyment you might have been able to eke out of the experience.
Rima sees you playing a charming little creature, bouncing your way through a series of sumptuous levels and challenges. There are a bunch of buttons on the screen that change their function depending on where you’re standing, letting you push, climb, shoot, and clamber through the obstacles dropped in front of you.
There are glowing red spikes to avoid, dinosaurs that charge at you, spiders that spit green goo in your direction, and plenty of other characters and bits of scenery that are trying to kill you. You have an energy bar that depletes as you get hit, and you’re going to be watching it going down a lot, thanks mainly to the joystick that you move around the game with.
Often it doesn’t pick up your presses, or picks them up too slowly, leaving you stomping into an early death. Button presses are sluggish as well, and it all combines to turn what could have been a charming and engaging experience into a frustrating wander around some very nice looking backgrounds.
Rima gets the visual side of things spot on – everything from its lighting through to its enemy designs is great – but that simply doesn’t make up for the weakness inherent in its actual play. Jumps that should be easy become horrifying wars of attrition, bounce pads send you soaring into the air only for your direction changes not to register, and sometimes just walking from A to B can be an unbelievable chore.
Those problems expose even more drawbacks waiting underneath – while the game gives you plenty to do, none of it could be described as revolutionary.
We’ve been jumping over spikes and dodging acidic drips since the 8-bit era, and while the ones on display in Rima might be some of the prettiest, that doesn’t change the fact that the game is rehashing ideas that weren’t new 20 years ago.
Rima looks the part, but those good looks can only get it so far. Scratch below the surface and you’ll find a game that’s old-fashioned, poorly put together, and lacking the design nous to set it apart from the rest of the pack.
This one is a literal highlight: the lighting in Rima really is quite special, merging with some beautiful art to create an experience that makes the most out of the newer iPhone’s swanky screens. This is definitely a game to watch rather than play.
Poor controls and uninspired design make this a game that’s more disappointment than anything else.
Format: iOS (tested)
Developer: UP Entertainment
Publisher: UP Entertainment
Release: Out now