For the last few years, indie games have had the luxury of ever-growing budgets and a wide selection of design formulae from the pioneers of the genre. Although indie games were once more fresh and unique than triple-A games (which avoid risky design decisions), they have in general become triple-I: tired and overburdened by the genre’s once-brilliant mechanics and supposedly subtle tools to teach and immerse the player.
Rime is an indie game that breaks that mold and regains a feeling of wonder and mystery. The player explores a world that is tightly designed, but also has dead ends and ambiguity. This leads to an experience that gives a pleasant balance of satisfaction without feeling inauthentic like a theme park. The player can solve puzzles that abide by clear mechanics (and are therefore not frustrating), but never feels like a drone studying a video game lesson plan. This leads to a feeling of satisfaction and independence.
Unfortunately, some expositional elements lacked subtlety – why were the beautiful ruins covered here and there by murals that explained the story, or even more absurdly tried explaining your current objective? The allegory of the end sequence was also a bit muddled and self indulgent on part of the design team. Even so, the story was very intriguing and emotional. I cried during the rain level.
It was a great experience and provoked a lot of interesting thoughts. Thanks Tequila Works!