‘Risk of Rain’ video game review
By Lauren Kelly, Editor-in-Chief
Risk of Rain is a side-scrolling, platforming, roguelike action game. It was the brainchild of two students from the University of Washington, and after receiving funds on Kickstarter, it was slowly rolled out across various platforms, from Windows in 2013, to OS X and Linux in 2014, and finally, to PS4 and PS Vita in 2016. With the game recently on sale for $3.99 down from $9.99 on the PlayStation Store, grabbing it was an easy (and rewarding) choice.
Although you can play by yourself, it’s definitely best played with a few friends on your couch or online. Many websites, and the game information itself, report that you can play with two offline, and up to four online, but we’ve had no problems connecting three controllers offline, with room for a fourth. For online, however, you can only connect with one other player, and you can both bring in a guest. This is technically four people, but it’s much less flexible than allowing you to connect with a few friends in different locations.
To start with, there are three difficulty modes—Drizzle, Rainstorm, and Monsoon. If you’re looking for casual play, Drizzle is a great place to start, as it’s still difficult, especially at the beginning. You can’t unlock everything on this, though, so if you’re a completionist or just want more options, you’ll have to go with Rainstorm.
For each run through the game, you can choose from one of 12 characters with different moves and stats, only one of which is unlocked at the beginning. Levels are large and involve a lot of platforming, and you spend your time searching them for chests with random upgrades and for the level’s teleporter to move forward.
This may sound simple, but stages are littered with enemies with different strengths and weaknesses, and, left unchecked, any of them can kill you. This is a real issue when death means restarting the game, even if you’re on the final level. To make things a little easier, in co-op, as long as one player makes it through the teleporter, everyone will revive to start the next stage. Clearing the teleporter, no matter how many players are alive, is another challenge—you need to survive a 90-second enemy wave complete with bosses, and then kill every remaining enemy in the level to move on.
As time progresses in your run, the difficulty goes up, which means if you camp out in a level to get more upgrades, the game will respond by levelling up as well. I’ve found this is usually worth it, though—with enough upgrades, including basic things like upping attack speed and health regen to more extreme things like shooting a Cyclops-esque optic blast after using enough abilities, the game definitely gets easier. Monsters can only handle so much, and a deluge of missiles fired by your five drones can be tough for them. Alternatively, with enough health regen abilities, it can be tough for them to get in enough damage to chip away at you substantially.
While it can be frustrating to lose, the gameplay is incredibly fun, and rewards your improvement with lots of new unlockables, including the aforementioned characters, new and better upgrades, and artifacts that drastically change the gameplay. Overall, I’ve had a blast with it, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a fun, and sometimes ridiculous, challenge.
This isn’t to say the game doesn’t have its issues. With the PlayStation version, we’ve run into numerous technical issues in the two weeks we’ve been playing it. Luckily, these have all come about in online multiplayer, so any of you who just want to take advantage of some good ol’ couch co-op are safe. However, the glitches are substantial. A few times, items and characters we unlocked during an online game, although available until we closed the game, had disappeared by the next boot up. Stranger still, we’ve desynced near the end of the game, with both of our games having a “ghost” of the other person still playing—but not doing anything the other person was actually doing on their end. After an hour-long, teamwork-filled run to the end this is really disheartening and disappointing.
Still, it’s worth a go. This game is deep and impressive, especially coming from such a small development team. My heart lies with couch co-op and always will, so supporting games like these to keep the genre alive is an easy choice for me, even if the game does have a few issues. And for the low price tag, you’re getting way more than your money’s worth.