Rise & Shine Review

By Kevin Tavore, 2 years ago
Rise & Shine is one game among many. Every month we receive dozens of new indie games and it can be incredibly hard to keep track of them all. It can be fun to jump into these games with almost no idea what they are, but all too often you end up with a dud even as you hope to be pleasantly surprised. Rise and Shine could have been like so many others, but my time with it has shown me it's a step above the rest. It's a game that takes its premise, executes it well, and doesn't overstay its welcome. It's also a game with which I'm glad I had a chance to spend time.


The first thing you'll notice when playing Rise and Shine is the visual symphony that makes up the game. It's beautiful. Every piece of art is unique and it's all put together to make an engaging atmosphere that feels good to play. There will be times that you stop to simply admire the art in the game, even if it's something that you almost never do in any game. Even when things begin to move, the animation in the game is spot-on and everything simply flows together. Rise and Shine is a visual masterpiece that developers in the future should look to for inspiration.

The second thing you'll notice is that the developer seems to have a strong love for Dark Souls and its penchant for killing the player constantly. Rise and Shine is vicious and it attempts to kill you, with great success, in a new way every time you scroll the map to a new area. As soon as you exit the opening area of the game, you'll no doubt die to a land mine that seemingly springs out of nowhere. Lesson learned. You shoot the land mine and continue on a few steps only to be immediately killed by a missile strike that comes out of nowhere. Towers will topple on you. Grenades will fall. Zombies will rush you. Laser turrets will incinerate you. Sometimes you'll even just fall down dead from walking near an obelisk. Every death is a lesson and it's accompanied by bloody carnage for greater impact. This merciless design could be an unending fountain of frustration in some games, but Rise and Shine is fair and you'll always learn from your mistakes quickly and continue on. While it does become stale near the end of your playthrough to die constantly, in retrospect it's one of the elements of the game that I will remember fondly.

Title

The gameplay is made up of two key features, the first of which is the run and gun combat that is a bit too simple. You'll scroll across the screen and see a familiar bit of rock, which serves as cover. It's like when you enter a room full of waist-high objects in a game like Gears of War - you know you're in for a fight. You'll get behind your rock and enemies will spawn, which you'll quickly mop up using regular or electric bullets depending on the enemy. There are very few enemies in the entire game that cannot be killed in this way, and it would have been refreshing to see some more interesting battles. The boss battles show flashes of what the combat could have been — you'll be avoiding attacks, shooting enemy bullets, and attacking weak points in almost dance-like fashion — but they're simply spread too thin.

The second thing you'll be doing is solving puzzles. The puzzles are interspersed with the combat and other set pieces to serve as breaks in the action. They're fun to solve, but are not something on which you'll spend too much time and they're never frustrating. If you're the type of player who loves to sit and consider everything to solve the puzzle, these won't be for you. If you're the type who enjoys a puzzle here and there to spice up the gameplay and give a break from the combat, you'll find Rise and Shine will offer just that.

Big Ship

Sadly, the game doesn't offer much beyond combat and puzzles. There are a few optional minigames that reward bonuses and achievements, and a shoot'em up section, but beyond that the only other thing to do in the game is search for collectibles. There are chests to find that give you extra ammo. Then there are little circles that you shoot and collect that do nothing. Once you beat the game, you'll also unlock Iron Man mode that resets your save whenever you die. It's a fun mode for elite fans of the game, but you'll likely end up frustrated more often than not.

The game's story is full to the brim with blatant video game references that can be annoying more than humorous. You'll visit RPG-themed worlds, visit a Kingdom decorated with mushrooms, and deal with constant 4th wall breaking references to you as the player and the developer. I found myself wishing the beautiful visuals and creative design was accompanied by a nice story and main hero whom I could get behind. Instead, any attempt at a meaningful experience was hamstrung by 4th wall humor and meant that the story was more of a miss than a hit.

Lost

Despite the game's shortcomings, the largest issue I had was that I didn't get enough of the game. A playthrough took only three hours in total. Despite receiving a complimentary death upon entering a new area, I'd quickly move through after that. There simply wasn't much challenge thanks to the simplicity of the design and enemies, but the simplicity is not the issue — the issue is that it was not long enough. Most of the game can be finished in less than two hours, while the other hour comes in thanks to a brutal difficulty spike in the final level's two boss fights.

Unfortunately at this moment in time, the achievements are not synced to Xbox LIVE. Some have still been unlocked and you won't get many achievements in a single playthrough. I amassed a grand total of four achievements in my first run through the game, including one for finishing the game, two for scoring well in mini-games, and one miscellaneous achievement. Hopefully, the achievements will link soon and we will have a proper idea of the full list.

Summary

It only took three hours to get through Rise and Shine in its entirety but it was an enjoyable experience. With beautiful visuals and some exciting boss fights, there's plenty of flash to get your attention. The combat is interspersed between cool set pieces and interesting puzzles, which keep things fresh as you die your way through the game. The only hiccup was the finale where two fights accelerated the difficulty to such an extreme degree that playtime can nearly be doubled. That, combined with a hit and miss story, made this game a little weaker than it could have been. Ultimately, Rise and Shine is a game that fans of the genre and those looking for a quick experience will enjoy, but hesitant players may not find their experience worth the purchase.
3.5 / 5
Rise & Shine
Positives
  • Outstanding visuals
  • Puzzles compliment gameplay and are not too difficult
  • Variety of environments and enemies keeps things interesting
  • Boss battles are challenging and fun
Negatives
  • Combat is too simple and has a frustrating difficulty spike at the end
  • Story breaks the fourth wall too often
  • Only three hours long
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent 4 hours fighting, killing bosses, finding collectibles and solving puzzles to beat the game, as well as trying his hand at Iron Man difficulty. An Xbox One review code was provided courtesy of the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Kevin Tavore
Written by Kevin Tavore
Kevin is a lover of all types of media, especially any type of long form story. The American equivalent of Aristotle, he'll write about anything and everything and you'll usually see him as the purveyor of news, reviews and the occasional op-ed. He's happy with any game that's not point and click or puzzling, but would always rather be outdoors in nature.
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