Ho! Ha ha! Guard! Turn! Parry! Dodge! Spin! Ha! Thrust! Boi-oi-oi-oing!
Well, that ended about as well as my first 60 seconds playing RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! Welcome to Sherwood Forest, which in RIVE looks more like an abandoned space hulk of a cargo ship. While you tootle about in your zero-G flying, jumping, shooting, life supporting little bug mech, you get to engage in all kinds of wonderful mayhem. There is a lot of running and shooting (always a good start…) and dodging of things which want to kill you.
You can even squish the cockroaches if you want, which is oddly satisfying.
The basic controls use WASD for moving around and the mouse to aim and fire. The targeting reticle works like the cursor, so wherever you move your mouse that’s where the bullets go when you left click. The game even provides a handy line of sight indicator line. Other controls include the always popular F key, which in this case is the “hack into that gadget so I can use it” key. The number pad is used for special attacks which, as expected, open up as you advance. When you are floating in 0-G, the WASD keys work like thrusters. When there is gravity, the S key is pretty useless, but the W key does become a Jump key with the handy bonus of being able to get you a bit higher if you hit it twice quickly.
In other words, best if you’re playing this one with a full keyboard.
RIVE provides a labyrinthine structure to get through. There are plenty of things to shoot along the way, and don’t forget to collect the nuts and bolts as they become the raw material to make your bullets. You’ll need them to destroy the automated defenses that can make your day really miserable really fast. Thankfully, you are not totally alone on your journey; there are some nurse bots which can help you stay alive. (Again, don’t forget that F key as you’ll need to hack into their operating system to get any help from the nurse bots.)
Once you get into the rhythm of running, dodging, shooting, spin-ha-thrust (sorry, flashback), the game proves to be just unpredictable enough to keep you dying and coming back for another run. We all know there is another bad guy around every corner, but sometimes this game throws you a curve just when you think you’ve figured out what’s ahead. The auto save is pretty good about making sure you don’t have to back up too far when you die, so it isn’t too difficult to get a handle on the enemy’s patterns and make a good attempt before the next hot mess lands on you and kills you.
RIVE is pretty dark graphically, but you’re on an abandoned space ship so it works. The graphics are really good and the gameplay is fast and smooth. The audio is to the point and well done, which is good because your gun shoots lots of bullets really fast, which is always a happy thing.
The game comes with all the goodies as far as campaign, missions, leader boards, etc. go, as well as two difficulty settings so you can get a lot of play time for your investment. Even better, there’s an area for side missions including a nice version of Asteroids (I die a lot in this version, too).
So Here It Is
Overall, RIVE provides plenty of fighting, exploring, shooting, and bug squishing to keep a gamer happy for many hours. I didn’t necessarily want to play for more than 30 minutes at a time, but this isn’t an immersive world game, it’s a shoot everything and survive game for a quick adrenaline rush. Rive is currently available on Steam for $14.99 and is worth checking out.
Another thing worth checking out is the first sentence of this article. Those who get the reference already know and are chuckling to themselves. Those who don’t get it should do themselves a favor a run a video search.
Developer: Two Tribes
Publisher: Two Tribes Publishing
Minimum Requirements: OS X v10.7, 2.5 GHz Dual Core processor, 4 GB RAM, Geforce 8000 series (discrete) graphics card, 1 GB available disk space
Availability: Now on Steam and the Mac App Store