Video Game Review: Risk of Rain (PC)

Spoiler: it never rains

Risk of Rain is a far cry from the AAA blockbuster games we tend to review here on Plus Minus Infinity. You know, games like Far Cry. It's a step in a new direction and one of many changes on the site after our hiatus. So what is Risk of Rain?

Wait, hold up! Don't act like you can just ask me stuff. Do you even know who I am? I am Jordan “AToastyStrudel” Johnson, artist, amateur internet comedy writer, and student. I'm an old face, but a new addition to the crack writing team here at Plus Minus Infinity, and I have more aliases than the Wu-tang clan.

So what is Risk of Rain?

It is Difficult

This game is hard, like “if it persists for more than four hours contact a physician” hard. You see, Risk of Rain has roguelike elements. I know what you're thinking, “It gets a bonus to stealth?” No no no. Roguelike games were a result of hardware limitations on computers and empathy limitations with game developers in the early years of gaming. They were primarily text adventure games, but nowadays the genre has expanded immensely, thanks to indie developers. Look up Zork to get an idea.

No, seriously, go play some Zork.
Zork made my dog grow a beard; its a manly ass game.

Basically, the main elements of roguelike games are randomized items and levels, emphasis on exploration, and, most importantly, permanent death.

Risk of Rain has these elements in spades

If you get caught slipping, something unsavory will take you apart and then it's back to square one. If you are like me that means that pretty soon you'll be in a loop of anger induced bad decision making. Oh, and these kinds of games make fun of you for dying

Gee, thanks...

Why would I play that?

Because the difficulty is real! When you dodge rolled into the magma worm's tackle on the dry lake bed level, it was your fault. A lot of games rely on fake difficulty (Putting the player in unfair conditions, with unclear solutions) to prolong gameplay, whereas RoR simply makes the game hard. If you die, you start over, and the items and enemies change the next time 'round.

At it's core, this is a polished 2D shooter. Think Contra or Metal slug, but with less side scrolling and more exploration. Each character has four unique skills and only the dodge skills are remotely similar, so each unlocked character can give at least a few hours of experimentation, trying to find the right strategies and items. Combined with tight controls and a small scale, this all makes for a unique experience.

Another cool thing about this game is the difficulty timer there in the upper right corner. The longer you take, the harder it gets.

Notice how it says “hard” and it's barely past ¼ of the way full?
I hope you like the first level.


Jeez really?

Fine, how about unlocking items/characters/achievables to engorge your E-peen?
Ten characters, ten levels, and a buttload of items. Actually, there are far too many to load in a butt, but you get the idea. Every character plays completely differently, and finding them is fun and sometimes rather challenging.

So what's wrong with it?

Simple: randomized items can screw you over and the multiplayer has no official rooms or servers. I have to tell you, my impressions of the game are all from singleplayer, because even using Hamachi could not get the game to connect for multiplayer. Some people have better luck, and I'm jealous of them, as I'm sure this game becomes much better with friends.

About those randomized items. This problem isn't really one that can be solved as its a flaw of the genre. Luck can affect the outcome of your play through immensely. One run may give you access to loads of gun drones, but shaft you on healing items. Another might give you lots of jump upgrades, but not much else.

a lot of these are references.

Lastly, the Sniper is total ass. Being quick on your feet is essential to survival in Risk of Rain. Standing stock still for three seconds to aim is a surefire way to end up in some monster's lower intestine.  Then, splitting focus between back flipping away and active reloads doesn't do the Sniper any favors either. Overall, the Sniper is a poorly executed, uninspired character.

Anything Else?

Yeah. This game has some cool lore that takes some work to unlock but is totally worth it. So, check those monster and item logs.

but it wasn't a rock...

The Fast and Dirty

Risk of Rain is a highly difficult 2D shooter with multiple unique characters, random items, and lots of exploration. Casual gamers will feel unwelcome. Players who enjoy in depth story, and characters, will also be put off.

The sniper blows.

Buy it?

It's $9.99. I've bought games for $59.99 and gotten less out of them. Give it a shot. You can play as a robot janitor with a lil' hat and if that doesn't convince you, then you aren't human.


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