Rive: Ultimate Edition is a 2D twin-stick shooter in which you play as Roughshot, a scavenger trapped in a vast, dilapidated ship from which you must escape. There’s a bit of a learning curve to the controls but the game eases you in–at least for the first 30-60 minutes of the game. After that, the difficulty spikes quite a bit. There were several areas where I was dying 5-6 times in nearly identical spots. There is a ‘Soft Mode’ (easy mode) but I never encountered it. It’s supposed to prompt the player for the Soft Mode if they die in quick succession. I probably didn’t reach the threshold and it saw I was making at least some forward progress. Visually, Rive: Ultimate Edition look fantastic and runs at a smooth 60FPS in 1080p when docked and 720p in handheld mode. Even with all of the hectic action happening on the screen at once, I never noticed any slow down. The environments both inside and outside of the ship look sharp and detailed.
Rive is a brutal game that will break your resolve again and again if you let it. Most enemies you encounter can only shave off a fraction of your health, but they so frequently come at you in swarms that even the most insignificant error can result in an overwhelming death. The game will throw these at you as quickly as it dares, and often likes to mix things up by limiting your area of a movement to a small platform floating atop a bubbling lake of lava. This isn’t to say the game isn’t fun though, because it is. The core mechanics of moving, jumping and shooting have been nailed to near perfection, and despite the harsh nature of the difficulty, I always found myself compelled to come back and try again. You’ll also come across sections focused on your platforming skills – these are a bit few and far between for my liking, but I definitely basked in the all too brief tranquility whilst I could before the game threw me in at the deep end again.
The main campaign in Rive: Ultimate Edition offers 12 missions, each with worldwide and friend leaderboards.
There are also a few other modes and options to keep you coming back for more, such as single credit mode where you do not get any continues. There is also a unique co-op multiplayer mode where each person takes control of one aspect of the ship. One person will control movement and the other will man the gun, alternating after each death. I found this mode to be quite fun with friends and family. The core gameplay and mechanics of moving, jumping and shooting are very fluid and smooth, and even though the rigid difficulty can be frustrating at times, I always found myself jumping back in for more. Unlike most shooters of this genre, you won’t find random upgrades in the environment and then lose them upon dying. Instead, you use the loot you find by destroying enemies to permanently unlock four different abilities by purchasing them after completing missions.
Each upgrade has situations when they work best, such as the shotgun blasts are great for tight corridors with hordes of enemies. Homing missiles are solid for more open areas where enemies are spread out. These abilities should be used wisely as each one can only be used once before you need to find more ammo. In addition to upgrading your abilities, you can also boost your ships armor and range in which it gathers ammo. However, the most unique ability is the ability to hack. Early on you’ll hack computers to open paths for you to continue pushing forward, but eventually gain the option to hack certain enemies. These range from heal bots to literal trains.
Rive: Ultimate Edition is a great twin-stick shooter that definitely deserves a spot in your Switch library. It’s a wonderful swan song for Two Tribes (the company announced Rive would be its final game back in March 2016) and I think the team should be truly proud of what they have created.