General game information
Game name: Rise & Shine
Release date: January 13, 2017
Price: US$ 14.99
Available on: Steam
Genre: 2D shooter/puzzle platformer
Developer: Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Rise & Shine is a 2D shooter with puzzle elements set in Gamearth, a peaceful world inhabited by videogame characters. Not everything is nice and shiny though, since Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team‘s latest title takes place during a ruthless invasion launched by the planet Nexgen, a place that seems definitely inspired by the Gears of War series, as the Nexgen troopers all look buff and manly, and wear armor pieces that reminded me of the COG standard issue equipment worn by Marcus Fenix and his band of not so merry men. We play as Rise, a young boy who must take the sacred gun Shine to Gamearth’s king in order to save the planet from the attacking space marines.
Shine bestows a very handy special power upon Rise, as it seems that whoever bonds with the gun will have the ability to respawn indefinitely. Sadly, this respawn system isn’t exactly what one would expect, and instead of placing the player character in the same place where he just died, what it does is load the most recent checkpoint (which may not be so close, and may even be the classic checkpoint before unskippable animation trope which everyone hates) Aside from the respawn mechanic, Rise & Shine mixes side-scrolling shooter action with cover based shootouts which wouldn’t look out of place in the Gears of War universe, and a bit of light puzzle solving. We control Rise with the left stick (or W, A, S, D keys) and Shine with a combination of left trigger plus right stick to aim (or right click plus mouseaim) As the adventure progresses, we can find different upgrades for our basic revolver, letting us control bullets remotely, gain more ammunition or use different bullet types which will be very handy as we encounter more advanced enemies or clever puzzles block our way.
The Gears style cover shooter mechanic works very well, and it feels perfect, considering that the most common enemy type is a space marine ripped straight out of that third person shooter franchise. Sadly, combat encounters which don’t use this mechanic suffer from poor pacing and nightmarish difficulty spikes rear their ugly head from time to time, as the game loves to place Rise in hectic firefights that require perfect timing in order to evade enemy fire while dealing enough damage to get rid of the threat at the same time. Later levels will also force the player to switch bullet types mid-fight, something that could have been a nice change of pace if it wasn’t so poorly implemented. Boss fights can also be rage inducing, since beating one phase of a boss won’t save a checkpoint, so dying just before being able to fire the final shot will mean that we’ll have to replay the whole segment over and over again.
Luckily, the controls respond well (although I found out that playing with a 360 pad was a lot harder than with mouse and keyboard, something unexpected in a 2D shooter) and the puzzle sections are not only clever but also fun to solve.
The game truly shines in its artistic department, with smooth animations bringing the lavishly detailed character models to life, and intricately detailed backgrounds setting the scene for the action. Shooting baddies in the face with Shine will dismember them, and there is a detailed gore system in place, both for Rise and for his victims. The soundtrack is breathtaking, featuring high quality music tracks that wouldn’t sound out of place in a big budget production, and it works perfectly during the comic-style cutscenes, daftly hiding the lack of voiced dialogue with masterfully paced instrumental pieces.
Sadly, the game’s story is full of cliches, and the characters feel flat and lifeless. The plot progresses at an uneven pace, with important players showing up and doing things without offering any kind of explanation, and the bad guys are some of the most shallow enemies I’ve ever faced in a videogame, as their motives for invading the peaceful planet of Gamearth are laughable at best. The developers also tried to inject as many gaming culture related jokes and references as possible, but sometimes more isn’t necessarily better, and I personally found most of the attempts at humor dry and lifeless.
Ultimately, Rise & Shine is a beautiful 2D action title marred by annoying difficulty spikes and an uninspired story. It’s not an outright bad game, as there is enjoyment to be found in its puzzle segments and Gears of War style cover based shootouts, but the overall package isn’t very fun to play.
5/10 – Average