by Preston Dozsa
reviewed on PC
Rise & Shine starts off strong with an eye catching art style, referential humour to other video games and gameplay that combines classic run and gun action with puzzle solving mechanics. Yet, the promising start gives way to frustration and repetition far too early, creating a game that quickly becomes tiring and boring to play through.
Rise & Shine is about a boy named Rise who comes across a legendary gun named Shine by chance. The duo team up to fight back against a massive alien invasion composed of muscular grunts from the nearest Gears of War knockoff, blasting through them and robots in a traditional side scrolling shooter. Far from a classic run and gun, the game introduces two bullet types - regular and electric - alongside three different modifiers that allow you to either shoot the gun normally, control the bullets manually or fire off explosive rounds. Using different combinations of ammo and devices, Rise and Shine must work together to stop the invasion.
The combination starts off strong, with the mechanics being introduced at a steady pace that does not overwhelm you and allows for some experimentation to figure out how they are properly used. But those introductions dry up very quickly, as gunfights turned into hectic battles that are difficult to solve with any precision. I imagine the game was meant to be slower paced, but it often feels more like a bullet hell shooter at times than the puzzle game it is clearly trying to be. What’s worse is that bullets destroy enemy projectiles, meaning that even if you know the solution to winning a fight, it is often left up to random chance whether your bullet is going to strike yet another projectile or slip through the cracks and hit that enemy you’ve been firing at for the past minute.
This would be not as bad were it not for the ease with which you die. Rise does not last very long in a fight, and there are several encounters where he will immediately die upon being hit, no exceptions. Limited space to move around is coupled with an aiming system that makes it difficult to properly ascertain where your bullets are going to go, creating a system that relies more on luck than anything else. You will die, time and time again, and it will not be the kind of dying that makes you want to suffer through the game to see what’s on the other side. In short, this game is very unfulfilling.
A losing battle
The ammo types and bullet modifications that made the Rise & Shine interesting in the beginning lack the staying power to carry the game through the entire campaign. As it draws on, modifications begin to be used less and less, turning even more of the encounters into similar slogs that simply serve to extend the time it takes to complete it. There is no joy or sense of accomplishment to be found when winning a battle, as it only means that you will have to suffer through a new encounter that doesn’t do enough to differentiate itself from the past one.
On the more positive side, Rise & Shine’s aesthetic is eye catching and serves to somewhat carry the game through its more annoying gameplay sections. Colours pop and animations are very fluid throughout the game, which is all the more impressive considering how much the gameplay seems to blend together by the end. Furthermore, the game revels in referencing a multitude of video games both past and present, and you will see homages to everything from The Legend of Zelda and Gears of War to Flappy Bird and Space Invaders of all things. They’re cute and entertaining to catch, even though the world itself seems to be composed of characters from video game knockoff land. But even then, there is nothing really original that Rise & Shine is trying to do.
When it comes down to it, Rise & Shine is unable to create an engaging experience by itself, with mechanics that are not utilized to the best extent. Worse, the game feels like a chore to play, as I felt that I had to rely predominantly on luck in order to advance through much of the game. For all the strength of its graphics and introductory stages, Rise & Shine is unable to create a compelling experience worth playing.
Great graphics, solid humour, strong introduction
Extremely repetitive, puzzles and gunfights don’t mix well