Game: Rise & Shine
Release Date: January 13th, 2017
Developer/Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Rise & Shine will have you uttering curse words you never thought you knew. By far, it is the most frustrating game I have ever played. Bar none. Adult Swim Games starts off by offering a funny story full of hyperbole which makes fun of itself and the rest of the gaming industry. In fact, the very world the game takes place in, called GameEarth, is about creative as the story gets.
Rise is the name of a young boy who's gun, named Shine, is a legendary talking gun who makes fun of your every move. From ridiculing your countless respawns to constantly reminding you of how you're just a kid, it's a wonder how you don't lose hope playing the game.
It is the first shooter I've played that is also a puzzle game. Shine uses two bullet types in standard and electric. There are also two variant types that allow you to aim your bullets within certain areas or use a mortar type for enemies who dodge. Every single enemy uses a different attack type, so you are forced to constantly readjust your attack pattern. The constant need to change up your approach was enjoyed, and it kept things relatively fresh. It did quickly become a chore, which we'll cover in a second.
First, there are a number of things I enjoyed in Rise & Shine. The color palette is incredibly artsy to the point where you're reminded of Rise being "just a young boy". With all the shooting and deaths (and there are MANY of them), it's easy to forget that the character you're controlling was just ripped from his mother and has to defend them and his city from an attacker who wants to destroy him, and by the way just so happens to be his own father. It's some heavy stuff, but quickly gets forgotten. You see Rise & Shine points fun at its own heavy story by making constant jokes about everything in the game. It becomes more than evident that Rise & Shine's story isn't an emphasis at all for the overall point of the game, and it loses a bit of immersion because of it. As a whole, the game would have been better off without a story at all and left as a basic side scrolling puzzle shooter.
Due to the lack of focus on the story, I was forced to take in not only the lovely environment, but also the most torturous, sadistic gameplay I've experienced quite possibly ever. In my entire life. In any game. People who play Skyrim on Legendary with autosave turned off as an Elf would cower at Rise & Shine. Perhaps most annoyingly is the aiming system. Rise & Shine uses a clock type system in order to shoot. The main issue is there is no ability to fluidly wheel your aiming line around as it jumps from say, 1 o'clock to 2 o'clock in one shot, without making a solid circle. Normally it's too big of a deal when games do this as you can just adjust the position of your character to compensate. But remember, sadists made this game so that's not really plausible in Rise & Shine.
At many points I found myself having to move Rise due to the bad aiming so I could hit my target. Too often, however, were there so many enemies on screen that it was literally impossible for me not to die. I understand that glitches happen as its an unfortunate part of the game making process. What I won't accept is when a game makes you die in order to proceed. One example is the zombies. Rise has a dash move that lets you get past them before they get out of the ground. If you manage this, the zombies just walk backwards toward. Normally this would be easy as you would just shoot them in the head and be on with it. Zombies only take damage from the front, however, so this seemingly strategic move of aboiding an enemy is counter productive as you're actually forced to let them kill you so you can respawn and shoot them from the front. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for hard games and strategy in completing them, but glitches should in no way make you die in order to advance.
Although Rise & Shine clearly went too far with the enemy difficulty, the premise did have hope. You realize about a minute into the game that you can't simply run and gun through the levels. You'll need to use cover, all of your ammo variants and abilities. Regardless of how many times I died, which was realistically about three hundred for the whole game, I still maintained that "Ok, just one more try" mentality. I never got stuck because of a glitch, but my progress was lessened due to them. As a result, I kept chipping away little by little with progress until I eventually made it through each level.
At the end of the game, there is an ok story twist that kind of, almost makes it worth while. Unfortunately, it doesn't succeed and the overall self-awareness of Rise & Shine gets annoying. The game's best part is the art style. It sounds funny, but for so much death and dying in the game it sure makes it at least look pretty. Bright colors and delightful audio do cover up many of its downfalls, but most of them stick out too much and detract from the gameplay.
In fact, the only reason I actually finished Rise & Shine is because I couldn't let it beat me. A combination of bad glitches, non-chalant organization and lackluster gameplay really hold back what could have been a much better game. Overall, Rise & Shine had a lot of premise, but couldn't Rise over being just an average game and it didn't out Shine the competition in any way. Unless you're a diehard fan of these types of games, I suggest staying away from it.