Rive is the story of a space scavenger named Roughshot who gets trapped in a strange starship while searching for glorious loot. Along the way he has to make an alliance with the A.I. controlling the ship, hack shoot and destroy enemy bots, and eventually find a way off. Going into Rive I truly didn’t know what to expect from this Twin Stick shooter. Does Rive play on nostalgia like an R-Type or Life Force side scroller shooter? Would it feel akin to something like Resogun, or Super Stardust? Or, is it something entirely different? Well, I have to tell you it’s all three and then some.
YOU. ARE. GOING. TO. DIE.
While Rive starts out as what you would expect, a space shooter in zero gravity, it quickly changes into a platforming side scroller. So aside from already being bad at these types of games, I had to also contend with the fact that Rive can be extremely difficult. On top of that while most twin stick shooters don’t require jumping and platforming, Rive does. While Rive actually manages to do the platforming well it requires you to jump with the L2 trigger, shoot with the right stick, control movement with the left stick, all while making sure you don’t fall off of the platforms while shooting at a multitude of enemies coming at you from all angles, which is just like this run-on sentence. Brutal. There are a few controller options but the default is the best one of the bunch. Once you get past the controls and the difficulty, you have a fun little gem here that is extremely rewarding when you pull off a nice string of kills and finally get past a difficult section or boss.
Fire the laser!
The upgrade system in Rive is fairly standard. After each section you get to spend your loot, which Roughshot makes sure to let you know that what he’s here for, on upgrading weapons, health or new special weapons. The four special weapons that are toggled by the sacred square, triangle X, and O, come in handy from time to time but are limited to carrying just one at a time and only using one at a time. I would have felt like much more of a metal wrecking robot hacker if I had access to all of these at all times. Speaking of hacking, the “hack” button is relegated to R2 and is used to hack robots, switches and enemies alike. You can hack specific enemy robots to act as a companion cannon and once they run out of ammo self destruct. You also have neutral robots that you can hack. Some of these act as a medic and heal you in the heat of battle. Lastly, you hack switches. A lot of the hacking of switches is done mid-jump to deploy an anti gravity bubble so you can traverse the ship. Luckily when you do this, time slows down to allow you to fully hack the switch. Had this not been a thing I would have easily rage quit Rive out of sheer frustration.
Overall Rive is a fun twin stick shooter with somewhat awkward controls, a standard upgrade mechanic and some pretty sweet visuals. While it can be downright frustrating at times, it is very rewarding when you finally get past that difficult section. Rive also has some pretty nice replayability via the “Single Credit” and “Speed Run” modes. The only question is will you stick around long enough to truly enjoy it?