RIVE (PlayStation 4) Review

By Josh Di Falco 17.10.2016

Review for RIVE on PlayStation 4

Every so often, a new cool video game releases that threatens to push players to their absolute limit in both skill and patience. Sometimes it successfully pulls it off, while other times it is downright infuriating. Two Tribes' final game, RIVE, arguably pulls off the challenging difficulty with the manic speed and intensity that only a side-scrolling shooter can bring. Play as a swashbuckling space explorer named Roughshot who breaks into an empty spacecraft looking for loot. Upon boarding, he encounters a crazed AI who awakens enemy robots on the ship intent on preventing his escape.

While RIVE can easily come across as unfair at times, it is quite careful in where it places its traps, as each section flows seamlessly to the next. The enemy robots take various forms, and they get progressively harder and more sophisticated in their attack patterns. Defeating these enemies relies on a heap of patience and constant practice, especially as the enemies increase in numbers. Roughshot dies a lot, and most of the time it relies totally on a mixture of skill, speed and luck. Do not be afraid to spend up to thirty minutes on a particular section; however, to some that might sound less appealing, and really trying on patience.

The platforming sections generate plenty of memories of old-school games that were soul crushing at times, due to mistimed jumps or split-section reactions that result in death. However, the difficulty gets even worse when the platforming sections contain the threats of enemy robots, and being able to multitask between navigating through the stages while shooting down enemies can be a bit cumbersome.

Screenshot for RIVE on PlayStation 4

RIVE understands that it is a tough game, and it purposely displays reminders of weakness and being soft upon dying. The default difficulty is hard mode, but upon constant dying, the game will offer the chance to lower the difficulty setting to 'soft mode.' This is a further taunt to the player; some may find this amusing and funny, while others may not take too kindly to being made fun of. In truth, though, RIVE is a game that doesn't take itself seriously, and it needs to be approached this way to gain a true appreciation of the sense of feeling that it tries to convey.

RIVE is full of humour and jovial japes that tend to break the fourth wall. While it sometimes pulls off the jokes well, the game is too self-aware at times, and as such, some of the supposed funny moments do seem to be a bit much; turning down the jokes to a degree would have served it better. RIVE contains funny moments when it knocks other genres of video games. For instance, at one stage, Roughshot mentions how controlling a side-scroller is easier and preferred to a first-person shooter, due to the versatility of being able to fire bullets in any direction at ease, while towards the end, the title dedicates a part of a stage to the survival horror genre, which is done quite well.

Screenshot for RIVE on PlayStation 4

Defeated enemies drop bolts, which act as the currency of the game. After every stage, Roughshot has the opportunity to upgrade his walking spider tank. Upgrades to the HP bar or the bolt magnet have two upgrades each, while four further upgrades results in new abilities that can easily change the flow of a battle and are super helpful in certain scenarios. Performing these special abilities requires collecting a cache that is dropped by enemies or found in destructible boxes and they can only be used once, thus requiring further caches in order to use them again. However, conserving the special abilities is not needed, due to the high drop rate of the caches in battles. This eliminates the urgency of using them in critical moments as a new cache drop is almost always going to happen. These purchases are tied to the "warp room," which acts as a hub level of sorts, where all the other stages are initiated from.

Roughshot also earns story-related abilities in the way of hacks. These hacks are used to open new pathways and doors, or to turn enemy turrets into helpful allies and an extra shooting partner. Gaining a friendly turret as an ally can turn the tide of battle; however, the hack is only limited to the turrets, and as such, regular enemy AI bots cannot be swayed to Roughshot's service.

Screenshot for RIVE on PlayStation 4

Upon completing the game, RIVE offers further chances for testing the nerves in two additional modes. Replay the game in a speedrun environment, where the clock displays at the top of the screen in a race to the finish, while the second mode challenges even the toughest of players to complete the game with a single life.

Visually, RIVE is a beautiful achievement with the constant splatter of colours on the screen. The battles are fierce and fast, and explosions galore constantly litter the screen. To its credit, there are no slowdowns when there is a huge influx of enemies on the screens, and RIVE does a great job in balancing out the colour palette against the backdrop of the stage designs to prevent getting distracted by the carnage on display. Roughshot rarely gets lost on the screen in the midst of the crescendo of visuals, and this is a credit to the art department.

Screenshot for RIVE on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

RIVE is a fantastic shoot 'em up game that will push the limits of patience and fortitude. Roughshot, the main character who traverses the stages in a spider tank, dies a lot. Because of this, certain battles may take up to or over thirty minutes of constant dying and trying again before the moment of victory comes. It is extremely satisfying when these moments occur, but it can be hard to be persistent when the game can feel like it is unfair at times.


Two Tribes


Two Tribes


2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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