It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Nintendo Switch. In particular, I appreciate how there seems to be some effort on Nintendo’s part to keep the hybrid console from turning into a haven for shovelware and crappy ports; the Wii had no shortage of great games and remains a classic to this day, but there were also plenty of awful bargain bin messes that polluted its library. That’s less prominent on the Switch.
Still, the odd nightmare port still shows up every now and then. First we had the absolutely abysmal Troll & I and now the third-person explore-’em-up RiME makes a rough landing on the platform.
You might recall RiME as the subject of one of this summer’s gaming non-troversies, this time involving the use of the Denuvo anti-piracy system that allegedly slowed the game down due to its poor implementation. When the game was cracked, Denuvo was removed, with indications being that this improved performance for some users. This is worth mentioning because I don’t really think Denuvo is what’s causing the performance issues that plague the Switch version of RiME – if it is, well, fool me once, shame on you, right?
If you aren’t familiar with RiME, it’s the latest in the time-honored tradition of games that are all about beautiful vistas and emotionally moving moments. If you’ve played Ico or Shadow of the Colossus, you’ve got an idea of what we’re going for here. We follow a nameless, caped protagonist and his magical fox buddy as they explore a mysterious island, solving simple puzzles that open doors and make sparkly things happen and gawking at the lovely environment as they go. Sometimes they explore side areas to find little collectible goodies. They do this for around five hours and then that’s that. There’s been a ton of games very much like this one released in the past few years, particularly because it’s a popular concept for indie developers, so RiME has some work to do to stand out.
Therein lies the issue – it’s entirely possible to make a game that’s all about beautiful graphics, simple platforming and low-concept puzzles that focus on intuition rather than wrapping one’s head around a complex set of rules. That formula can work; I’m not going to pretend to be a gigantic fan of it, as a video game has never made me feel anything but hungry, but there are plenty of folks out there who go gaga for this sort of game. The issue is that your graphical masterpiece needs to look and run great so that the presentation can be the star of the show, and RiME on Switch, well…it doesn’t. It mostly runs relatively poorly, in fact, suffering framerate issues and some sort of ghosting or blurriness all over the place. While RiME is by no means unplayable, particularly in handheld mode, the issue is that this isn’t a game that should be taxing the Switch the way that it seemingly does. Look at Super Mario Odyssey for an example of a much better-looking game that runs just fine…and yet here we are.
RiME itself isn’t necessarily a bad game, though again, it’s not something I’d recommend for anyone seeking more traditional gameplay or a deep experience that will last awhile. Having messed around with the PC version, in fact, it’s actually rather pretty, which is a great quality for a game that’s all about looking great. On the Switch, though…yeah, the apparent treatment of this port as a second priority was a questionable move. It’s not the worst port available on the Switch – that honor goes to Troll and I, which was a worse game besides – but a little more love could have gone a long way here.