PC Reviews

Risk of Rain: Co-Opinion Review

Risk of Rain 2013-12-01 12-17-24-47
My Fair Gamer
Written by My Fair Gamer

While Risk of Rain can seem overwhelming and potentially even unfair to unskilled players, it’s excellent art design, catchy soundtrack, wide variety of funny and unique items, playful sci-fi alien aesthetic, and chaotic explosive action is entertaining for all comers. Co-op recommendations aside, it’s a fantastic throwback to old-school shooters of the past and can present a formidable challenge to even the most seasoned of players.

Risk of Rain is a side-scrolling action platformer for the PC. It combines the punishing one-death and randomization rules of a rogue-like with the freneticism of a 16-bit run and gun title to make for some pretty intense action. You pick from up to 8 different classes of character, each with their own unique play style and set of abilities. Every character has one action that is able to be used repeatedly at-will; the others are always on some determined cool down time; so the main crux of the gameplay becomes juggling your skills and using them when most appropriate. This kind of mental agility is easy for most gamers, but there will probably be a learning curve for players who are not used to the cool down mechanic.

Additionally, the ways in which classes are unlocked is slightly obtuse and not especially easy. So while the de facto ‘Commando’ class is an all-round easy to play with character, there may be other classes that suit your or your partner’s play style more. But finding that out requires a not insignificant amount of time invested into the game.

Accenting your abilities is a randomized power-up system that eventually encompasses over 100 items with different and unique effects. Each of these items are accompanied with an amusing graphical icon and short comical description and discovering them becomes just as fun as playing the game itself. The bulk of these power-ups are obtained through opening chests, accessing storage containers, or praying to shrines, each of which cost money that is earned when enemies are defeated. When you’ve picked-up your fair share of them and there are at least a dozen different effects going every time you squeeze the trigger, your tiny hero becomes a veritable storm of destruction.

Risk of Rain - Power-up Inventory

However in co-op play, dying is not the end of your game. If the surviving player manages to complete the level and move to the next area, you will be resurrected, albeit with the power-ups and level you were at when you died. This means that repeated deaths by the same character can quickly leave them under-powered for the increasingly difficult areas. It can also leave the dead player waiting for upwards of 10 to 15 minutes. A kind of ‘revival’ mechanic wherein you spend some of your earned money to revive a fallen comrade would solve this issue immediately. The flip-side of this issue is choosing whether to give the skilled player all of the power-ups, effectively becoming a protector of the other player, or to do the opposite and offset your partner’s lack of skill with stat and health bonuses.

Along with its rather unique system of power-ups, Risk of Rain employs a unique difficulty mechanic to ensure that you are never too far ahead of the curve. Difficulty gradually increases with the current session’s play time. Thus, the game becomes a risk (of rain) vs. reward scenario of spending extra time in a level to find more power-ups, or activating the level-ending boss and survival encounter to move onto the next area. Spend too long looking for treasure, and the game will quickly become unmanageable before you’ve made much progress. Blaze through too quickly, and you will find yourself underpowered for the harder stages.

Risk of Rain: Co-op play

Certain aspects of the game will scale depending on the number of players (up to a maximum of 4), but the overall difficulty (of which there are 3 modes) does not. So the addition of another player, however skilled, is welcome. The extra damage really makes a difference in keeping the ever-growing horde at bay. There is no friendly fire, but it is a little easy to get lost in the commotion, so communication is key between players. One of the downsides of playing co-op locally is that the game does not support any kind of split-screen, so when either or both characters leave the boundaries of the screen, there is only an icon showing their relative position. However, it is almost never advisable to venture off alone given the game’s rather high level of difficulty so this issue rarely presents a problem.

While Risk of Rain can seem overwhelming and potentially even unfair to unskilled players, it’s excellent art design, catchy soundtrack, wide variety of funny and unique items, playful sci-fi alien aesthetic, and chaotic explosive action is entertaining for all comers. Co-op recommendations aside, it’s a fantastic throwback to old-school shooters of the past and can present a formidable challenge to even the most seasoned of players.

Risk of Rain is currently available on Steam or directly from the developer Hopoo Games for $10.

Risk of Rain: Co-Opinion
  • Learning Curve:
  • Learning Curve:
  • Player Roles:
  • Player Roles:
  • The Game Itself:
  • The Game Itself:
  • Does it Co-Op?
  • Does it Co-Op?
Overall:

Summary

While Risk of Rain can seem overwhelming and potentially even unfair to unskilled players, it's excellent art design, catchy soundtrack, wide variety of funny and unique items, playful sci-fi alien aesthetic, and chaotic explosive action is entertaining for all comers. Co-op recommendations aside, it's a fantastic throwback to old-school shooters of the past and can present a formidable challenge to even the most seasoned of players.

About the author

My Fair Gamer

My Fair Gamer

Sean has been gaming since 1988 when, at the age of five, his father brought the entire family down to the electronics department of Montgomery Ward to purchase an NES Family Pack. Sean's first two games were Contra and Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. Bloody Tears is to this day his favorite game theme of all time. He has oscilliated between being a console and a PC gamer for the past 15 years or so, but has squarely put himself in the PC camp for the time being. He primarily enjoys single-player campaigns and co-operative games and will play just about anything except hardcore simulation or real-time strategy titles.

He also enjoys electronic music of all kinds, being an amateur photographer, plying his skill at graphic design by profession, and knows just enough Japanese to get him into trouble. His favorite game of all time is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. His favorite co-op game(s) is the Earth Defense Force series.

Leave a Comment