Rise & Shine

EDGE - - STUDIO PROFILE - De­vel­oper Su­per Awe­some Hyper Di­men­sional Mega Team Pub­lisher Adult Swim For­mat PC, Xbox One (tested) Re­lease Out now

PC, Xbox One

Yes, OK, we get it: videogames. Barely a minute goes by in Rise & Shine with­out some kind of nod, wink, or top-of-the-lungs scream in ref­er­ence to its host medium. You play a child, Rise, who is bat­tling to save Gamearth from the in­vad­ing Grunts, with the help of Shine, a talk­ing, puz­zle-solv­ing pis­tol. Through­out there are ref­er­ences to the un­seen ‘guide’ – that’s you – help­ing the duo along. Rise is aware that he respawns when he fails. The fi­nal level of the game is called RPG City. At one point the dog from Duck Hunt pops up to det­o­nate a bridge you’re walk­ing over. On and on it goes: some gags hit and some fall flat, but all show how an at­tempt to be slyly self-ref­er­en­tial can of­ten come across as a lack of imagination. Of course you guys love videogames. You make them for a liv­ing.

Still, there’s plenty here to like in a game that suc­cess­fully blends twitchy, al­most bul­let-hell ar­cade ac­tion and tricksy puz­zle solv­ing, of­ten at the same time. The for­mer is made a lit­tle eas­ier with a dou­ble jump, speedy dash and the abil­ity to duck be­hind in­de­struc­tible cover, but com­pli­cated by the way this 2D game bor­rows from 3D shoot­ers: you pull the left trig­ger to aim, then use the right stick to line up your shots. You’ll need to reload, too – Shine’s clip holds just ten bul­lets at the out­set, though this can be up­graded as you progress – so there’s a real em­pha­sis on pick­ing your shots, which is an ex­act­ing task when it’s all you can do to stay alive in a hail of bul­lets. Some en­emy ord­nance can be shot out of the sky, but death comes easy and of­ten. Thank­fully, those thor­oughly meta respawns rarely set you back too far.

Puz­zles, mean­while, in­volve us­ing Shine’s ex­pand­ing toolset in in­creas­ingly tricksy ways. An al­ter­nate fire mode lets you slow a bul­let down and con­trol its flight path with the ana­logue stick; it can only be used in spe­cific places, where you’ll need to weave around to avoid ob­sta­cles, and of­ten line up a per­fect shot at the end, a fi­nal press of RT send­ing the bul­let at full speed to its tar­get. Later you’ll gain ex­plo­sive rounds and a grenade, which need to be used with pre­ci­sion.

This is not a long game, but it can of­ten feel like one: cer­tain com­bat sec­tions can only be com­pleted with what feels like a per­fect run, and you’ll of­ten credit the game with too much in­tel­li­gence in its puz­zle design. The con­stant tor­rent of videogame ref­er­ences is per­haps a mat­ter of taste, though there’s too much of it to­wards the end, when it feels as if the de­vel­op­ers are pad­ding things out with a shoutout to ev­ery game they loved as kids. It’s hard to find too much fault in a game that’s so in love with its inspirations, but Rise & Shine is at its best when it’s be­ing it­self.

In a turn against con­ven­tion, boss en­coun­ters are among the eas­ier chal­lenges in Rise & Shine, since big tar­gets make for easy aim­ing. As is so of­ten the case, it’s the lit­tle guys you need to watch out for

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