Risk of Rain has a progression curve and randomness that turns the initial grind into pointless time-wasting, but once you start to unlock items this game comes into its own.  Worthwhile for fans of the roguelike genre."
Risk of Rain
Date published: Feb 13, 2014
2 / 3 stars

Editor's Note: Some spelling errors have been revised since the original publishing of this review.

Risk of Rain is a rouge-lite platformer game developed and published by Chucklefish.  Risk of Rain is definitely a hard one to review for me. I find it a rather frustrating game that I continually return to playing and I was left having a hard think on why that is, both in terms of the frustration and in terms of why I keep returning. Risk of Rain has been something of a mixed bag for me.

Someone looking at my other reviews - Teleglitch or SotS: The Pit - will see I'm no stranger to roguelike games and I quite enjoy them. I don't really find them usually too frustrating and they haven't really seen any ragequits. But Risk of Rain has. Why is that? I think it basically comes down to the fact that the feeling I get from the game is very much that the random nature of the game is such that if you do not get favourable drops pretty much fairly all the way through you're going to have a very difficult time even at the normal difficulty. This wouldn't be so bad if the easy difficulty didn't penalise you for using it - your progression is not saved when you use the easy mode. I'm of two minds when it comes to that difficulty. One one hand, the difficulty is one of the definite genre staples of roguelikes. On the other hand, other roguelikes I've enjoyed had an element of definite skill to them whereby even with a poor random seed you can still get by if you are really, really good. Risk of Rain definitely feels exceptionally unforgiving in that random aspect. It's something to bear in mind. If you're looking for a more "rogue light" experience, Risk of Rain is assuredly not what you are looking for, but if you enjoy a challenge, I think you will probably find that attractive in Risk of Rain. It most certainly has that in spades.

Speaking of difficulty, one of the more unique mechanics in Risk of Rain is the idea that the difficulty level increases across incremental levels as time elapses, whether or not you are active. This creates a palatable tension and as much as I have my difficulty with the random aspect, this particular aspect is something I really like about the game. There is no rest break in this game, you have to keep going or something will murder you horribly, and that much definitely is a very roguelike thought indeed. I quite enjoy that part of it.

The biggest strength of the game lies in it's audiovisual style however. It has a very strong and fairly unique aesthetic that is well executed. I'm actually kind of sad there isn't a soundtrack DLC as I'd buy it in a heartbeat: the soundtrack is utterly captivating and very well composed. The game itself uses a very "retro" pixel art style, but pulls it off well, and the art in some of the monster logs available through the menu are very well-done examples of that particular style. I just adore the aesthetic of the game, and when I sit and consider why I keep coming back, its to delve a little more into that world and the lore that surrounds it. It's strange for a roguelike but I get a good feeling of exploration in learning the environment and it's lore.

All in all, it's a very difficult game so if you're looking for a more casual experience, I couldn't reccomend it, but if you enjoy a challenge to your game, Risk of Rain does indeed offer a challenging and carefully-crafted experience that you would be very silly to at least not give a spin.</p