Risk of Rain is a 2D platforming shooter that puts you on a hostile planet full of alien creatures. The enemies are randomly added and spawn in. While the game claims to have procedurally generated levels, after 7+ hours of play, you start to recognize that there are random levels with extra frills on them to make them feel as if they were generated. The object of each level is to make it to the teleporter that is randomly placed somewhere on the map. Once you activate it, you need to survive for 90 seconds. A countdown clock appears and soon after a boss emerges and you get swamped with enemies that spawn into the area. A lot of times they spawn on you. Once the 90 seconds are up, then you need to kill the remaining creatures including the boss before you hop in the teleporter to the next level.
Along the way you’ll find plenty of items and power ups that do some interesting and fun things. Some give you a chance to make enemies freeze, bleed or slow down. Others help with regenerating your health. Another will a barbed wire shield around you while others turn dead enemies into ghosts that will fight for you. There are dozens of these items. You don’t just keep one, they stack, so you can end up with a dozen on you and not just that, but if you get the same one on the same play through they increase the effectiveness. Two feathers means you can now jump twice in the air instead of just once.
Its more than just passive items, there are usable items that will do things like shoot a cluster of missiles, replenish your health or unlock all the treasure chests on screen. These items have a very long cool down timer, usually around a 45 – 60 seconds. You can even spend money to repair drones that either shoot bullets, lasers or heal you with a green beam. They’re so nice to have, especially two of them.
You’ll find these items from beating bosses, in treasure chests, stores, imp statues and chance statues. The stores give you a choice of three items. Once you buy one, all three disappear. The treasure chests give you a random item and cost gold to open it. The chance statues and imp statues also cost gold. As you get to higher levels, the amounts increase. The chance statues are just that, a chance to get an item. Sometimes these statues cost you health. The more you try, the higher the price. The imp statues release five imps that simply run away from you and you need to kill them all to get your prize. These are all ways to keep the game interesting.
The controls are simple, you can move left and right, climb up and down on ladders and jump. Each character has four abilities. Three of which have cool downs. So you have unlimited ammunition, just a timer before you can use them again. To start, you’ve got a standard fire button that shoots a short burst each half a second. Its not like a machine gun, but at least you can hold down the trigger. Rapidly pulling the trigger will shoot faster, but only if the gun animation has gone away. So not all characters will shoot faster. Depending on the character you have all sorts of range and damage output.
From there, you’ve got a defensive move. The commando has a combat roll to go through enemies. The enforcer has a shield that he will drop down making him incredibly slow, but protected from the front. The Bandit has a smoke bomb that makes him invincible for three seconds. Enemies stop chasing you and so on. There are 9+ other characters, but well after 7+ hours, that’s all I was able to unlock. These different characters really feel a lot different from one another.
What I really don’t like is a few times if I want to quickly turn and fire. I’ll turn enough so my character will start moving the other way, but when I fire, he will turn around to shoot, then keep running the way he was directed. It seems to happen pretty consistently, especially as the bandit. Even dropping the guardian’s shield he will turn around to drop the shield. It is just odd. It has cost me lives and wasted abilities, not to mention special weapons that I need to wait 45 seconds to reuse.
You have a good amount of health and it regenerates very slowly over time. Of course every enemy has a good amount of health too. This makes weapons feel pretty powerless. It takes several shots to take down lesser enemies and with larger enemies that have more health, I found myself sitting there just waiting. Perfectly safe, but waiting far too long for my character to kill them. Luckily there is a leveling up system that will give you more health and damage output, but as the clock ticks away, the enemies get stronger and more powerful. Its just really dull having to kill a clump of five strong enemies all batched together. I could put a rubber band on my 360 controller and walk away for a minute. The game just feels like one big grind. You can always get items that add a chance of homing missiles or a chance of mortars, but even then it doesn’t help all that much.
The game feels slow getting from point A to point B. I’d dread knowing that I’d have to go back somewhere. The character feels like he moves slow, the weapons feel powerless. Its not quick action like Contra or Mega Man. Its all deliberate to prolong the experience. You have a nice wide view of the area, so you get a better sense of where to go, because your character is so slow that if you zoomed in on the action, it would take that much longer to find where you’re going. I’m just happy that the experience and gold that falls from enemies automatically flies to you from wherever it is. Having to pick it up would be painful.
Like in the real world, you only have one life. When you die, that’s it you need to start over, but hopefully you’ve made it far enough on your previous play through to unlock new items that you’ll find in future play throughs. It always drives you to keep going like oo a new thing. Now all I need to do is play again and hope to randomly find it somewhere.
The enemies are pretty brainless, that’s what allows them to just let me shoot them. I think because they all have so much health they need to be brainless. There are some enemies smart enough to jump up onto platforms to follow you and chase you around, but they’re not smart enough to jump over gaps. Floating jellyfish will seek you out, fly through platforms and dart toward you at some point. The bosses are pretty iffy as well.
When you get to the teleporter and enemies start transporting in, I found myself getting randomly overwhelmed, because the foes would spawn in on top of me. So then I’d have to run away and keep moving for the 90 seconds or I’d quickly be dead. You don’t get brief invincibility when you get hit. Enemies can keep right in you attacking unless you’re fast enough to run away or use one of the defensive tactics like roll, smoke bomb or drop a shield. Even if you get good at running away, at some point, there are enemies that can teleport straight on you. Just poof, they’re now in you. Do you shoot left or right? Well you occupy the same space, so your guess is as good as mine.
As for the music and graphics, both are great. The music excels at being something spacy and other worldly. The graphics look small and old school. I think these two came together to improve the experience I had and made me want to stay in game, because I know it was a struggle against the grind.
If you want to play cooperatively, you’ll need to have a friend with you, have a LAN connection or an IP address. There is no play through Steam. I’m not sure if I enjoyed the game. Even playing with a friend, it wasn’t that fun. I hate to be the only person that didn’t enjoy the game. I don’t feel like I had fun playing the game, when this game should be right up my alley. I like random stuff, I like good combat and somewhat random levels, but I just feel like I would have enjoyed it more with a faster pace.