As far as video game settings go, Rise & Shine‘s comic-esque locale couldn’t be more appropriately designed. Its setting, Gamearth, a gorgeously detailed 2D world, comes under brutal attack when its peaceful residents are invaded by an army of space grunts wishing to make war not peace with the locals. At the centre of the drama is Rise, a young boy and would-be hero who unknowingly stumbles into ownership of Shine, a weapon so unique and devastating in its very creation, that its mere existence in this world possesses the capability of turning the tides of battle in the favour of Gamearth.
Rise & Shine: Xbox One [Reviewed], PC
Developer: Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Release Date: 13 January 2017
Price: £11.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer]
Developed by Super Mega Team and published by Adult Swim Games, Rise & Shine follows the story of a young upstart who together with his newly acquired sidekick Shine, a weapon that offers its owner the God-like blessing of infinite respawns, will look to take the fight straight to the enemy in an attempt to rid the planet of its alien invaders. At the centre of its beating heart, Rise & Shine is a side-scrolling 2D platform action shooter that combines a foray of bullets, blood splattered brutality with more classic video game nostalgia than you could possibly shake a stick at.
Duck Hunt, Flappy Bird, Portal, Mario, Gears of War; Rise & Shine wears its inspiration proudly on its sleeve, and yet despite pulling on more iconic titles then it should do, and an incredibly short duration, provides fast-paced gun touting action in the most pleasing of settings.
Starting out inside an almost deserted shopping mall, Rise‘s boy-to-hero journey will take him on a bullet tingling adventure across an unforgiving land, where the player must keep their wits about them at all times to progress.
With the odds seemingly stacked against him, Rise starts out on his quest with low ammunition and basic firepower but can increase his ammo holdings and bullet variation by opening chests found in different levels, he is also taught new ways with which to utilise each shot; from managing its flight and direction to navigate tight pathways with precision to blowing up particularly large enemies with a shot designed to detonate on impact. Learning how to use these shot styles and capitlise on Shine’s unique abilities as a weapon play a major part in the game and are pivotal to player progression.
Quick reflexes are also needed, without the ability to react in a timely manner players could all-too-soon find themselves out of their depth, struggling to adapt to Rise & Shine‘s frantic style of gameplay. Specific enemies happen to be purely designed for this exact and often annoying purpose; swarming the player, making for uneasy moments of chaotic and claustrophobic combat, where to evade enemy attacks the player must dash, using all of his speed to elude gunfire arriving from all directions while patiently awaiting the right time to respond in retort.
While it lacks a script or story to match its fantastic look, Rise & Shine‘s gameplay remains as thrilling as it is challenging; a mixture of fast, fluid and satisfying combat with puzzle platforming element that requires quick reflexes to overcome.
However, for all its eagerness to please with fast-paced action driven combat, the somewhat short experience is sadly marred by frequently forcing young Rise to hide behind less than adequate cover in a painful homage to Gears of War‘s cover system, which leaves players ducking in and out of fire to bat shots back at enemies, who quickly close in on the characters location, removing what little protection there was to begin with.
It all feels a little unnecessary, and with a mere two shots required to end a life, and timing plus aim vital, these highly tense fought firefights have a real sense of unfairness or cruelty to them, halting what momentum the game had.
Rise & Shine‘s controls work quite well in tandem with one another, whether you’re smashing your way through its surprisingly short 2-3 hour campaign or experiencing pure rage with its Iron Man mode that removes checkpoints entirely following each death. A twin-stick action shooter where the player character is forced to remove not only groups of enemies but strings and strings of bullets, which fall from the skyline like tiny but devastatingly dangerous raindrops, Rise & Shine makes good use of the Xbox One controller to manoeuvre Rise at speed with both analog sticks used to shift and aim your weapon, while the bumper and shoulder buttons can be used to shoot and switch out bullet and shot style to suit the occasion.
Rise & Shine boasts one of the most gorgeously detailed looks I’ve seen in a video game, with an eye-catching hand-drawn comic book aesthetic that will no doubt please many a gamer. Not content with simply looking pretty, Rise & Shine also handles well, with control mechanics that, although a little tough to handle at times, feel fluid and ultimately rewarding despite a few niggles while aiming at enemies. Sadly, though, looks and feel will only get you so far, and with a bland story, incredibly short duration, over saturation of classic video game nods and throwing in a poor cover system just for nostalgia’s sake, Rise & Shine is an action shooter that packs a punch but is not without its shortcomings.