RIVE Review: Side Scrolling Fun

RIVE, a new twin-stick side scrolling shooter from Dutch developer Two Tribes, is alas, the studio’s final game. The company has been around since 2001 and is most known for the Toki Tori games. As far as swan songs go, Two Tribes did a great job.

RIVE takes you right into the action from the start as a space salvager named Roughshot in a crazy spider-like tank. Players shoot constantly in 360 degrees with the right control stick as a plethora of objects are thrown at you in unforgiving and challenging levels.

Using the left stick explores a huge derelict spaceship. The ship is home to an odd robot caretaker that antagonizes Roughshot throughout. Apparently he got bored and decided to build these “tests” as he calls them. He seems to enjoy making you stay and play his games, sort of like GLaDOS.

Along the way players pick up experience that they can use to purchase upgrades to armor and weapons. You can attach these special attacks to your right trigger and alternate through them via the X, square, triangle, and circle buttons.

At some points the game is a standard flying side-scroller, when gravity isn’t around. When gravity is in play, you must be nimble with your jumps (Left trigger) and move quickly up and down pipes and other tricky situations, all while being chased, shot at and firing your weapons the entire time. It is intense!

When I say RIVE is difficult, that’s an understatement. It is brutally hard. I have been playing these kinds of shooters for most of my life and I still found some parts took me many, many attempts to get past. You know a game isn’t playing around when the only mode available at the start menu is “Hard Mode.” My thumbs are still sore as I write this.

While only being based inside the one space ship, Two Tribes did a fantastic job making the game still seem very large and diverse. The levels are well designed and enemies are constantly changing along with the environments. Roughshot manages to pick up “hacks” for various bots he can control and are necessary to get past some obstacles or give you an edge by healing your tank, or providing some extra firepower. You will NEED them.


RIVE is beautiful for a side-scroller. There are times I was amazed at how many things were on the screen at once. The music and sound are nothing really special but if players keep dying in a section and are then repeatedly hearing the same line over and over after each death, it gets irritatingly repetitive.

The story and writing are basic. As Roughshot tries to be funny along the way, there are many pop culture and other video game references that just come out corny and the humor isn’t needed. I also feel that RIVE could of benefited in a longer more “classic Metroid” style weapon and exploration system. It could have easily warranted a bigger release if this was done right. What we get is a short, linear experience instead.

If you are looking for a challenging old school side-scroller and don’t get frustrated easily, the rewards are a great, if short game with well thought out boss battles, nail biting, edge of your seat excitement and overall a wonderful final game for Two Tribes.

RIVE is available now for PS4 and PC via STEAM. This review is based on a PS4 copy provided for review purposes.

RIVE Review
out of 5

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