Few games step out the bubble when making a sequel. Even fewer games seemingly pull it off with no issue. While it’s still early in the day, Risk Of Rain 2 is different, but the same. It pulls off its changes, but also kinda doesn’t.
For those of you who aren’t sure what Risk Of Rain 2 is, it’s a third-person roguelike. The third-person part of that is the biggest change from the first game too, considering it was 2D. Gone is the nimble platforming, for the most part, and instead you’re given a looping experience that, currently, lacks the charm of the original.
Gameplay-wise, Risk Of Rain 2 is currently very similar to its predecessor. Run through a semi-randomly generated map, kill enemies, use abilities, get item upgrades, and find a teleporter that’ll progress you to the next stage. I’ll give it credit, I was worried that the transition to 3D would completely trash what I loved about the original, but it works, for the most part.
See, with the original Risk Of Rain being 2D, you never really struggled to see anything, be it chest, money tube, or even the teleporter. Risk Of Rain 2, unfortunately, runs afoul of these by the very virtue of it being in 3D. Countless times I’ve had to loop around a map trying to find the teleporter to progress, before finding it half spawned in a tree.
More than once I’ve craftily angled my camera to look underwater to find any chests that have managed to spawn themselves lower than they should’ve. It’s an annoyance that should get fixed as development continues.
Old-school Risk Of Rainers will possibly remember how frustrating combat could occasionally be, when you just couldn’t quite get high enough to hit an enemy consistently. The change to a behind-the-character camera kills this issue completely because you can swing your camera around as fast as your mouse will allow! Jokes aside, this was another concern I had with the announcement of the change to 3D.
“Surely that’ll make combat so easy” I cried from the rooftops. I was wrong. See, being able to aim every possible way you can conceive does make aiming easier, but you’re now going to be attacked from every possible angle too. Enemies will be flying overhead, sniping you from a distance, or just trashing in you in a massive AOE and ruining your run.
As I hinted at earlier, Risk Of Rain 2 currently suffers from an issue where the game doesn’t actually end. Initially, I thought that was fine. “Roguelikes are about the journey, not the destination”, and I still believe that, but after more than a few “God” runs, where I was essentially unkillable, having no actual endgame state was a bummer. What’s worse, is after having runs where you get to this state, and for those interested, it was with the Engineer, is that it kills any need to have another run after it, because how can you top the hype you were just experiencing?
Players of the original Risk Of Rain will recognize their favorite 2D sprites have come to life. While they retain a certain charm in 3D, they, like many other things in Risk Of Rain 2 seem to lack definition. Again, this is only Early Access and there’s an arse-load of changes that are planned, so everything’s really subject to change, but I feel that the lack of definition on enemies and your character, we’ll get to that, is more a case of trying to stay too true to the original source material.
Consider this, Hopoo Games’ choice to leave things arguably undefined is actually them replicating the designs from the first game in as accurate detail as they can. In some ways, I actually find it admirable as you’ll instantly recognize enemies you’ve previously encountered in the original. But to a lesser degree, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that there’s not been a massive risk (of rain) in many of the designs.
Whilst I’m seemingly shitting on the graphic choices, from the available characters you can currently play and unlock, they all manage to look a little flat. Flat may be the wrong word. Lacking in definition? No, I’ve already used that. Fine, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi missing from them.
What’s actually very cool about the designs though, is the fact that every time you pick up an item, you’ll end up wearing it. Lens Makers Glasses? They’re on your face. Dio’s Best Friend? It’s on your back. It adds a level of customization that allows you to look a little different to your friends. Eventually, you’ll look a total mess, like you’ve covered yourself in glue and rolled through a local thrift store, but it’s a lovely touch, nonetheless.
Risk Of Rain 2 is shaping up to be on par with its original release. Bearing in mind that it’s still super Early Access, it’s a promising early look at a game that could keep me coming back for more. Judging by the menus, there’s still a ton of playable characters and items to add to the game as development continues. My only concern falls with it’s lack of an ending. If a few more stages are added before you hit the loop, then maybe it could be fine, but I guess that only time will tell.