With the booming success of Risk of Rain 2, I felt that not enough attention was given to its predecessor, Risk of Rain, which laid down the framework that Risk of Rain 2 built upon. Instead of travelling around a 3D plane as you would in its sequel, Risk of Rain is a 2D sidescroller. Despite this distinct change, the two games function very much the same, and both are worth playing.
To those new to the concept of Risk of Rain, the player must, in short, survive in an unknown planet full of dangerous monsters. The longer the game goes on for, the harder it gets, exponentially increasing in difficulty. The player chooses one of several survivors to play and must use their skillset to survive in this hostile world. Luckily the player has one great boon to help them survive – items. Most items add passive effects to your character, from minor things such as increasing your attack speed or making you move faster, to far more impactful effects, such as making your enemies explode on death or freezing time when you are in danger. These items are very special, though. Their effects all stack. Infinitely. One minor movement speed buff may not be game changing, but a hundred of them? You’ll be zooming across the map in seconds.
At the start, you are weak and vulnerable in a world of monsters, and as you struggle with each new boss or wave of enemies that spawn, you slowly and steadily become stronger, until eventually, an hour and a half in, you become a machine of destruction that destroys everything in your sight. The game tests you on your gameplay skill, your ability to make split second decisions and the ability to plan ahead.
To progress to the next stage you must activate a teleport and survive for ninety seconds. While the teleporter is active, enemies spawn at a much higher rate, along with a boss … or two … or a dozen. Activating the teleporter early will mean that you will face easier enemies, but doing that could limit the amount of gold you can earn to buy items, so it is important to try and find a good balancing point for the best time to progress to the next level. Regardless of speed, difficulty really ramps up on the third to fourth stages, and it is usually these stages that will decide the difference between a success or failure.
Out of all the amazing stages, few come close to the brilliance of the final stage and the final boss. Set on the same ship you crash landed from, you must face off against the last of the alien forces and take on Providence, the final boss. Aside from the difficulty and the design of this stage that makes it so enjoyable, this is where the music reaches its peak, taking on a calming, office-esque beat. Chris Christodoulou’s soundtrack is one of the highlights of this game and really helps make you feel that you are stranded on an alien planet. All the sounds are strange, curious, and somewhat barren in their approach, and it is this change in tone for the last stage that makes it all the more exciting.
If you are looking for a punishing and unforgiving rogue-like, look no further. Risk of Rain will entertain you for hours, and when you think of doing just ‘one more run’, you’ll be there for another two.