Rise & Shine (XB1) Review

Lots of style and frustration.

From a distance, Rise & Shine looks exactly like my type of game. A gorgeous 2D side-scrolling shooter, packed with silly game references, and cartoon gore. The opening moments also reinforce that by leading players through a humorous tutorial that pokes fun at its own plot holes. However, the longer I spent with the game, the more I got frustrated with its design and mechanics.

Players take on the role of a young boy named Rise. In the opening moments of the game he obtains a special gun named, you guessed it, Shine. The gun is given to him by a hero who claims the gun will grant him infinite lives. This is an example of the game poking fun at itself, as Rise then proceeds to ask the hero why it didn’t work for him. There are several instances in the game like this, and they are actually handled surprisingly well.

MSRP: $14.99
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PC
Price I’d Pay: $9.99

As I mentioned, on paper this game sounds great. Left-to-right, run and gun action, but the mechanics don’t match the design. Players can pull the left trigger and it brings up an aiming line. During this time Rise actually slows down his movement speed. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but the enemies in this game are hectic. Lots of bullets flying around, and focusing on the aiming reticule led to many frustrating deaths.

The game mixes up attacks by adding abilities to the gun itself. Players will gain access to special bullet types, and even the ability to direct bullets in limited space. Again, these ideas are sound, and involve some truly unique puzzles, but I found myself dealing with bad design. For example, one of the first bosses requires electrical bullets to pass. I had to stop, wait for an animation to finish, then try to aim and take my shot before the lock-on happened again. It was tedious and led to the experience being less challenging, and more annoying than anything else.

Challenging games don’t usually bother me if they are designed well, but Rise & Shine has a couple issues, including long death animations and loading that takes just long enough to be annoying. If I instantly respawned, it would be easy to get back into the action, but as it stands I find myself frustrated. Also, if I left a level to come back later, it was back to the beginning. The checkpoints were great, but only if I did’t quit the game mid-level.

The biggest problem with Rise & Shine is that the difficulty is not always on the player’s skill level, or the mechanics. The game gives players some abilities, but they never progress as much as the enemy encounters. Tactics remain the same, and let’s not even talk about the final boss. This is a test of frustration that could take over an hour or more to complete. Not due to skill, but due to cheap deaths and poor progression on abilities. It feels like there simply should have been more available to the player.

Rise & Shine looked like an early sleeper for 2017, but its design holds it back more often than not. I wanted to love it, but after banging my head against it for the short duration it lasts, it wasn’t worth the tedium.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Gorgeous art style
  • Some neat mechanics
  • Restarts take too long
  • Frustrating final boss
  • Mechanics don't mesh with design
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.