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    Rime: PS4 exclusive, Yorda one that I want

    While the sun kissed images of a young child trotting merrily about on a lush tropical island are all we’ve had to go on when pointing our retinas towards this Ico-like artisanal wonder, a recent chat with creative director Raúl Rubio reveals that it won’t be your typical day at the beach. The original inspiration for Rime, a PS4 exclusive from the Spanish developer of 360 exclusive Deadlight, comes from a darkly contrasting place.

    Back when he himself was a lad, rubio would head out alone to explore the deserted hills and ancient ruins of the old Kingdom of Navarre, perched on either side of the Pyrenees. Like something out of a videogame, he tells us he ended up “stranded in caves where the witches celebrated their akelarres [a Basque term meaning ‘covens’].” In fact, while the ‘witches’ of old Navarre may or may not have been real, the Inquisition had been actively putting these women to death back in the 1600s. Not the kind of locale a headstrong sprog would feel too comfortable getting lost in. It got worse. Like a hitchcockian nightmare, rubio “had to find the exit by using a camera flash to memorise the route and make my way in the dark.”

    Boy meets world
    That this childhood experience became so formative when it came to crafting rime emphasises its deceptively deep narrative aims. The island might look initially welcoming, but there are wells of meaning we’re intended to tap into and a sense of loss and sorrow underneath that Tequila Works teases us to explore. rubio muses that “the sense of exploration and discovery is confronted by our own fragility and what we leave behind. Everyone faces loss in a different way. But when we accept it, we are all the same. That’s rime.” So, yeah. Deep.
    “It’s about sensatIons the sound of seagulls squawkIng and what’s beyond that hIll”
    These highfalutin themes do much to flesh out our appreciation of where rime sprang from, but not what it’s actually about. as a young boy stranded, you’ll use a minimalist control scheme, which allows you to either shout or grab, to navigate and solve puzzles strewn across the Island. as to why we’re there and what it all means, rubio is coy. “We’re not trying to openly dictate to you who built the island or why,” he says, jokingly adding, “hint: there are no aliens in rime.

    “The world is filled with symbols and remnants and it’s up to players to create their own explanation. The story of rime can be approached not as ‘a kid stranded on a mediterranean island,’ but ‘how did you see the world as an eight-year-old?’”

    Good grief
    as if to drive home this sense of inferred storytelling, rime features no dialogue whatsoever. as such the island must play a huge part, both delivering the implied narrative and passively ushering you in the right direction while you explore. a solitary seagull flying through the sky might be all that’s needed to ensure players are drawn in a certain direction while still offering up a wider sense of freedom. One particular puzzle requires you to orientate the camera in order to align etchings on nearby tree trunks.

    “It’s not about rescuing the Princess or saving the world,” says rubio, “it’s about sensations like the breeze, the sound of the seagulls squawking, what’s beyond that hill… So the emotions and situations we present are more akin to a fable: a story with a structure so simple that anyone can understand it, but so deep and personal that its message can work on different layers and it will depend on what’s inside you.”

    It was so easy to get drawn in by the blue-green tides first shown lapping at these lush shores when rime made its  debut back at Gamescom 2013. Now that we’ve heard a little of where the game came from and where it intends to go, it’s fair to say we’re about ready to get exploring for ourselves.

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