Read on for our full Rinlo review, a recently released third-person platforming puzzle game for PC VR. It launched into Early Access earlier this year and has now since reached full release this month.
Rinlo is a third-person puzzle game that also occasionally asks you to do some platforming and make your way through stealth sections. You take control of Agatha, a girl abandoned to an orphanage early on in her life for reasons that she doesn’t know.
It’s a pretty heart-breaking opening, especially if you happen to have a little one yourself. The idea that anybody would give up their kids is hard to wrap your head around, and it hits pretty hard. Of course, if you don’t have kids, it might not have quite the same impact, but I think we can all agree it’s sad.
Well, it’d be even sadder if you could move the camera around a little bit. The opening demands a little bit of platforming, and for some reasons, I just couldn’t get the jump right the first couple of times. As a result, I had to watch dear Agatha stand up slowly multiple times. This is an experience you’ll likely have to deal with a lot because you’re probably going to die a lot.
You’ll regularly find yourself doing a jump you know you can make, only to find that Agatha has bounced off of a rail or something and ended up falling into the void. You then have to wait for it to load again, potentially watch whatever bit of dialogue the area started with, and then do it all over again. It’s frustrating.
The platforming sections and general exploration makes up the majority of your time with Rinlo, so having them be anything less than fine is a big problem if you’re hoping to enjoy the game. Not every platforming section is bad, and not every area I explored felt like the camera was in the wrong place, but it was common enough that I’d wager more are bad than are good.
Outside of the dodgy platforming are the puzzles. These are first person affairs, and involve you doing things like memory puzzles, or dexterity-based ones like guiding a hoop along a rail.
The puzzles that don’t demand perfect control from you are probably the more fun ones. Following along with cryptic clues gives the old grey matter a bit of a stretch, and you get a nice feeling of satisfaction for solving them.
The dexterity ones are horrific though. Due to a mix of reasons they ended in failure far more often than was comfortable. That’s not me being bad at puzzler, it was usually because something decided to be awkward with my setup and would jolt a controller slightly and end the puzzle. You then have to start from the beginning and hope that nothing would go awry this time. The fact that this was never because the puzzles were tricky was all the more annoying. I never failed a puzzle because I didn’t know what to do, I failed them because something in the game or my headset jerked and everything went awry, or there was some hidden nonsense I the dark corner of the puzzle itself that would insta-fail you.
The other issue with the puzzles is that they never fit with what’s going on in the world. You’ll go to open a door and suddenly have to get a ball through a maze. It doesn’t really mesh with what Agatha is doing, and it feels disjointed and distracting because of that.
All of these little issues add up to one constant headache when it comes to the gameplay. It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t bother you until you think about it, and then you do, and then everything around it is far too much to ignore. It makes no sense that you’d have to complete a weird weight puzzle just to open a door. Where would it even be kept? Who would like their door like that?
It’s a real shame because I really like the visual style and some of the places you visit. There are some beautiful areas in Rinlo, places with great skyboxes and some lovely detailing, but they’re mixed in with other areas that feel ripped out of the early noughties’ beige era of gaming.
The one thing that was consistently great was the soundtrack. No matter how infuriating other parts of the game were, I always enjoyed the music accompanying it. The same can be said of the voice acting too. While there were a couple of performances that felt a little wooden, it was generally quite nice to see the character chatting to each other and find out more about the world they inhabit.
It’s just a shame that everything else wasn’t up to the same standard as the sound design.
Rinlo Review Final Impressions
Rinlo frustrated me more often than it brought a smile to my face. Despite the occasional clever puzzle, far too much of the game felt ill-conceived. I really wanted to like Rinlo because it makes a good first impression and the story it tells does have some good notes, but the mixture of dodgy camera angles and occasionally inaccurate controls makes it an irksome and slightly painful experience, rather than the enjoyable puzzle game it aspires to be at first.