Have You Played… Risk of Rain?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Your first few wasted lives in Risk of Rain [official site] might give you the impression of a very limited action game. A tiny sprite armed with a handful of basic abilities (shoot, roll, shoot harder), you have to take on waves of bad things, from flying jellyfish to giant lava snakes, as you seek out teleporters and travel from level to level. What’s worse, you move everywhere at a slow pace, you can’t jump very high and you can only fire on a single plane in two directions. Oh, and the difficulty is increasing all the time. My first hour was spent shaking my head and getting annoyed, death after death. Then I learned to repair robots.

You get cash monies for every bad lizard or ghost thing you kill, you see, and this money can be spent buying random upgrades from boxes, opening cannisters full of gift-bearing imps or reclaiming dead gun drones. Fixing damaged robots along the way gave me that bit of extra firepower I needed to get on with things and survive just a little longer each time, eventually unlocking new characters with different weapons and abilities. The Enforcer is a riot cop who can plant down his shield, blocking all damage from one side while shooting faster himself. But this makes him an immobile target and vulnerable from the opposite side, something which you need to keep in mind in a game which gradually becomes, as Adam described it, “the platforming equivalent of bullet hell”.

Other characters mix it up even more. The Bandit throws dynamite, the Engineer has two turrets and heat-seeking harpoons, and the Sniper can do a dodging backflip and take careful aim, increasing your damage by ridiculous percent. There’s more characters I can’t remember, but the point is that the whole thing takes on the atmosphere of an action roguelike that has been accidentally staffed with MMO characters. On top of this, all the semi-randomised abilities start to stack, granting you health bonuses, missile attacks, proximity damage… the variety of buffs is massive, a whole matrix of them visible from the unlocks menu.

One of them plants a flag down when you level up that makes you fearsome murderer, but only within a small area. Another earns you cash over time. Another turns all the enemies you kill into ghosts that help you. The longer you survive the more hectic your screen becomes, not just thanks to the steadily increasing difficulty and the mini-bosses, but also thanks to your own insane firepower. Add three friends to the mix on multiplayer and you are in for a debilitating hour or two of gunfire and hot pursuits – all set to some great music.


  1. Dorga says:

    great game, especially in jolly cooperation.

  2. Silverchain says:

    I have, and though I started to get the hang of it after a while it was just too difficult for me to *enjoy* playing for long – a shame, because there was an awful lot of it left untried when I stopped.

  3. Bobtree says:

    I enjoyed Risk of Rain and finished it a couple times, but the lack of randomly generated levels grew tiresome.

  4. Baines says:

    I liked the concept more than the actual game. The game itself quickly became more annoying than fun, and I never bothered reinstalling it after switching hard drives.

  5. theapeofnaples says:

    Bounced off this pretty hard previously… going to have to give it another go as it sounds more interesting than my first ten minutes implied.

    This was a post

  6. asense says:

    Love this game, it really did a good job keeping me motivated with its unlocks. It still has an honourspot on my drive for the occasional coop-massacre.

  7. Turkey says:

    Someone recommended this to me cause I play a lot of roguelite-like-lite-likes, but it didn’t really do anything for me. I’d recommend installing the Nuclear Throne online-coop patch instead if you’re looking for a similar experience.

  8. Synesthesia says:

    Great game, but getting a match to work is waay too arcane and uncomfortable. Only played it once in coop because of that, and had a blast.

  9. PaulV says:

    I absolutely adore this game, even though there’s definitely some design issues with it.

  10. horrorgasm says:

    Good game. Could have used a bit more level variety. It’s pretty easy once you get into the rhythm of things. Even easier once you get that command artifact. Nice that the character’s abilities were so different, but not so nice that beating the game with most of the characters gains you nothing. Still, for how cheap it is now it’s more than worth the price.

  11. April March says:

    Great game, but too difficult for me. I eventually realized that it was for people who were much better at videogamesing than I am and that I would never unlock anything other than the Enforcer.

    The last time this was mentioned in RPS someone mentioned an artifact that’s easy to find and makes the game remarkably easier, but then I proceeded to continue to not play the game for months and now I think that artifact’s been nerfed to hell.

    • horrorgasm says:

      Nah. If you get the command artifact you get to choose what power-ups you get instead of getting all random drops. Combine that with learning which ones are the best and it makes a huge difference. (And I just played it about a month ago.)

      • Ashabel says:

        Command is a very strong artifact, but actually pretty hard to get due to how far into the game the Hive Cluster is.

        A much easier artifact to obtain is Glass, which cuts your health to 10% of its normal size but also massively increases your damage. The game’s biggest difficulty is how spongy most of the enemies are, so performing well becomes infinitely easier once fights come down to who gets the first hit in.

  12. Raoul Duke says:

    I really enjoy this game, but found the random (?) spikes in difficulty ridiculous. I would cruise through maybe two levels with a bit of hard work, only to be instantly murdered in the third one.

  13. RaymondQSmuckles says:

    How do I love thee, Risk of Rain? Let me count the ways…
    This game infuriated me at first, with what seemed an impossibly steep survival curve. And yet… I kept at it and found that it rewarded thoughtful, considered play, and that I kept getting better at it. I came to realize that death was my own fault, that I was playing the game I wanted it to be not the game it actually is. Once I allowed myself to learn how it needs to be played, not just trying to bulldoze my way through every encounter, I found its risk/reward system and difficulty levels quite the treat. Then I started finding artifacts and oh baby the depth of that game just keeps on keeping on…

  14. cokolwiek says:

    You forgot to tag the post with Have You Played and it doesn’t appear under the rubric!

  15. jalf says:

    A friend and I spent a couple of happy weeks co-op’ing our way through this again and again. Some months later, the soundtrack served to keep me sane during a transatlantic flight.

    So yeah, I quite like RoR!

    I dug it up again just this past weekend, actually. Turns out I’m still a pretty damn good sniper! :D

  16. vahnn says:

    I managed to get a good 60 or 70 hours out of this game with a couple buddies. Got to the point where we could easily sit down and beat the game every time we played. I love the Enforcer, Acrid, the slime-spewing alien dude, and HAN-D the ‘robot janitor. ‘

  17. DantronLesotho says:

    I absolutely adore Risk of Rain. I think people underappreciate the amount of tactical variety that makes this an incredible game. Nearly all of the improvements feel like an actual difference when you obtain them, yet without infringing on the play style of the characters themselves. I think it’s masterfully crafted game design. The whole game is just incredibly THOUGHTFUL.

    • vahnn says:

      Agreed. Especially playing multiplayer, we have a quick discussion about who in the group gets a power up based on the character and role we’re trying to play.

  18. Ronrocken says:

    Have I played Risk of Rain? Yes I have. Unfortunately.

    It sucked monkey balls harder than a hungry Syrian refugee.