Ryse: Son Of Rome is a 3rd person action adventure game that was developed by Crytek and published by Microsoft Studios. It was released in November of 2013, exclusively for PC and Xbox One.
Marius is a soldier in the Roman army. A soldier in the 14th unit for that matter. When Rome is under siege by the Britons, it’s up to him and the rest of the army to keep the city safe, and the emperor alive! Although the game starts off this way, it soon takes a turn, and we end up learning about Marius’ life, how he joined the army, and how he ended up where he is now.
The story kept me hooked right from the beginning. Learning about Marius’ journey, and the lore of the world. The game included some talk about Roman gods, but the only one it truly ever talked in depth about, was Nemesis, goddess of vengeance. I expected more gods to be part of the game. Sure some are there, but they play such a small part. But the story is spectacular. It was well written, engaging, but I did suspect one of the twists. As it was pretty obvious.
If there is one story beat that doesn’t make sense though, it is that Marius’ talks about his story starting 10 years ago, from the point the game starts. But you don’t actually get the dates for when anything in game is happening. So at best, you know it spans months, because it took people ages to cross the seas back in the time of Roman soldiers. So by the time the credits rolled, I had wondered how such a small amount of events happened over a presumably 10 year period. The game doesn’t really overstay its welcome. I thought it would only take 4 hours tops to beat the game, with how fast the earlier chapters went by. But the last couple chapters did really stretch out, to help get some extra time out of it. So by the time the story ended, I had played for about 6 hours.
The gameplay unfortunately isn’t nearly as interesting as the story. Where you get a beautifully crafted world and story, with a perfectly paced narrative, on the other side of the coin, you get boring and dull combat. At first the combat was great. I felt like a Roman badass. Impaling my enemies, and executing them when I could. But shortly after it turned into the same button sequences. Over and over and over. In combat it turned into the same button presses. Attack, attack, shield bash to break their guard, attack, attack, shield bash, until eventually a skull would appear above their heads. This would then get me to execute the enemy if I chose to. They would glow a certain colour, and I’d have to press the corresponding button to do the execution. Except there were a few times where I’d hit the wrong button, but I’d have no consequences. I once messed up an entire execution and still finished it and got my bonus.
Now executions are a huge part of the game. As when you do them, you get bonuses! Like extra experience to level up. But the only worthwhile upgrade was the one associated with getting a bigger health bar. The rest felt pointless, or I could upgrade my executions to get different scenes for them. For the most part I stuck with always getting extra damage after an execution, unless I needed health. Then I’d switch to getting health back, then change back to damage.
For the most part, outside of the normal hack and slash combat, you get to fire an arrow turret once in a while, that takes no skill, as it often auto locks onto enemies, or create a shield wall, which is boring as well. As you just creep forward, then make a wall when you see arrows being lit. There is one system I never got to try though, and that’s the voice commands. Now and again you have to do things, usually with archers to tell them to say, fire a volley of arrows. Now you can say these things if you have a mic, or if you’re like me, and play next to your sleeping wife, you instead have to hold a button. This then slowly fills a bar, which takes forever! Usually by the time the action happened, the enemies that it would have effected, were dead.
I’ll admit, there was a multiplayer aspect to the game that I just didn’t bother trying out. Mostly because I didn’t care, and also, I didn’t have anyone to try it with, and I certainly wasn’t going to matchmake with people online!
- Fantastic Story
- Great Looking Game
- Repetitive And Boring Gameplay
- A Time Jump That Makes No Sense
Ryse: Son of Rome is an excellent game. Unfortunately the gameplay holds it back quite a bit. But it was a launch game for a new system, where everyone just wanted to see the graphical leap. I hope one day we see a sequel, with better mechanics. I hope everyone gets to try this at least once though, as it was well worth it.
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