[Review] Rynn’s Adventure: Trouble in the Enchanted Forest
Posted on May 27, 2016 by Jakob Vujovic(@jakovujo) in Reviews, Wii U eShop
System: Wii U (eShop)
Release date: May 26, 2016
Developer: Arcane Four Studios
Publisher Arcane Four Studios
One criticism that’s tough to lob at the Wii U is to say that it’s lacking in good 2D platformers. From its best such as Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze to the more run-of-the-mill New Super Mario Bros. U, there’s consistently solid base-level mechanics and there’s fun to be had in just running and jumping. Unfortunately, I found even the simple act of controlling the character in Rynn’s Adventure miserable. It’s a reminder of how important it is to get basic movement to feel right in a platformer. When other issues are compounded on this basic failure, then the whole of the design feels anything but compelling.
To give credit where it’s due, the art is nice, albeit very inconsistent. There are fleeting moments where level environments almost look like something out of Rayman Origins. Too often 2D background assets look like sloppily compressed image files. This is especially apparent in the introduction cut-scene which, despite being a pre-rendered video, is full of extremely low resolution textures that wouldn’t look out of place in an early PS2 game. Ultimately these issues aren’t important to the actual gameplay, but they consistently left me scratching my head as to why so many background art assets looked like development placeholders.
The real problem starts with how the basic controls work and feel. Both running and jumping are functional at best, but only really for the most basic and easy platforming which is really only found in the tutorial level. It’s tough to accurately write down how the ‘feel’ is off, so I’ll use other games that nailed their platforming aspects as a point of comparison. My biggest problem with the way the way running and jumping feels in Rynn’s Adventure is that it’s both too loose and too stiff.
Looking at Castlevania as an example of stiff controls done right, this is simply done by how little momentum and inertia your character has. Simon Belmont is slow, he stops on a dime, and his jump is very limited. Looking at Super Mario Bros. as floaty controls done right, then you’ll see that everything I used to describe Simon Belmont’s workings could be flipped for Mario. He has heavy momentum and inertia (which is further accentuated by the run button) so he can’t stop quickly and is prone to sliding around, and he has a long jump with plenty of mid-air control and enough time in the air to facilitate this control.
Controlling Rynn combines aspects of the physics of Simon Belmont and Mario in a way that just feels off. Rynn moves at a faster pace than Belmont but can similarly stop the instant you let go of the control stick. In the air, Rynn is floaty like Mario, but your side-to-side control is still like that of Simon Belmont so you fall with a jerky and stiff left to right control. In short, any kind of horizontal movement is very stiff, and any kind of vertical movement is too floaty for them to feel right together. When you’re controlling a fox, which I’d imagine to be have a more natural flow to its movement, I don’t understand the why these Belmontian physics were put in here at all since it causes Rynn to animate and control very unnaturally.
With all that said, I haven’t even gotten into my issues with other control maneuvers being finicky and unresponsive. These can mostly be blamed on that basic movement feel being off. The whole thing sort of feels directionless. It has a Mega Man-style stage select with nine stages and bosses, but it doesn’t really make any good use of this structure. When the basic movement feels shoddy, everything built around it, either good or bad (but mostly unremarkable), falls apart at the seams.
Aside from my dislike of the controls, I really don’t feel anything towards Rynn’s Adventure: Trouble in the Enchanted Forest. I acknowledge that this is Arcane Four Studios’ debut game and I give the developer credit for the attempt, but it feels like a first effort in all aspects. There’s nothing really better than passable and there’s too much sloppiness here. If you really haven’t played much of any 2D platformers before, then this game might seem okay, but if you’re reading this, then you probably have a Wii U and in that case there’s a selection of other great and polished titles in the genre available to you.