A Rite From The Stars ReviewAugust 4, 2018
A Rite from the Stars
Developer: Risin’ Goat
Publisher: Phoenix Online Publishing
Platform: Mac, Windows (Reviewed)
Price: $14.99 USD
A Rite From The Stars is a point & click adventure game starring Kirm, a mute Makoan boy who is chosen by the stars to become a legend among his people. In order to do so, he must undertake the rites of passage to become a man: the trials of Spirit, Courage, and Wisdom. In this debut game from Spanish developer Risin’ Goat, players must guide Kirm through the mystical world of Kaikala while navigating dangerous paths and solving complex puzzles.
A Rite From The Stars is broken into three gameplay sections: the paths of Courage, Wisdom, and Spirit. Wisdom has Kirm picking up and moving objects to solve puzzles. Courage has Kirm and a meerkat buddy navigating increasingly dangerous paths with an interesting two-character dynamic where one character is controlled by the left click and the other by the right click. The path of Spirit has Kirm wandering through a ghostly alternate dimension, where he can warp between two realities on the fly to navigate mazes. I found all three of these sections to be brutally difficult.
To be fair, I rarely play point & click adventure games, but I did beat Grim Fandango, which felt difficult but fair to me. That game made you really use your brain, but if you walked through the environment and talked to characters you would find clues to guide you in the right direction. A Rite From The Stars does have a clues system, which deactivates Steam Achievements if you use it, but even with these clues, I was completely stuck many times. After finally discovering the solution to a puzzle, I was met with extreme frustration at times at the realization that I actually had figured out the solution, but A Rite From The Stars’ unpolished mechanics were causing glitches or preventing me from navigating where I needed to. I had to kill poor Kirm many times just so I could respawn, hoping that this time a glitch wouldn’t trigger. The section with Kirm and the meerkat, while interesting at first, quickly turned rage-inducing. The game’s mechanics simply aren’t polished enough to keep up with the unforgiving difficulty and speed of some puzzles. Kirm moves slow as hell, even while running. Not to mention that the characters often won’t move where you tell them to. 90% of my time in the Courage section was spent clicking on vines and waiting for the damn meerkat to please climb it before I throw my computer out the window. The unresponsive, clunky controls make the timing-based challenges far more difficult than they already would be.
A Rite From The Stars has some nice atmospheric music at times, and the sound design is overall okay. However, there were some sections where I would be trying to figure out a puzzle, only to have a one-second loop of crickets repeating over and over again in the background. I had to turn my speakers off several times to focus enough to progress.
While A Rite From The Stars has a charming visual aesthetic at times, the graphical presentation is very uneven. At times I was impressed by the vibrant colors and interesting environmental design, but there were also plenty of times where I was a bit shocked that this is a PC game released in the year 2018. From the visible texture seams everywhere to the blurry textures and low-polygon models, it honestly looks like a PlayStation 2 game that was “remastered” on PlayStation 4 or something. Aside from the higher resolution, it looks like it could run on a smartphone. I have nothing against minimalist game design, but the textures don’t even look like they were created in HD. The game is obviously very influenced by games such as The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, so maybe the retro look is intentional? To me, it just looks unfinished and unpolished, like the rest of the game honestly. And why is the game so dark?! It feels like the whole game needs way more brightness and contrast. A Rite From The Stars has only half of the bright and colorful design scheme down.
The story of A Rite From The Stars isn’t all that interesting, and while I thought that the choice to have all the dialogue voiced in the Makoan language was fun at first, it got old really fast. I feel as though having the game voiced in English would have sucked players into the story more and made the characters more interesting, as opposed to having players doze off while listening to very monotone dialogue and reading through lengthy cutscenes. Since A Rite From The Stars features a child character in a mask, a Navi-like faerie that navigates you through the world, and a silent protagonist, it’s obvious that the developer wanted to pay homage to games like Majora’s Mask. However, while Link is silent through his adventures in the Zelda games, those titles feature much richer worlds and interesting characters that deliver exposition in a meaningful way that makes you feel like part of their world. Link’s expressions and reactions give life and depth to his character. In A Rite From The Stars, Kirm feels like a generic cardboard cutout having an audiobook read to him.
I would estimate that I really enjoyed the first 45 minutes of A Rite From The Stars. After that, the game’s rough edges start to show, and navigating Kirm through the brain-melting puzzles becomes an infuriating chore rather than the fun adventure it starts out as. Simply put, A Rite From The Stars feels broken and unfinished in its current state, like the barebones skeleton of the developer’s vision. Putting the graphics and sound design aside, a game needs functional, responsive controls and a consistent difficulty curve as a base. The developers either need to drastically improve the controls and remove a ton more bugs, or lower the difficulty significantly.