Rise & Shine is another of those experiences which might as well be called a game about games. With a story which intentionally mashes together a dozen old hero stories, and shout outs to everything from Duck Hunt to Gears of War, it could have easily been a nostalgia cash in. Yet, Super Mega Team's creativity, art direction and the uncanny ability to blend bullet hell, puzzle platforming and arcade shooter mechanics results in a single game.
The world itself is incredibly colourful and distinct, embracing its more cartoonish design without being afraid to throw in darker or more gripping moments when needed. This helps it maintain a broad variety of foes to combat against, each of whom is immediately identifiable and easy to recognise despite the speed of their attacks. This helps the game maintain a fast pace, despite switching through various influences and modes every other minute, streamlining the experience until you barely notice the jump from bullet hell to puzzle platformer. Nevertheless, the core combat itself remains challenging from beginning to end, and the likes of player guided missiles ensures the rules keep being changed up until the end.
Unfortunately, there is one massive "but" which needs to be attached to all this praise. While what gameplay we have is certainly excellent, there is surprisingly little of it. A skilled player can push through this game in a couple of hours, and there is a surprising lack of levels for a game of this price. In addition to this, while there is certainly boundless creativity on display here, certain modes are hindered by a few bizarre design choices. The bullet hell mode might be well crafted, but the inability to jump and shoot, or even jump and dash, leaves you exposed and gives the game an oddly clunky feel; while the puzzles are often overly simplistic for what you might expect. Furthermore, despite the short length of the game, there is a staggering jump in difficulty on the final level, which devolves into a monotonous grid of jumping into combat and dying over and over again. It doesn't reward skill so much as sheer persistence.
Ultimately, Rise & Shine is another game which seems more akin to a proof of concept than a full experience. What we get is certainly fun, incredibly so, but at such a high price tag it is hard to recommend. If the artistic direction and gameplay elements interests you then definitely give this one a look, but otherwise wait for more content or the sales.
RISE & SHINE / DEVELOPER: SUPER MEGA TEAM / PUBLISHER: ADULT SWIM GAMES / PLATFORM: PC, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW