When I saw the trailer for Ryse: Son of Rome, I got overly hyped: it looked like it contained everything I wanted to see in a successful action RPG. Now that I’ve played it, despite having all the required elements for being a great game, Ryse somehow didn’t manage to reach the spot, and you will soon learn why.
Ryse: Son of Rome is stunning from the visual point of view: It has graphics that scale to your PC’s horsepower, so despite my laptop’s modest AMD HD 7670M, it managed to look great. Besides that, the cinematics are great, making me want to mash the screenshot key in order to provide myself with some awesome new wallpapers. If you want to learn more about the graphics optimization for Ryse, check out our performance guide here.
Unfortunately, besides the beautiful looks of the game, there are only a few things left to impress you.The story in Ryse: Son of Rome is a classic revenge story, where Marius, a decorated Roman centurion, takes you through the tale of his murdered family. It’s a tale full of blood, barbarians, and the glory of Rome that will be spread across about 7 hours of gameplay. The game actually manages to introduce you into an Ancient Rome atmosphere, thanks to the great graphics and the exceptional voice acting. Once you start the game you will get thrown right into beautiful combat, where you will learn to slice, block, stab and dodge hordes of barbarians. The controls are very easy to learn, bringing nothing new to the crowd of action games: WASD movement, mouse mashing for attacks, spacebar for blocks and the already expired focus mode, where you slow time and hack your enemies with even more ferocity. Moving your scrollwheel will choose what bonus to draw from your opponent: the only two that I have used were bonus XP and health regeneration. Nothing new, unfortunately. From the first hour you will notice that combat feels extremely repetitive and character models are massively reused. You will kill the same type of barbarians over and over again: the fat guy with the shield, skinny guy with two axes and only a few more.
Now let us talk about the execution system. Once you hacked enough of your enemy’s health, a skull will appear above their head, letting you know you can now press the execute key. Once you do that, your character will start a series of complicated and unnecessary movements, slicing said enemy’s feet, arms, torso, stabbing him through the neck and whatnot. You can now take a sip from your drink because this will take a few seconds. For the first several times it may seem spectacular, but once you’ve done it for a few packs of barbarians you may get bored of executing them. The only bonus executions give are some points that you can spend on upgrades, some of which are good but most are useless: alright, I may want a few more health cells added to my HP bar and some more focus regen, but let’s be serious, +3% more HP while executing two enemies will rarely count.
Fighting bosses may appear spectacular at first, considering they can seem harder to defeat because of their stronger attacks and your lack of blocking powers, but once you figure out their repetitive fighting pattern it’s only a matter of stabbing and dodging. Unfortunately, once you’ve beaten a boss, you’ve beaten them all.
Aside from the melee combat, you can also throw spears (pilums) at your enemies and sometimes you will have the chance of commanding your troops to volley arrows upon the barbarians, control catapults and balistas.
What about the interaction with the environment? There are very few things to talk about, really. The objects that you must interact with will glow and there is no freedom about your choices. You really can’t get lost in this game: you can go one way and one way only. If there’s a wall to climb, you can only climb it from that ONE spot and not two yards to the left, and the climbing will be done automatically once your character is close enough to the said wall. Marius can’t jump, can’t choose other routes to reach his objective and is basically a killing machine set to do the same thing over and over again. There are no open world elements, just a goal and a pre-determined route to it, and the scarce control of your character will make you feel limited.
Time for a conclusion. Ryse: Son of Rome is a game that had great potential but somehow managed to go another way. It has great graphics and voice acting but the rest of the game will leave you a bit disappointed. Is it worth its full Steam price of 40 Euros? I don’t think so. You can consider getting it if you will catch it on a sale, but 40 Euros for a 7 hours campain is not worth it at all in my opinion. Maybe we’ll see the price drop a bit, or an expansion that will give us more freedom and will end the repetitive manner in which the game is meant to be played.
Final Verdict for Ryse: Son of Rome: CASH GRAB (shite, cash grab, mediocre, good, excellent).