Risk of Rain 2 review: it’s more of a tornado watch


Justin Farris

What happens when you survive for five hours when the game should end in thirty minutes. Photo by Justin Farris

Justin Farris

Welcome to Petrichor V: Please die. If Risk of Rain 2 had a tagline, that’d probably be it. Though, to be fair, a welcome and included please is more polite than anything the game will throw at you in its never-ending attempt to make sure you die. 

Risk of Rain 2 is what we in the gaming business call a roguelike. When you die, the game ends and you are able to restart. You will probably be restarting a lot, especially at first. However, this doesn’t mean that every game is the same. As you progress, you unlock new playable characters, alternate character abilities and new items for future runs- and some more secrets are waiting in the wings. 

Describing the game is difficult, because individually the pieces that make it up have been done before. It’s got great 3-D graphics, great visual design, controls, characters, character design, balance and simply feels fun to play. What sets Risk of Rain 2 apart is that nothing else has put those pieces together in quite the same way. The ingredients aren’t new, but the way they’ve been put together is exquisite. 

I’d like to touch specifically on the music- it’s amazing. It starts off with a sense of wonder and inviting exploration, but quickly the undertones of danger bleed into the sound as the beautiful environments are covered in spent bullets and rising enemies. The music swells as the planet redoubles its efforts, reaching a crescendo as you frantically dance through chaos, life on a razor’s edge. If you hear the music begin to loop, you know you’ve been somewhere too long. 

Despite how much there is to the game, it’s very intuitive to pick up. Most characters need only the movement keys and four buttons, five if you find an equipment- left mouse, right mouse, shift, q and r. Not too complex. The items you collect are all mostly passive, but that doesn’t mean they’re simple stat boosts. Some items do increase your movement or attack speed, or reduce damage taken, but some are far more revolutionary- cause bleeding, light enemies on fire, explode enemies on death, a percent chance to completely ignore damage on hit and at the higher end revive you from death. 

In a typical game, you will choose a character, hurtle towards the planet’s surface in a drop pod, crash into the ground, climb out and start fighting. You proceed attempting to survive long enough to buy items from security chests with money earned from kills so that you can find a teleporter, which you will then need to charge by standing near it and killing a boss. The bosses range with great variety- Stone Titans with death lasers, giant beetles that summon more insects to protect them and giant jellyfish that can fire homing explosives and turn themselves into a thermonuclear bomb at low health. Good luck!

You’re still alive? Good. Now, you’re at a new level. There are probably new enemies, possibly some environmental hazards and certainly no safety. The planet wants you dead and you’re already on borrowed time. You need to move fast to stay alive. Buy items, find the teleporter and keep moving. You’ll live longer if you keep speed as a friend. 

If you make it far enough, you’ll encounter some new routes. Perhaps you’ll take the strange looking teleporter to the moon to try and escape the planet. Perhaps you’ll decide against it and continue fighting across the planet until you find a strange blue portal to a moment fractured in time. Perhaps, before any of that, you’ll find a different portal to a little shop outside the petty bounds of time. If you find yourself there, I promise you that there’s nothing hiding in the pit. 

In addition, as the inspiration for this review, the game recently released its first dlc, Survivors of the Void. It added a new boss (which I have admittedly yet to beat), many new items, two new characters, a new wave survival game mode, new maps, new enemies and reworks of old mechanics. It’s definitely worth a buy if you enjoy the original. 

Risk of Rain 2 is a game that has proven endlessly fun to me and there are still many secrets I’ve yet to uncover. I’ll find them in time, but there’s no rush. Surviving the planet Petrichor V is challenging and fun enough. This is a game that I first played three years ago and I sincerely believe it’ll be timeless for me, a game I come back to at 60 years old and right up there with Minecraft. Try it out. You won’t regret it. 

If you still aren’t convinced, please check out the video above.