Rise & Shine: Puzzles Meet Bullets in This Gaming Pop Culture Gem

If a bullet hell had a baby with a puzzle/platformer and then threw in classic gaming pop culture references, you'd get Rise & Shine.

I’ve played a lot of games over the course of my life, amounting to (easily) hundreds of titles spanning across all systems Atari-2600 to current-gen. I’ve saved princesses and kingdoms galore, thwarted numerous evil villains and sinister plans, and boy did I play a lot of minigames. So, when I first saw Rise & Shine I knew that it was a game I had to play.

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For those unfamiliar with the game, you play as Rise — a youth living on Gamearth, where all the characters from video games live. The peaceful planet comes under attack from the warlike Space Grunts, who hail from the planet Nexgen. It’s up to you to lead Rise, and the legendary gun, Shine, who are the last hopes of repelling the attack, the ultimate weapon. 

What Makes it Great

The selling factor for me on Rise & Shine is the phenomenal artwork of the game. Every level of the game is drawn by hand and is not tiled or repeated at any point. Every layer, every little detail, is painstakingly crafted by hand, which doesn’t go unappreciated, even when you die over and over again.

Oh yeah, did I mention that this game is difficult?

I let myself fall into a false sense of security because of the light-hearted art style and the fact that you’re playing as a kid. That all goes out the window when the bullets start flying. And they come in waves. Much like playing Dark Souls, you can expect to die many, many times.  

 You get right into the action with minimal “tutorial stage” as the game has a separate tutorial section accessible from the main screen. Right off the bat, you learn about the cover system, which is your best friend as fiery death rains down on you from the sky. Shine, your gun, also has a number of different fire modes as well as bullet types that effect your enemies and the environment in different ways. My personal favorite is the grenade launcher mode that can negate your enemies cover with a bit of skill. 

But it’s not just all bullets, blood, and guts. You can also expect some fairly solid, and sometimes challenging, puzzle mechanics. I’d be a liar if I told you that I never got stuck trying to progress through the game.  You start off easily enough with some staple puzzles like lever and button timer puzzles. But you slowly get into slightly more complex puzzles as you progress through the game — my favorite type being the bullet control puzzles where you take control of the bullet and navigate a tight maze of obstacles. 

There were a few puzzles that had me scratching my head, but it was mostly due to me forgetting about the various tools and modes that your gun, Shine, has in its repertoire. When in doubt, try all the abilities out!

On top of the well-done gameplay mechanics, there is something that I can appreciate even more; the amazing references to gaming pop culture

There are so many references to classic games that I played growing up it was almost like a nostalgia overload. It also did this in a way that didn’t feel like it was playing off of the success of the games or tropes that it was referencing. It just fits in in an organic way because of the story and nature of the game. 

Final Verdict

While the concept of Rise & Shine is not something new or genre-defining it does everything you would think of when you “shoot em up puzzle/platformer” and it does it exceptionally well. Visually the game takes me back to the amazing aesthetics of games like Viewtiful joe and the difficulty of games like Super Meat Boy.

Everything about this game just seems to mesh together to deliver an enjoyable experience that is refreshing, challenging, and witty. It’s a game to experience and an experience that veteran gamers from the 80s and 90s will enjoy.

Rise & Shine comes out January 13th on the Steam Marketplace and is a game that should be, at the very least, on your wishlist. At the time of writing this, the price is still TDB.

Does Rise & Shine sound like a game you’d enjoying playing? What about it are you most looking forward to? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

Note: A copy of the game was provided by the developer for the review.

Rise & Shine: Puzzles Meet Bullets in This Gaming Pop Culture Gem
If a bullet hell had a baby with a puzzle/platformer and then threw in classic gaming pop culture references, you'd get Rise & Shine.

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Justin Michael
From Atari 2600 to TTRPG and beyond I game, therefore I am. Can generally be found DMing D&D on the weekend, homebrewing beer, or tripping over stuff in my house while playing VR. Hopeful for something *Ready Player One* meets *S.A.O Nerve Gear* before I kick the bucket.