Platforms: PC, PS Vita (reviewed), PS4
Release: 1st September 2017 (Consoles) / 28th January 2016 (PC)
Price: 29.99 (Consoles) / 19.99 (PC)
2D Metroidvanias flood the stores since years, often doing nothing particularly unique except oversaturating the market. Last year Rabi-Ribi, yet another one of those, came to Steam and received quite a big critical acclaim. Now that PQube brings it to PS4 and Vita it´s the perfect moment to see, if Rabi-Ribi is actually more than a game full of cute bunny girls doing cute things.
When Erina, originally a cute little bunny, awakens as a human bunny girl, her world is upside down. Quickly after finding her master/owner again, meeting a fairy named ribbon and fighting off all kinds of bunny hunters, Erina learns her true objective: Collecting enough magic casters to activate a statue so she can rescue her master´s sister. During the game, we do exactly that.
While Metroidvania´s certainly don´t need a big storyline, Rabi-Ribi is one of those games, that even fall below this line. Providing a very thin plot, lacking any kind of twists or cool moments. Surely the characters could carry the burden of making it at least somewhat interesting, yet fail at being anything unique or greatly written. Erina is your usual cutiepie, Ribbon is a mix of tsundere and cutiepie, Erina´s master is your stereotypical heartwarming woman … you get the point. There´s really nothing outstanding here and what´s there isn´t really good. Sometimes I may have enjoyed reading their silly, cute conversations but these moments were rarities. Simple anime dialogues are too overused and known by weebs like me.
However, the coat, this bland mix is wrapped in, is truly heartwarming, cute and unique. To illustrate its dialogues and in-game characters, Rabi-Ribi can offer great looking “human” drawings of Erina and the rest of the cast in dialogues or big dioramas in particular, combined with an unbelievable cute chibi style in most in-game menus. Be it the portraits under health bars, bosses, item screens, chibis can be found everywhere and they´re goddamn cute. Combined with the retro, yet detailed and overall great looking pixel-art, Rabi-Ribi can set itself apart, due to its super adorable presentation mixed with objectively neat graphics.
On Vita it naturally runs pretty flawless, not suffering from many frame drops or graphical let-downs. Even though the first loading time is a bit too long for my taste, as well as the sometimes too tiny text during conversations. Otherwise, a pretty good port.
Gameplay-wise, Rabi-Ribi can also bring its own flavour into the mix. Basically, we´re dealing with a 2D action jump`n run, where we can of course jump, melee attack and explore branching areas, hoping to find something. Additionally, we can also use our fairy Ribbon for ranged attacks or perform special magic moves, consuming MP. Nothing unseen before but executed very solid and the general movement feels very tight. Exploring the giant world is a blast and due to the wide array of different areas it never gets boring.
Naturally, Rabi-Ribi is also full of boss fights, in fact, it has dozens of them! Instead of just throwing tougher re-skinned enemies at you, CreSpirit went the extra mile to implement a whole new genre into Rabi-Ribi, specifically for these bosses. I´m speaking about the bullet-hell genre, as you might have expected. Every bossfight mainly consists of dodging bullets, learning patterns and bash them to pieces with your hammer. In contrast to the classic jump´n run sections, the spiced up gameplay is very refreshing. While it´s never too hard, bosses can be quite a challenge, if you don´t use your powers effectively, especially in the last hours, forcing you to understand the systems rather than mashing buttons.
Like every good Metroidvania, Rabi-Ribi also features a whole lot of discoverable upgrades. From classic health/MP extending items, which are more than just useful here, to secret areas, there´s everything here. Yet, far more surprising is the fact, that Rabi-Ribi features level progression as well. Every enemy or boss gives us experience, every few hundred experience points we get a new level and with it, a potential upgrade. From a new hit combo, new ability, more damage or anything else, Rabi-Ribi bombards us with upgrades during the first hours. Surprisingly, after a short time, levels get harder to achieve and more and more time passes between each upgrade, leading to a pretty unbalanced upgrade pacing.
Rabi-Ribi is definetely not a bad Metroidvania, it´s actually a pretty damn fine one. Featuring silly ideas mixed with silly, adorable art, classic gameplay, spiced up by great unique features and a giant explorable world full of secrets. Because of these great things, it´s easy to forget about the below average story, weak characters, strange upgrade pacing and minimal technical issues. During my 15 hours long playhtrough, I absolutely loved Rabi-Ribi for its bunny girls (who doesn´t love chibis?) and great gameplay and it´s a great fit for the Vita.
[A Review Code was provided by PQube]