RiME starts you off running and jumping and exploring a sunny island dotted with ancient-looking white stone structures, sometimes accompanied or led by a cute fox-dog creature. But if you think RiME is going to be a cutesy explore-em-up you're quickly going to be in for a nasty surprise, as you'll soon be running for your life, avoiding a giant bird with chips on both shoulders and a taste for blood. You'll have to avoid it by clever use of the scenery, anything with a roof or overhang provides shelter from the murderous giant.
So it turns out that the various stages of the game, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance represent the emotional journey of a guilt-ridden father who failed to save his son when he was washed overboard from a sailboat. The levels look and feel radically different as the mood of the game changes.
There are plenty of opportunities to explore and experiment too, and I found myself herding wild pigs and feeding them with the biggest oranges you've ever seen. This may sound weird but these porky inhabitants can be coaxed or herded to smash brambly barriers that you can't get through on your own.
Exploration is the key in RiME and if you like games that lead you by the nose then this isn't for you, as the only real hints are the occasional fleeting glimpse of your sometime dog/fox companion, a mysterious figure with a red cape just like yours and some pictograms on walls and floors. It's surprisingly easy to "die" but there are no "lives" and the restart points are never far away, so experimentation and exploration is alway encouraged (there are plenty of collectables) and you soon learn to recognise a likely path forward or spot from which you'll be able to climb higher.
RiME has the look and feel of a rather cutified version of PlayStation classic Ico (anything by Team Ico in fact), and certainly seems to be heavily influenced by it at some points, and this is no bad thing. RiME has plenty of originality though, and a superb orchestral score to accompany the action and reflect the mood of the various levels. Music-wise you also collect parts of a haunting 'lullaby' by David Garcia Diaz, featuring the voice of Mirella Díez Morán.
I'm not about to suggest that RIME will become an unforgettable classic like Ico, Shadow of the Collossus or The Last Guardian but it's an absorbing, addictive, if not overlong adventure with a lot of heart.