Rain, Rain, Go and Play: Risk of Rain 2 Review

People use the phrase “out of left field” to describe something that surprised them in some manner. The saying comes from the sport of baseball, and it is typically associated with a ball thrown from left field that can surprise the runner.

I don’t play baseball, but I’m rather fond of the saying. It’s one of my favorite ways of saying that something delighted or weirded me out unexpectedly.

Risk of Rain 2 came out of left field. I’d heard about it vaguely, information about the game coming from tiny references in gaming articles or offhanded mentions during a stream. So when the game was on sale, I decided to buy it and give it a whirl.

Holy shit.

Risk of Rain 2 surprised me with how engrossing and fun it could be. Its straightforward gameplay loop drew me in and kept me playing for hours. More than once, I stayed up till 2 in the morning trying to finish a lengthy run.

It is a roguelike third-person shooter, and for those of you who don’t know what the term “roguelike” stands for, it means the levels are procedurally generated and once you die, you’re dead. Your run is over. You have to start from scratch.

However, don’t let this turn you off from Risk of Rain 2. The game’s immense replayability makes it an utter joy to start up again.

The game has a decent handful of maps to explore. Each map will have randomly placed items every time you spawn there. Every map will also have a teleporter that needs to be activated to move on to the next level. Enemies will pop up to take swipes at you, and in order to defeat them, you should collect as many of the items as you can find on the map. These items cost money, and money is gained every time you down an enemy.

And that’s pretty much all there is to gameplay.

It’s a terribly simple premise, but it sucks you in with how satisfying it is. The game is action-packed, so there are never any dull moments where you’re wandering around the map with nothing to do. Enemies are constantly thrown at you, and you have to defeat them before an insurmountable swarm overcomes you.

In addition to that, the items (and how useful they are) are a huge part of why you want to persist in playing to the end of your run, no matter how long it takes. The items can stack upon each other infinitely. So, for instance, there is an item called a Hopoo Feather that gives your character an extra jump. There is nothing that stops you from getting more of these. As long as you can find them on the map and you have the money to buy them, you can stack these Hopoo Feathers like there’s no tomorrow until your character can jump in the air twenty times or more.

The absence of limits is liberating, and the game refuses to tell you no when it comes to gaining items. And when the enemies consistently increase in numbers and difficulty, you’re going to need those items.

Dodging foes can become a bit tricky when the screen is crowded with brightly colored enemies and laser blasts and fire attacks, but mastery over the combat eventually means you can recognize attack patterns and avoid them with practice.

My absolute favorite aspect of Risk of Rain 2 is how differently each character plays. Oftentimes, in games that include different classes, they all have the same feel when you play as them. There’s just a minor difference or two between one and another.

In Risk of Rain 2, the different playable characters you acquire all have different playstyles to get accustomed to.

And the fantastic thing is that even though they’re incredibly different, they’re all equally viable.

For example, aside from the Commando who is the standard default character, there is the Huntress. She’s got the lowest health pool initially from the group of characters you can unlock, but she’s the fastest. She can sprint and shoot at the same time, something no other character can do. Her bow also automatically locks on to enemies without you having to do more than generally aim in their direction.

If a squishy speedster is not your style, you can play as the Engineer. He can toss out grenades, but he’s not really a precision fighter. His true strength lies in his deployable turrets. Any items he collects are also applied to these turrets, which essentially gives him up to a three “man” squad any time he goes up against a boss.

But what if you like to get up close and personal? Then maybe the Mercenary is right for you. The Mercenary wields a sword, so getting right next to enemies is the name of the game. This is incredibly daunting when going up against flying opponents that like to stay out of reach, but it is oh so satisfying to slice them to bits.

Risk of Rain 2 was a surprising amount of fun for me, especially given that I’m particularly fond of story-based games. (I’m a fan of the walking simulator for crying out loud.) And just in case you were worried about not having played the original title, you have nothing to fear. I never played the first game. But that didn’t stop me from adoring the second, even though it did come from out of left field.

I rate Risk of Rain 2 a drizzling-torrent-of-a-good-time-that-is-unironically-the-perfect-game-to-play-on-a-rainy-day.

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