Development Blues – Could Rime be Primed for Disappointment?

It would seem that Rime – thought abandoned by many after years of inactivity – is back in the limelight once more thanks to its shocking re-reveal as part of IGN’s First program. Though as of yet we have only been treated to a teaser trailer, the internet has collectively embraced the return of a game that many (including myself) were utterly enchanted by back when it was originally revealed at Sony’s 2013 Gamescom conference. From what I can make out from this brief re-reveal trailer, Rime looks as gorgeous and captivating as it did all those years ago. However, there is a dark history to this game, lurking in the nether regions and thus forgotten – or at least unacknowledged – by the majority of those now heralding its return.

Interestingly, while Rime used to be a Sony exclusive, it has now changed tact and chosen to go multi-platform, with the game releasing on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo’s upcoming Switch hybrid console. The reasons behind this startling change are murky at best, but it would seem that Sony categorically decided to walk away from their partnership with Tequila Works, the developers responsible for the game. This was shocking to say the least, and the event left many in the industry speculating whether or not the game was in dire straits, even perhaps destined for cancelation. I believe that the former has to be somewhat true, as large companies like Sony or Microsoft don’t just blissfully walk away from promising projects which are resoundingly applauded by the masses – that is unless there is something seriously wrong said game.

For context, Rime isn’t the only game in recent memory that Sony have abandoned. Dontnod’s action-adventure title Remember Me was originally set to be a PS3 exclusive under the name Adrift, yet was cancelled and then later resurrected as a multiplatform release by Capcom. The game faced mixed reviews upon its release, and given the lack of a sequel in recent years, it most likely failed to meet sales expectations. Remember Me was by no means a catastrophic failure, yet its (assumedly) soft sales and lack of significance within the overall sphere of gaming culture certainly lends credence to Sony’s choice to abandon the project.

As such, due to want happened to Remember Me, I cannot help but remain doubtful when it comes to Rime’s potential in light of the game’s dismissal by Sony. Now of course, the disintegration of the relationship between the two could merely be accounted as a conflict of interest between both parties. On the other hand, it is possible that managerial disagreements are not to blame. After all, Sony is a business, and thus only the threat of a potentially wasted investment would likely spur them to sever exclusivity ties with Tequila Works.

However, Sony weren’t the first to invest time and money into the development of Rime. It was Microsoft who originally bankrolled the game, a deal they requisitioned in return for the game becoming an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive. This deal, however, fell through due a conflict of interest between what Microsoft wanted the game to be (multiplayer-centric) and what the team over at Tequila works envisioned the project to be.

Now, it is entirely possible that the breakdown between Sony and Tequila Works was brought about by similar circumstances, yet a quick examination of other Sony-backed indie exclusives like That Game Company’s Journey or Giant Sparrow’s upcoming title What Remains of Edith Finch somewhat quashes such a theory. Unlike Microsoft, (at that time at least) Sony was all-in on smaller, digital single-player experiences, and thus Rime seemed like a perfect fit for Sony’s portfolio.

Yet, as we all know, the two companies parted ways. Rime’s re-reveal in certainly a cause for excitement, especially given the aforementioned enthralling beauty on show in the game’s newest trailer, yet I cannot help but temper my expectations. The videogames industry loves to forget the past, and as such I am worried for the future of Rime. I don’t expect it to be a monumental failure akin to No Man’s Sky, but given the fact that two industry giants have walked away from the project, a certain amount of scepticism should be taken.

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