Happiness is a warm, sentient gun.
At first glance, Rise & Shine may look like your average run-’n-gun game in the vein of such classics as Contra and Metal Slug, but don’t be fooled. There’s more here than meets the eye in this latest release from Adult Swim Games and developer Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team. Rise & Shine is a lead-laden romp that mixes tried-and-true shooting mechanics with a liberal dash of puzzle-solving and bullet hell conventions that makes for a truly unique experience that defies categorization.
Rise & Shine is set against the backdrop of Gamearth, an aptly-named land full of colorful characters who pay homage many of gaming’s most memorable icons. Suddenly, the armies of Nexgen (whose ranks are appropriately filled with bulky, COG-looking Space Marines) invade the land, turning the once-peaceful realm into a smoldering ruin. The Legendary Hero – who happens to look just like Link – is gunned down, and in his dying breath bestows our hero, a young boy named Rise, with Shine, a sentient pistol that gives those who wield it the ability to re-spawn and access a wealth of powerful add-ons. Some of these abilities range from electrical blasts that can damage mechanical enemies, to guided bullets that can used to attack hard to reach targets and hit distant switches. However, you can only guide your shots within the range of radio antennas that are scattered around the world, meaning you’ll have to put careful consideration into how you approach each situation. It’s a cool mechanic, and it adds a welcome layer of depth that makes each area you discover and boss you encounter feel like its own unique puzzle rather than a mere bullet-sponge.
In addition to to the frequent puzzle-solving sections, Rise & Shine’s gunplay is also a bit more fleshed-out than you’d expect. Taking notes from modern stop-and-pop shooters like Gears of War, Rise can hide behind various obstructions that litter each battlefield, which adds valuable protection when you want to reload or dispatch your enemies one at a time with careful volleys of fire. This, combined with a handy phase-dash maneuver are techniques you’ll need to master early on, because one or two shots is all it takes to turn Rise into a puddle of twitching gristle.
This is especially true during the boss fights, of which there were two in the early demo we played. The final encounter was against a towering mech, and beating him required pixel-perfect timing as you dash in and out of volleys of fire, using your electrical shots to target specific parts of him in order to cancel an otherwise unavoidable charge attack that can kill Rise in a single hit. After whittling him down, you’ll then have to steer your guided shots along an array of antennas to strike his weak point. Failing to do so in time will make you have to repeat the whole cycle all over again. To make matters worse, after each hit his attack patterns become even more frantic, turning the entire fight into a brilliant ballet of bullet dodging mayhem that will take all of your skills to overcome – and this is just the first level!
Throughout our time spent with this early build of the game, Developer Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team’s love for classic gamings and sharp wit work to deliver a delightful run-n-gun romp that constantly crashes through the fourth wall like the Kool-Aid Man on a methamphetamine bender. Rise & Shine’s wonderfully self-aware sense of humor and surprisginly refined combat system make for a potent combination that’s sure to grab the attention of any sadistic shooter fans with a healthy funny bone. This early portion of the game shows a great deal of promise, and we can’t wait to dive further into the title and see what’s in store as this dynamic duo fight to save Gamearth.
Rise & Shine is coming to the PC and Xbox One on January 13. Stay tuned for our full thoughts on this trigger-happy title closer to the game’s release date.
So, do you think you’ll be picking the game up when it launches next month? If so, you might want to start training those thumbs early, because Rise & Shine isn’t taking any prisoners. As always, we’d love to hear what you think. Be sure to let us know in the comments section.