Developer: CreSpirit, GemaYue
Release Date: 01/09/2017
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Playstation Vita, PC
I knew that Rabi-Ribi was going to be a fairly strange game from the get go. I mean, you’re playing as a ‘sexy’ rabbit who has been transformed into a human – if that’s not peculiar I don’t know what is. However, if you can look past the incredibly weird concept (and some slightly perverse scenes), you’ll actually find there’s an incredibly charming and highly enjoyable action platformer to be found.
Rabi-Ribi puts you in the shoes (or is it paws?) of Erina – a rabbit who has been mysteriously transformed into a young girl with bunny features. Whilst trying to find out how and why she’s been transformed, Erina ends up on a quest to help save Rabi-Ribi Town and all of its inhabitants by defeating the evil presence that’s lurking behind the scenes. She’s not alone though, with the peculiar yet pleasant fairy Ribbon travelling alongside her to offer some magical assistance.
That might sound completely bizarre – and believe me it is – but it actually makes for a charming little tale that’s difficult not to find yourself absorbed into.
It’s helped by the fantastic interactions that Erina shares with the population of the world, with Rabi-Ribi featuring a wonderfully weird cast. You’ll come across a wide variety of characters that, despite being a little stereotypical, always have something interesting or comical to say. Rabi-Ribi never takes itself too seriously, but what do you expect from a game about rabbits that have been transformed into people?
Rabi-Ribi’s gameplay sees you adventuring across a wide variety of 2D environments, with the game blending together platforming with a good amount of combat. Despite being simple in design, there’s a lot to like about the game’s combat mechanics; the early areas might see you simply mashing buttons to smash enemies apart, but it doesn’t take too long before you’re unlocking all new moves and abilities that make Erina quite the fearsome combatant.
You can mix together a nice variety of up-close melee skills with ranged attacks, giving you the freedom to take multiple approaches as to how you take enemies down. You also have access to a small selection of magic attacks that Ribbon is able to perform, which also give you a powerful means to take down the countless foes that come your way.
You’ll keep unlocking new combat abilities as you progress through the game, though you aren’t able to use them freely whenever you want; Erina has an SP meter that has to be recharged before you’re able to keep attacking. Fortunately, standard encounters with enemies shouldn’t push you to the limit too much, but the tricky boss battles on the other hand could be more tactical affairs…
I hope you like boss battles, because Rabi-Ribi is absolutely full to the brim with them – I started to lose count after thirty-five, though that figure alone is very impressive for a 2D platforming adventure. Whilst most of the standard enemies you encounter throughout the game don’t put up too much of a fight (well… not until later on in the game, anyway), the boss battles will see you dodging bullet hell like scenarios with the screen completely filling up with deadly projectiles. You’ll have to be switched on with both your platforming and your combat skills if you want to survive, but it makes for an utterly compelling experience. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t masses of variety to be found throughout the countless amount of boss encounters, but they always provided an enjoyable showdown that really showed off the hidden intricacies of Rabi-Ribi’s combat mechanics.
One of the things I liked the most about Rabi-Ribi was that it had Metroidvania-like elements, with the massive map of the world full of hidden areas that you can’t explore until you’ve unlocked new traversal skills. Whilst this does mean you’ll be doing a lot of backtracking throughout your adventure, it also means there’s an abundance of new platforming abilities to be found – you’ll be double-jumping, wall-jumping, sliding around… you know, the usual. Thankfully, the game’s controls are spot on, so pulling off all of these manoeuvres is not only simple but enjoyable too; Rabi-Ribi really does offer a solid blend of platforming and action.
Be warned though, the map is pretty big. I’ve already mentioned you’ll be backtracking, but you’ll be doing this over fairly large distances. The developers seem to have acknowledged that this is an issue for gamers though and there is a fast-travel feature in the game to bypass some of the longer trips, though there’ll still be times when you’ll be exploring previously trodden areas trying to find any signs of hidden places you couldn’t reach before.
Rabi-Ribi features a retro style aesthetic, with the game looking like it could’ve easily been released on the NES or SEGA Master System. It’s nice, but incredibly basic, with the game world lacking the detail that’s often found in other indie platforming adventures. At least it features plenty of detailed CG illustrations to go along with it, though the somewhat seedy nature of these can be a bit questionable. Maybe it’d be a good idea to play Rabi-Ribi when no one else is in the room…
There’s a fairly lengthy adventure to be had in Rabi-Ribi, with it taking me over ten hours to just finish the game. That’s without finding all the hidden collectibles and discovering every inch of the map, so keen completionists can probably add a few extra hours onto that tally. Outside of collectibles, there are also additional difficulties to play through as well as a few extra game modes. The ‘Boss Rush’ mode was a particular favourite of mine – especially since the battles were the highlight of the game for me.
Rabi-Ribi offers a highly enjoyable adventure that I found easy to get absorbed into, with the simple platforming mechanics and hectic boss encounters ensuring I was entertained throughout my time with the game.
I never really felt blown away by the visual style and the story might be a little bit too bizarre for some, but in all Ribi-Rabi makes for charming action-platforming experience that’ll keep a smile on your face from start to end.