Ryse: Son of Rome launched with the Xbox One as a timed exclusive. No doubt many Xbox One owners picked up this title; there wasn’t much else to buy for the console at that time. I was not part of this group; I waited, patiently, for the PC port. Using an Xbox 360 controller, I slashed my way through this bloody game with little challenge with all settings on maximum. The frame-rates were mostly steady and the entire experience was exciting. If you were to search Metacritic for reviews on Ryse, you’ll find them below average regardless of the version (presently 61/100 of PC and 60/100 on Xbox One). As I’ve stated many times on our Games podcast, I believe review scores are relative to the reviewer. I’ve given Ryse a very good score because I like the setting, found the duration accessible, and it fit in perfectly with my life this winter - I didn’t have the capacity for a complicated game.
A big part of why I enjoyed Ryse is the game’s setting. It takes place in ancient Rome - you play as a Titus, a solider in the Roman army. His body animations, clothing, accessories, even facial hair look exquisite. The voice acting is outstanding. All things considered, Titus a very relatable character. He loves his family and would do anything to protect them. He’s brutal and unforgiving on the battle field. He’s basically William Wallace. This is a story of revenge, which is my favorite kind. There are other good characters as well. The emperor Nero is a real twit. Titus’ father is brave and nurturing. Again, solid voice acting shroud these characters.
The combat is simple: beat down on a bad guy and then enter into a QuickTime Event (QTE). Ultimately you will execute your foe with a myriad of options that you unlock as the game progresses and you’ve gained experience. Crytek have made it very easy for players to know when a foe is ready to be executed. They’ll glow in either yellow or red. And there really is no consequence for messing up. Some may feel this is too easy - but hey, it all depends on the player. I’ll admit, it was an easy game for me, and I would not have enjoyed it if it were 10 hours. At 5 hours, easy games don’t run long in the tooth for me.
Ryse is very linear. There are a few “door #1 vs. door #2” moments but ultimately you’re just going down a corridor to gather a collectible and then you’ll double back. There are forest areas where this happens a lot. What redeems Ryse in this settings is how gorgeous the game is.
Ryse feels a lot like Spartacus - the recent TV series on Showtime. It’s brutal, viscous, but inspiring. If you’re not a fan of bloody, violent games - this is not for you. But if you’re in the mood for a bloody good time that lasts roughly 5 hours of campaign time, I suggest you give it a shot. I picked up Ryse: Son of Rome on a Steam sale in December for under $20. I’m sure you’ll find similar prices again soon.