When it comes to independently developed games, few genres are as well trodden as the Search Action or Metroidvania genre. Featuring large, nonlinear worlds that open up as the player discovers new tools and upgrades, these games often live and die by the unique flair that their creators give them and few of these games are quite as unique as Rabi-Ribi.
Rabi-Ribi tells the story of Erina, a pet rabbit who wakes up one day to find that she’s become a human girl in a bunny costume. Quickly adjusting to her new body, she decides to go looking for her master, Rumi, and her best friend, Miru, whom she has been separated from through unknown means. Her journey takes her across Rabi Rabi Island, an eclectic environment of multicolored caverns, floating graveyards, and much, much more. It is, for the most part, a lighthearted tale, though something more sinister lies in wait beyond the island.
Those threats aside, Rabi-Ribi looks about as lighthearted and fun as it seems. The game features a soft, pixel art style, paired with the occasional illustrated background. It’s an art style that’s not quite retro, but hearkens back to indie games of the past. While the character sprites themselves are well made and charming, they sometimes clash with higher definition backgrounds and HUD elements, which can take some getting used to. For example, an early beach area appears to feature three wildly different art styles that don’t quite blend together.
While the art style initially takes some getting used to, Rabi-Ribi’s music is appealing from the very start. Featuring a blend of chip tunes, arcade-like action themes, and the occasional dive into more atmospheric territory, the game’s music stands out as one of its highlights. Half the fun of discovering new areas comes from hearing new songs and it can make certain sequences of the game feel more dramatic than the pixel art would let on. This is definitely one soundtrack we’ll be listening to long after the main story is over.
Speaking of the main story, it will take most players around fifteen hours to beat it, with an additional ten to complete the post-game. The game’s mechanics start quite simply, with the Piko Hammer and a fairy companion named Ribbon acting as a basic melee and long-ranged attack respectively, but over the course of the game, the player’s combat and movement options grow rapidly. Simple fights eventually give way to complex battles, where the player needs to navigate one screen-full of bullets after another. Much like the art style, this took some getting used to. However, once we did, Rabi-Ribi made overcoming these challenges worthwhile through its dynamic gameplay and rewards.
That might be the best way to describe Rabi-Ribi: worthwhile. Though its zany story and occasionally clashing art style won’t appeal to everyone, those who are willing to give it a chance will find a charming, well-crafted Search Action game just beneath the surface. An excellent choice for the Metroidvania fan who wants something a little different in the genre.
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