Precision platformers—such as Slime-San, The End is Nigh, or Celeste—can be tough to pull off given their razor-sharp requirements. Make the game too frustrating, and most players won’t even try to overcome the devilish challenges laid out for them. Make the game too easy, and it’ll lose a lot of its ‘hardcore’ appeal. Pond Games' Rite is the latest entry in this exacting genre, concerning itself with nothing else than presenting you with 160 difficult platforming courses to attempt to beat. There’s no story, there aren’t many level gimmicks, and yet it remains a thrillingly gripping action game that no fan of the genre will want to miss.
What immediately sticks out about Rite is how excellent movement feels, something that can make or break a platformer. Your little priest/creature can go from standing to running full speed almost instantly and you have fine control over their momentum as you jump between walls and narrowly slip between saw blades. We did not run into a single instance where a death felt like it was tied to faulty inputs or strange physics; every button press is responsive and puts your character exactly where you intend to.
This is especially important given the tough level designs on offer here. While Rite may feel a little easier than its aforementioned peers in the genre, you’re sure to have to take at least a few attempts per level before you finally understand how to pass the axes, saw blades, and prickly vines that stand in your way. It’s easy to avoid being discouraged, too, given that stages only take about a second to reset every time you die. For those who are confident in their platforming skills, every stage has 20 collectible coins that often require you to take more risks; getting them all unlocks the final set of levels, which predictably give you a run for your money.
Getting that far doesn’t take too long, however; most of our clear times for levels sat somewhere in the 20-30-second range. This doesn’t include any failed attempts on a stage, but even factoring that in, there were only a handful of levels that took us longer than five minutes to clear. This is perhaps the weakest element of Rite—you’ll probably have gotten everything you can out of this game after a few days at most. But, we found this short run time to work in Rite’s favor, as levels passed by so quickly that it was nearly impossible to resist trying another.
As for presentation, Rite goes with a minimalistic approach that doesn’t feel cheap in its execution. Though environments are a little samey, sprites are sharply drawn and your character stands out well from the background, which also helpfully has a grid-like layout to make it easier to calculate jumps. The action is backed by a relatively low-key soundtrack that mixes synthwave elements, guitars, violins, and light vocalizations to create ambient music that fills space without being distracting or repetitive. Plus, it helps set a calm tone that counteracts the difficulty nicely.
Rite is an absolute gem that we hope isn't hidden by bigger releases hitting the eShop. Pond Games absolutely nails the execution of a simple concept and wraps things up before the game overstays its welcome. At the price of just seven bucks (even cheaper at launch), this one is a no-brainer pick-up for anyone who considers themselves a fan of tough platformers; tight controls, challenging levels, and a chill soundtrack all combine to make Rite the easiest of recommendations.