A Modern Masterpiece: Risk of Rain 2


(Image via Nintendo)

Joshua King, Arts and Entertainment Editor

My introduction to Hopoo games’ Risk of Rain 2 was it’s full release on Steam in August of 2020, making the front page. I had never heard of it before and looked into it further. It had almost all positive reviews and was on sale so I decided to try it out. I didn’t expect much from it, just another average indie game. But from the moment I first stepped foot on the Planet, I was stranded.

Risk of Rain 2 is a game that seems simple at a glance, even going with the tagline “Fight, Loot, Die, Repeat,” but is incredibly complex once you dive deeper. It’s a roguelike action game, managing to keep familiar roots and strange new branches. Unlike most similar games that increase the difficulty for every stage, Risk of Rain 2’s difficulty scales with time. The longer the run, the harder it gets to survive. This encourages an aggressively fast playstyle, forcing you to always be on the move. This, coupled with chaotic and diverse combat, makes for an extremely engaging experience that requires all of your attention to survive.

The Planet that the game takes place on, an unknown, unmapped world, is clearly extremely hostile. Everything about the Planet is designed to remind you that you are not welcome there; the landscapes are uneven and alien and nearly every creature alive on the Planet is trying to kill you. The characters in the game traveled to the Planet to look for another group that had gone missing after discovering the planet. You do learn the fate of this previous group, as one of the many locations you visit is their wrecked and abandoned home base. If you read the pieces of lore in the main menu, you learn that from the first moment that they stepped onto the Planet, they were fighting to stay alive while slowly getting picked off by the alien creatures that inhabit the cursed world.

The gameplay is described by the loop I mentioned earlier: “Fight, Loot, Die, Repeat.” You have to fight monsters in order to get enough money to buy items that will make you stronger. These monsters will likely eventually overwhelm and kill you, and so you do it all over again, trying to get as far as you can, with the goal of either just going as far as you can before dying, or beating the game via one of the multiple routes to do that. It’s fast, frantic, unpredictable, unforgiving, and it’s a blast. There is rarely a dull moment and things are always moving forward thanks to the clock always ticking. Overall, I have no complaints about anything in this game.

Risk of Rain 2 is, without a doubt, a masterclass in game design, style, and presentation. From the title card displaying the dead body of a survivor to the codex entries, this game excels in creating an atmosphere so potent that I have never experienced anything like it before, and will probably never experience anything like it again. From that day in August to the time of writing this, I have logged nearly 160 hours into this game, and it still continues to surprise me. If you have the time, I strongly suggest giving this game a try, it is well worth the price of admission.