Ryse: Son of Rome (XBOX One) Review
Updated: Sep 13, 2020
Game Name: Ryse: Son of Rome
Publisher: Microsoft Studios (XBOX One), Crytek (PC)
Release Date: November 22, 2013
Platforms: XBOX One, Microsoft Windows
This is a game that I have been wanting to play for a very long time. When it first came out, I had played the beta and I had fun but I opted to play Assassin's Creed: Unity instead. I never thought of going back to this game.
Upon its release, the game had received mixed reviews and I did not have a reason to get back to it. Also, I did not think that it was worth the price tag at the time.
Then a few weeks ago, I realized that this was available on Gamepass and I decided to take the plunge and see how it has aged. Now that it is years later, there is no pressure to succumb to negative press. Research told me that the single player campaign was not too long. So worst case scenario, if it was a bad game, it would not take long to complete.
This is what I love about streaming games, I get to complete games that I would normally not play.
Story / Gameplay
You play the character of Marius Titus, a Roman general who wants to avenge his family's murder.
The player will be playing from a third-person perspective. This is a RPG light game where during your journey, you will pick up various weapons and upgrades.
In order to upgrade your weapons and your abilities, you have in game currency that you gain by killing enemies. These will accumulate until you have enough to purchase upgrades. You can use real world money or you can just wait until you obtain more than enough in game currency.
The controls feel familiar, yet also dated at the same time. Basically the back buttons on the right, are your execution buttons. You can throw a stake if it is equipped or you can conduct an execution move.
The D-Pad (Directional Pad) is used for certain potions, where you can boost your rewards.
The player is equipped with a sword and shield. The Y button, can be used to stagger your enemies with your shield, so that you can then hit them with your sword (X Button). However, if you want to have a more potent attack, you can hold the Y or X buttons and this will give the player a more powerful attack. This is useful to destabilize stronger enemies with better defences.
You also have the ability to have critical hits or executions. In most cases the enemy will flash a certain colour. These colours match the colours on the XBOX controller buttons. However, there are other instances where it does seem like a luck of the draw.
Also, throughout the game, you have collectables. These can be Vista's artwork, Scrolls and Chronicles. Vistas are just artwork about the various areas in the game. They are very well done.
Scrolls give the player some lore to read on their travels and journey. They are not terribly long but they are a nice break from the hack and slash of the gameplay.
Last but not least, there are chronicles. These are more difficult to locate in the game. These collectibles are comic book pages that add to the lore of the game. Once again they are really cool when you are able to find them.
Ryse: Son of Rome - Sample Gameplay
I think personally that this game gets a worse wrap than it should. Let us go into the details of why this game should have fared better on the system.
First of all, this game came out in 2013 and it still looks amazing. Yes, not everything is perfect but the game from the characters to the city's looks great. Since 2013 we have had other games that look really good, but it feels like it took years. I feel like the character animations here could be compared to Assassin's Creed Odyssey, but this game came out years later (2018).
I really enjoyed the voice acting. However, would it hurt games to have voice actors that sound like they are from that part of the world. Some of the voices sounded American, when this is supposed to be taken place in Europe. Having said that, the acting was actually quite good though.
The story is good as well. Although, I did feel like it was a little short. The game took me just over 8 hours to complete. That is a pretty short story. The story felt similar to the movie Gladiator starring Russell Crowe. You are avenging your family's death. The villain is essentially the Emperor of Rome. You even have a few scenes in the Coliseum. It was really awesome to go through the story, but it did feel like the story was an after thought.
The controls, do feel dated. I did mention this on the stream. I had similar comments about The Witcher III (2015). Seems that throughout this generation we perfected the controls for these types of games and other games have done a better job of them. It is not that they are that bad, just that sometimes the buttons do not seem to react the way that you would want to. This led to my death a few times.
The combat system, does feel repetitive. You can basically do the same moves for the whole game and you do not have to change your style. The only time that you may need to adjust is during a boss fight. However, once you figure out the pattern, usually it is not that difficult to complete the task.
Similar to Doom Eternal, there are no save states. There are checkpoints that save your progress. I have always hated this. We have solved the saving issues years ago, why can we not save when we want. I just feel like this is laziness at this point. However, I can forgive Ryse a little more than Doom, as Doom Eternal came out this year.
Having read the above, you must be asking, why does he like this game? He seems to hate most aspects of it. That is the thing, although, I had some gripes with the game, it is still fun to play. You do feel like a badass and I think that this was a good foundation to build on for future games.
This is what makes this game a better than average game. Even if there are some things that are not great, it still is enjoyable. I think people expected an Assassin's Creed game when playing and that is not what they got. With a few tweaks a sequel could be huge for Crytek.
I am not sure if Crytek will attempt again at another Ryse. The sales figures for this game were poor. However, I think they just need to change their focus a little bit. They focused a lot on the multiplayer aspect, which I did not play. The story felt like an after thought. This would be a similar feeling to the Call of Duty campaigns. They can easily stay away from multiplayer, but build a world where you are a Roman and you are fighting all over Europe. I would have enjoyed doing some side quests.
I really did like the story. In fact, when I was done, I wish there was more of it. Due to the fact that this game is very linear, you do not get a chance to really connect with other NPC's (Non-Player Controlled). You feel like you will connect with your father, then he dies. You have your only other friend in your ranks and he ends up dying as well. So in the end, you feel more alone than you could have been.
I think that if you have Gamepass, it is a no brainer to play it. It is well worth the price of admission. If you can find this game at a lower cost, I think it is worth it as well. I will try to play the multiplayer at some point and see if it is still something that is worth playing.
What do you think? Was I off base? Let me know at the coordinates below.