Puzzles. Platforms. One hell of a bullet storm.

What on earth could go wrong?

Well thankfully with the unbelievably delightful Rise & Shine, not a lot. In fact, it’s very very good. But it’s also very very hard and will no doubt frustrate those whose skill levels aren’t quite up to par.

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Rise and Shine is, if you hadn’t already guessed, a puzzle platformer at heart, but it kicks on with gusto and stunning bullet storming throughout. It tells a brilliantly scripted tale of a young boy, Rise, the gift of his magical gun, Shine, betrayal and enlightenment. It’s funny, it’s heartfelt and it’s a story which you’ll strangely become engrossed in from start to finish. It also comes with plenty of nods, references and tributes to gaming’s history with Rise meeting up with some of the most famous names in the business. As much as I’d love to tell you exactly who, when and why these guys are in place, it would completely ruin the brilliant story that is being told. Just trust me on this one when I say that Gamearth, NPC Island and RPG City will make you smile time and time again.

It’ll also have you cursing time and time again as the gameplay found in Rise & Shine is hard. It is however meant to be running on the difficult side and plays on the fact that Rise will die, and respawn, many times throughout his adventure. Much of the reason behind this is that Rise & Shine is, on the whole, a fast paced arcade shooting romp through the very best puzzle platforming that gaming can throw up. You’ll need trigger fingers of steel (and even then they’ll be aching and screaming for some relent in the action), quick reflexes and plenty of thought from the very first moment right up to the last.

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It’s not all stupidly fast paced though and there are just enough moments of slower paced tactical puzzles included to give Rise & Shine a really unique feel. With three shooting options and a couple of bullet types emerging from Shine’s barrel, you’ll need to make the most of all options in order to complete the clever puzzles that are found within. They aren’t overly difficult, especially when put in comparison to the difficulty found in the main shooting aspects, but they will require you to think fairly deep. Do you need to carry on shooting as fast as you can with Shine’s standard bullet? Is it better to equip electrical bullets in order to dish out a bit more damage? Will this puzzle benefit from a super powerful sticky shot or well created, slow-motioned homing missile? You’ll need to constantly consider all these things throughout the few hours you’ll spend with this young boy and his new found gun.

To ensure that things tick over nicely, the mechanics included work brilliantly well and everything is as smooth and fluid as you could wish for. Occasionally a little frustration creeps in with regards the cover system that Rise tries to embrace, and the reloading of Shine is just too damn slow – especially when you’ve got all manner of bullets and enemies coming your way – but these are only slight issues which shouldn’t really affect your enjoyment. The constant dying, and subsequent respawning is also not a problem, as it is something which Adult Swim Games and the brilliantly named developers, Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team, have emphasised from the get go, playing on the fact that death is a key part of the gameplay.

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In order to combat too much repetition, well placed checkpoints have been included and you’ll rarely be left crying at having to replay too much of the game again. At least that is until you reach the very end of Rise’s tale, a point in which…well, you’re going to have to find that out for yourself. But if truth be told, I’ve never screamed at a game as much as I did during the build up to Rise and Shine’s conclusion. Those screams were amplified more so when I found that the usually reliable save point had given up the ghost and transported myself, Rise and his gun back further than need be. Oh man, did I swear and curse. Repeatedly.

Thankfully though that slight drawback was the only time I actually stopped smiling throughout my time with the game, very nearly holding it back from getting maximum marks. You see, Rise & Shine is funny without ever going over the top, it doffs its cap at every opportunity and it’s as spot on as it needs to be, with the hand drawn visuals excelling at all times. Some may find it relatively tough, and it’s no lie when I say I was on the verge of throwing my controller multiple times, but only once did it cross the line into something unpleasant and I’m happy enough to nearly ignore that slight mishap. If I was being really picky then I may be able to find it in myself to complain about the occasionally frustrating controls which send Rise hurtling headlong into Space Grunt death, but I won’t do that either, because it’s no massive deal. I’m not sure if I’ve already mentioned that death is a huge part of proceedings. But it is and it is that which should be embraced.

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In fact, I’m left here taking with me memories of a game that has shone throughout and risen enough to really put itself up there with the highest quality indie titles currently available. I’m utterly thankful that I stuck with the adventures of Rise & Shine, jumping, double jumping and pounding that trigger button right until the very end. Because you see, it delivers moments of magic throughout.

Puzzles, platforming and bulletstorming really does work. But the even more testing Iron Man mode might just be a step too far for this gamer’s fingers to take.

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