Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Rive Game Poster Image
Hard, fast-paced space shooter both tests, mocks skills.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

No message -- focus is blasting nearly everything in sight, collecting loot left behind.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pilot of player's ship isn't necessarily good, bad, but just a gruff, deep-space scavenger trying to snag whatever valuables he might find on derelict freighter.

Ease of Play

Simple controls; easy to learn, but game throws just about everything it can at you at any given time. You start off getting overwhelmed by enemies; game just gets harder from there. Incredibly difficult default mode; additional harder difficulty settings.


Nonstop action, violence, with constant streams of bullets, lasers, explosions, all hallmarks of shoot-'em-up genre. Despite amount of destruction, all targets are robots or space creatures; no graphic violence shown.


Occasional use of "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rive is a downloadable shoot-'em-up action game. It features nonstop arcade-style action as players navigate around, blasting anything that moves and collecting the bits of scrap and loot left behind. Although the shooting and violence are constant, they're directed at various mechanical, nonhuman targets. The game has fairly basic controls and is simple to pick up and play, but the difficulty curve is extremely steep, and players can expect to die quite often. The word "damn" is frequently used in dialogue.

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What's it about?

RIVE is the story of deep-space scavenger Roughshot and his (mis)adventures traveling through a derelict freighter. Navigating through the shipwreck in his hyperkinetic armored arsenal of a robotic space pod, Roughshot will run, jump, hack, and, most importantly, shoot his way to riches, blasting through anything that moves while collecting all the sweet, sweet loot that's left in his wake. With enemy attacks from every direction, Roughshot's 360-degree range of fire and motion will come in handy for players as they power through obstacles in Hard, Speed Run, and Single Credit modes. In Rive, there are only three rules: Live long, move fast, and chase that high score.

Is it any good?

This arcade-based shooter will demand much of your skills and your attention, but it's so frustrating and difficult that only players looking for a serious challenge will apply. Some games have deep stories with wild plot twists, a diverse cast of characters, and a focus on thinking before you act. And then there are games where you just pull the trigger and blow things up. Rive unashamedly falls into the latter category. This is a classic, arcade shoot-'em-up (also called "shmup"), where fast reflexes and an itchy trigger finger rule the day and the only "strategy" you need is memorizing the patterns of the enemies in your way. Rive looks and sounds fantastic, never faltering for even a second regardless of how much is happening on the screen at any given time. And make no mistake about it, there's always something happening on the screen. That's Rive's greatest strength and its biggest weakness. On the one hand, it's a symphony of bullets, explosions, destruction, and robotic carnage. On the other, it's an exasperating exercise in frustration.

Shmup games, by their nature, tend to challenge players with higher difficulty, but Rive cranks its difficulty up to 11. You know you're in trouble when the default difficulty setting is called "Hard Mode." This is challenging enough, with the learning curve swooping up at an insane pace, but for the more die-hard gamer, Rive also includes modes for Speed Run (racing the clock to complete stages as quickly as possible) and Single Credit (getting as far as possible in the game with a single life). Die too often and the game openly mocks you by offering up a "Soft Mode" with more powerful weapons and weaker enemies, in exchange for a 50 percent cut in your overall score. Thankfully, you can switch back at any time, so it can pay off to go the easy route on occasion, if for no other reason than to keep from ripping your hair out. Of course, sometimes the frustration has nothing to do with the game's difficulty. For instance, some checkpoints are set immediately where you blow up, resulting in you starting over at that spot, only to die again immediately. This can force you to perform a full game reset if you get trapped into this kind of irretrievable loop. For some, this might just represent an extra challenge, but for most, it's more like an exercise in masochism.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games such as Rive. How do different types of violence in games affect kids? Does the volume of violence matter more or less than the target of that violence?

  • Talk about difficulty in games. Although balance is preferred, would you rather play a game with a lower or higher difficulty? At what point does the difficulty make a game either boring or frustrating?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

Themes & Topics

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