Platform: PC

It seems as if 2D platformers are constantly trying to one-up each other. For every game that introduces a sadistic gameplay feature, you’ll get another one, eventually, that tops it with an even higher amount of tough levels and boss encounters. That’s why Rite from developer Pond Games is such a breath of fresh air. It’s difficult, yes, but it has a “my-first-brutal-2D-platformer” quality to it that makes it more accessible despite still being quite punishing.

Buzz Saws and Swinging Blades — You Know the Drill

If you’ve played games like Super Meat Boy, Love by Fred Wood, and Celeste, you’re familiar with the gameplay and level design tropes of retro-inspired 2D platformers. There are a lot of traps, spikes, and buzz saws — death is everywhere. Rite follows that same basic blueprint. You’re surrounded by an environment that wants to kill you.

The main goal in each level is to grab a key that opens an exit once you collect it. It sounds simple enough, but in between you and the key you’ll be tasked with jumping over barbed plants or swinging axes, or wall-jumping while trying to avoid moving buzz saws and other obstacles. Once you collect the key, the door will instantly open — so now it’s a trek to the door, usually with an equal amount of dangers to overcome.

None of this new to the genre, but the way Rite always sort of avoids going full Super Meat Boy means that success never feels impossible. The challenge bar is set high here, but not so high that you’ll ever feel discouraged. And yes, there may be moments where you rage and get annoyed, but while playing I noticed that I never really felt like putting the controller down, and that’s thanks to how inviting Rite is.

Admittedly, Rite doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel for 2D platformers, but that doesn’t make it a bad or weak game. Instead, it takes everything that makes games like this so good and adds a more approachable design so that you feel like the game is welcoming you into its world. While that may feel like a stark contrast to the actual world design — I mean, the game thrives on killing you — it makes for quite the interesting gameplay dichotomy.

Where Rite does follow suit with games of its ilk is in its controls. The level of precision with every movement and jump is absolutely perfect and feels great. It can’t be overstated enough how important precise controls are for a game like this, and Rite features highly responsive and precise controls so you never feel like you’re being cheated by the game.

Evolving Difficulty

The first few levels in Rite aren’t all that challenging. In fact, you might find yourself playing the game for about 10 to 15 minutes and wondering if it’ll ever get difficult. It certainly does, but the approach to difficulty here is more of a steady climb than an instant hit.

While your main goal in the game’s 160 levels is to grab the key and head to the exit, there are a bunch of coins placed ever so precariously all over the levels. Grabbing these is where the real challenge lies, and honestly, it’s how you’ll get the most out of Rite. I breezed through a few stages, but when I attempted to collect every coin, it felt like unlocking a special difficulty, and it made everything all the more entertaining.

A Pixel Art Platformer That You Should Play

Visually, Rite looks great thanks to its charming pixel art and pastel colors. Each of the five worlds has a lot of levels, and they all look stylistically similar, so things do start to look a little same-y, even if the game never looks bad.

Typically, 2D platformers feature catchy chiptune music and high-energy soundtracks. The music in Rite leans more toward an atmospheric sound, but it fits the look of the game’s worlds quite nicely. Not every song is all that catchy or memorable, but there are a few nice tunes.

You’ll get about five hours of playtime out of Rite if you’re just going for the keys. If you attempt to collect all the coins in every level, you can easily add another two hours to that. And again, it just feels worth it to hunt down every coin, because while the game may be really hard, it never turns the dial up to sadistic. Even if you enjoy your platformers on the more punishing side, don’t let the more beguiling nature of Rite dissuade you from playing it, because there’s still a lot of hearty challenge to enjoy here.

Rite may be the most approachable brutal 2D platformer to come along in a while. It’ll lure you in with its nice pixel art and hook you with its curious level designs. It’s tough, and it feels great to play thanks to the precise controls. It never feels like the game is out to destroy you even though it very much wants to kill you, and honestly, that’s kind of refreshing.