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Feature Article

Nintendo Switch's Poorly Optimized Rime Port Betrays Its Finer Qualities

Rime's Switch port doesn't hold up so well.

Whether successful or not, Rime is almost entirely focused on evoking emotional reactions. It's a shame, then, that when playing its Nintendo Switch port, I could only think about cold, hard numbers like frame rate and resolution.

As with the PS4 and Xbox One versions, the Nintendo Switch edition of Rime suffers from frame rate issues. It's much worse than those platforms, however. In some of its more open areas, Rime slows down dramatically, dragging you out of the ostensibly affecting story it's trying to tell and into the realm of that most exciting and touching subject: mathematics.

The problem is (mostly) lessened when you're indoors, but here frame dips are still common--and in any case, saying it's fine when you're inside is little consolation when Rime's main attractions lie outside the front door and in its colorful landscapes. Developer Tequila Works and publisher Grey Box have addressed some of the port's early criticism by saying, "Rime runs at 30 FPS in 720p throughout most of the game while docked. This is a considerable improvement from where the game was at earlier this year when we announced the first delay."

They continued: "With Rime being very open in many locations, it's incredibly difficult to get these level segments small enough to not cause a hiccup in performance. We were faced with the choice of adding loading screens throughout the stages, rebuilding the game completely to be more closed in (undermining the product vision in the process), or living with these small hiccups to preserve what the game was intended to be. We chose the latter."

Undocking the Switch can help smoothen out the frame rate a little, but playing Rime while on the go isn't ideal either: this drops the resolution down to levels of blur only seen when I try and use my iPhone after eating a pizza. The decrease in fidelity makes it hard to see what you're doing or where you're going, and distracts from the story Rime attempts to tell.

"When looking at the handheld mode, we had to make a choice between lowering the resolution, removing/replacing major parts of the level geometry, or having a bigger hit in performance," Grey Box and Tequila Works said of the game in undocked mode. "We decided to go for the former, because it allows us to maintain the integrity of the gameplay experience."

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Of course, Rime's allure mostly lies in its aesthetic rather than in raw graphical power, and much of that natural beauty has survived the porting process. However, some textures appear rougher than on PS4 and Xbox One, and our nameless protagonist has grown a jagged edge or two.

Rime's comparisons to Zelda may have helped its public perception before and even after its PS4 / Xbox One release. But with this Switch port now complete and available worldwide this week, any such comparisons are no longer favorable for Rime. In a time and on a console where the big and beautiful Breath of the Wild exists and looks as good as it does, Rime's shortcomings are exposed more than ever.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Oscar Dayus

Oscar is GameSpot's Staff Writer, and as the youngest member of the UK office he's usually the butt of the joke.
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Avatar image for nintendians
nintendians

they will find a way to patch the game in some way. the "switch" was never meant to run as strong as a xbox one.

Avatar image for meatymisto
MeatyMisto

I know they had problems with this game due to Unity engine still not running well on Switch. It's just crazy to me how Skyrim and Breath of the Wild can run well, while Rime runs like booty. Was really hoping Rime would turn out well, was waiting to play it for Switch, now I guess i'll play it on PS4.

Avatar image for Pedro
Pedro

@meatymisto: The game is running Unreal not Unity.

Avatar image for ello432
ello432

Hopefully it can be smoothed out in patches. The PC launch port wasn't much better. It even refueled the debate that Denuvo cause's performance issues. Rime's first patch removed Denuvo and thats all the patch did, there was a noticeable improvement in frame-rate stability.

Avatar image for davillain-
DaVillain-

I've seen a lot of streams where the frame rate is in single digits. So yeah, it can be really bad. Then again, all consoles seem to have performance issues with RIME though. It's just a badly optimized game.

Moderator Online
Avatar image for xantufrog
xantufrog

Something about this game's development soured me when it initially released. I don't think the devs had the resources, but I also wonder if they had the motivation, to do an optimized port?

Moderator
Avatar image for lostn
lostn

an indie is not going to have the resources and time to make the switch port as good as the other two. It takes more time since it's different hardware. And it will be 6 months late.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@lostn: all versions of the game are jenky and plagued by performance problems, although not half as bad as the switch port.

Avatar image for wexorian
wexorian

@walidras: No it does not, it has problems on ALL platforms, it's badly optimized for everything.

Avatar image for DARREN636
DARREN636

@walidras: third party might be a problem since N64

Avatar image for Pedro
Pedro

@walidras: Nintendo treats it as a console, it’s marketed as a console so it should be viewed and treated as one.

Avatar image for lostn
lostn

@walidras: Everyone likes to call and treat it like a console though.

Avatar image for lebanese_boy
lebanese_boy

@walidras: ??

The Switch decimates the Vita what are you talking about?

Also this is the case of a poorly programmed game that had issues even on more powerful platforms, hardly a case to be scared about Switch ports especially in a world where Doom, LA Noire and Skyrim exist.

Avatar image for lebanese_boy
lebanese_boy

@walidras: Amazing crystal ball you got there, mind giving me tomorrow’s lottery number?

Avatar image for lostn
lostn

@lebanese_boy: He said weak 'like' the Vita, not weak 'as' the Vita. It released 5 years apart.

All handhelds will be weak compared to true consoles.

Avatar image for Noformation
Noformation

I held off playing this game until it released on Switch; what a mistake. The port is not optimized well and it's potentially the worst looking game on Switch. Undocked play looks like absolute horse sh*t; the aliasing is so prominent that it's distracting. I won't even try to play it again until this is fixed.

Avatar image for deactivated-5c1d0901c2aec

This is disappointing. I was holding out for the Nintendo Switch version but I will play the PC version instead.

Thanks for the heads up, Oscar!