The first time I had a good playthrough in “Risk of Rain 2” after it released as an unfinished early access game in 2019, I knew it was something special.
My character, a little robot, was plastered with upgrades — syringes that made me shoot faster, ukuleles that sparked jumping electricity through enemies and several teddy bears that gave me a chance of ignoring an incoming attack — and surrounded by dozens of enemies.
At its core, “Risk of Rain 2” is about frenetic mayhem that loads you up with mountains of powerful upgrades — sometimes making an absurdly powerful combo and sometimes working against each other — to take on increasingly larger waves of increasingly tougher enemies. Each playthrough you’ll start off as a slow, vulnerable character until you’re quadruple jumping your way into an insurmountable wave of enemies that will bring your wild ride to an abrupt end.
I played tons of it with my brother in the game’s online cooperative multiplayer mode while it was in early access and was more than happy to return to the series when it hit its full release on Aug. 11. The full release isn’t so much a major overhaul but a fine polishing of the game while bringing more of what made it so great.
There are more items, more enemies, more levels, more characters, more secrets and, if that kind of thing matters to you, an ending with a final boss. (The original release would cycle you through levels until the math became impossible.)
“Risk of Rain 2” will push your shooting and platforming skills to the edge while dropping in a load of random luck that will make every playthrough — a good one will last about an hour — unique. Sometimes you’ll find the just the right thing to combo with your character and sometimes you’ll find a completely unexpected mix of upgrades.
Risk of Rain 2 is sparse when it comes to its presentation. The graphics are relatively simple, the levels are bare and wide and there’s not much of a story, at least on first look. But all of that is in service of making the game a joy to play. The simplicity in graphics makes it easier to handle the chaos, the wide-open levels give you plenty of room to run around and the minimal story invites you to explore and discover the game’s many mysteries, some of which add to the story and others that unlock new characters and levels.
While stumbling across some of those secrets is a welcome discovery, unlocking some of the characters requires you to play in a way you might not otherwise in the normal course of action. (In those cases, checking out a walkthrough will help.)
After several playthroughs of the full release, I can’t wait to hop back into “Risk of Rain 2” because, man, I am rusty.
Matt Buxton is a freelance writer and gamer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Play
Game: Risk of Rain 2
Rating: 5 Stars
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Internet usage: 2.1 GB
Release Date: Aug. 11, 2020 (but out in early access since 2019)
ESRB Rating: Teen