• Language
  • £
  • Login

Ryse: Son of Rome Review

If Ryse has got one thing going for it, then it has to be it’s looks. I wouldn’t say it’s got no brains, it’s certainly got some, it’s just that they are more akin to a goldfish than anything else. You see, while the beauty of this game will keep you hooked, the repetitive nature isn’t exactly appealing. Things do get a little better as you progress, but it sometimes feels like a bit of slog to get there.

The story of Ryse is at least interesting. Our hero is Marius and the game follows his life on the way to an eventual act of revenge. You’ll control him throughout using the Xbox controller to slay through many barbarians as they try to overthrow Rome by carrying out all manner of blocks, parry and execution moves and ensure they never live to tell the tale of how close they came.

It’s fair to say if you want to show off your Xbox One’s graphical capabilities then Ryse is the game to do it. Not only do the environments look fantastic, but the character animation, which is the result of full motion capture, will fool your eyes, often making you feel like you are watching a movie rather than playing a game. As briefly mentioned, the game is based on Roman times, therefore the environments are filled with plenty of references to this era. There’s Roman architecture and arenas, but also beaches, swamps, and some beautiful looking forests. It really does look that stunning in parts, although on occasion it does make a trip to uncanny valley. 

Sticking with the positives, character animation is as smooth as butter, even when the action heats up, things never seem to slow down. It’s an impressive start to the next generation as a spectacle, it’s just that it doesn’t quite nail things as a game. The main problem when it comes to Ryse is that it’s repetitive. There are only so many ways you can slay a barbarian to pieces before you’ve had enough. Unfortunately the game fails to really challenge the player with anything other than combat. There are no real puzzles to be had or any big set pieces. Instead you are either in the throws of combat, countering and slashing or taking control of your army, commanding them to fire a volley of arrows with ‘LB’ while you continue to slash away at anything in your path. Occasionally you’ll have to take control of a mounted crossbow and take enemies down from a distance, or grab the spears you find lying around to throw at archers, but this doesn’t really add much to the gameplay.

While the combat is repetitive, at least it works well. Combat consists of basic attack, blocks and heavy attacks. In order to win the battles you’ll need to learn the timing to perfection, so when an enemy attacks you from behind, making a block at the perfect time will give you the ultimate advantage. You’ll also need to learn how to bash in order to knock an enemy off guard and get behind their shield and of course, you’ll need to perfect your evade skill, which allows you to escape a sticky situation when you are surrounded by enemies. 

One of the things I kept forgetting to do through the adventure was upgrade Marius’ skills. From the menu you are able to upgrade health, improve executions, focus and more. This is very handy as even on the lower difficulties the game can be quite tough. Luckily Marius does have some extra skills to help him get through the more difficult battles. A special ‘slow motion’ power-up allows Marius to slow time and get plenty of hits in on the enemy to take them down. Useful when you are up against multiple enemies with your health on the ropes.

As you get further into the game, the Boss battles start to appear. Frustration is a good word to use for these because they are so tough to defeat and when you eventually do get their health bar down, it’ll often spring right up again. Bosses seem to have a knack of hitting you with unblockable attacks, which will often result in you having to try on multiple occasions to defeat them, although if you stick at it you’ll eventually manage.

Away from the single player campaign, Ryse provides access to a co-op multiplayer modes which lets you take on a friend in multiple arenas. Before each fight, you’ll pick a god to serve, and will be rewarded a special bonus for doing so. Powers gained from these reward include Fires of War, Solo Stun, Time Storm and also Hurricane Blast, the latter of which pushes enemies away. There is also a solo option in the arenas too, which provides various scenarios for you to play through and therefore adds some extra replay-ability to the overall experience. The multiplayer does replicate the rinse and repeat nature of the solo campaign, but at least playing with friends makes it more fun.

Ryse: Son of Rome is certainly a next generation experience, of that there is no doubt. The game looks stunning and is a spectacle throughout. It’s main draw back is that it does get repetitive, however as it becomes more challenging this issue does fade a little. If Ryse was any longer than six hours long it’d probably be quite hard to recommend, but if you can overlook these flaws and concentrate on the overall experience, then you’ll no doubt be entertained.

Words by Joe Anderson.
@_wotta | PSN/Xbox LIVE: wotta

(Version Tested: Xbox One)


+ Looks Stunning
+ Great Acting
+ Interesting Story


- Gets very repetitive
- Not enough challenges/puzzles

Edited On 24 Nov, 2013

( 11 )
PrometheusFan's avatar
PrometheusFan 3 years ago
Read a lot of reviews of this game and all I can say is it's rather telling that none of them have anything particularly nice to say about the gameplay. Also, yet another review that fails to inform about the microtransaction nickle and diming that has been present in every first party release on Xbone so far.
Joe2120's avatar
Joe2120 3 years ago
Oh I did notice that, never used it so never mentioned it. Maybe I should have. Anyway, you basically buy gold to upgrade your skills if you want to. Personally I didn't need it during the game.
Kuzz's avatar
Kuzz 3 years ago
When I played it on the Xbox One Tour down London I thought it was great and was rather jealous that it was a Xbox exclusive as I'm getting the PS4, but mostly because of the Pros that you guys have actually listed... I obviously only played a demo which wouldn't let me play it long enough to see how repetitive it gets and that there isn't enough puzzles etc. What a shame it's had the reviews it has had. It is a beautiful game graphics wise, and a great idea.
Zombieflamingo's avatar
Zombieflamingo 3 years ago
This is what I find strange about reviews in general, not so much the ones here as they do not give scores just pros and cons. I dont understand how this can get average scores with it being marked down for having repetitive combat and lack of puzzles but then you have another game with the same issues and having the same pros of interesting story, great visuals and great actors getting 9s or 10s it just seems a bit weird. The microtransactions are strange I will never use them and you can get things without it though there must be a market for it as its the same as other companies have been doing for a while with paying to unlock things earlier.
Joe2120's avatar
Joe2120 3 years ago
That's why I don't bother with review scores on this site. They are a marketing tool, nothing more.
Kaysar's avatar
Kaysar 3 years ago
A paid game which has microtransactions in it? Wow, that would royally annoy me. As long they're only used as "cheats" to level up, I suppose its not so bad. But were important pieces of kit/characters/missions only available through added payment from the moment the game is released I'd feel ripped off.
Zombieflamingo's avatar
Zombieflamingo 3 years ago
It is just there for people who do not want to put in the time really. From what I have played it is not too hard to get the money to buy the packs of armour. I agree with you Joe thats why I prefer these types of reviews with a pros and cons list over a random number.
Kaysar's avatar
Kaysar 3 years ago
Well that's fair enough. As an example, I played Simpsons Tapped Out on my phone and for the most part you can just spend more time playing the game to unlock features. However, certain characters and missions are only really available by paying real money. For the Simpsons I'm not bothered as the game was free. However, had I paid money for it, and then found out I could only unlock certain things by paying again, I would be extremely miffed.
Lucas600's avatar
Lucas600 3 years ago
well i completed it last and i thoroughly enjoyed it . It looks amazing and the finishes you can do on double opponents and with the environment are cool. Really enjoyed the story as well was a bit gutted when it ended as was really enjoying it. Not played multiplayer on it yet but hoping to spend sometime on that and enjoy it just as much. Hopefully they will make another and all they would have to do to get a 9 or higher i would say would be to make story longer and from what others don't like would be to do a devil may cry combo and skills type of thing. For me this game would definately be a 8.
JoeToots's avatar
JoeToots 3 years ago
As i'm getting a ps4 this is the exclusive that i'm sort of abit gutted missing out on, i was watching a live stream and it looked real fun.
XoKLOWNxKILLAoX's avatar
XoKLOWNxKILLAoX 3 years ago
What needs to be emphasised here is the very (very, very) repetitive gameplay of button mashing in order to hack/slash your enemies into defeat. The various executions are random and you have no control over them (other than to follow button prompts to complete them). The camera angles are glitchy and combat/executions have been obscured numerous times by scenery/foliage filling the screen, added to various glitches where your character becomes "trapped" on scenery - and the only alternative is to reload the last checkpoint... very frustrating! Yes, the scenery and cut scenes are great to look at, but they only serve as a distraction to the repetitive nature of the gameplay. The micro-transactions are just a shortcut to upgrading your skills (if you can't be bothered to play through more than once). There was a need for some new releases at the launch of the Xbox One, and this is one of those titles... I am sure that future releases will improve upon the console's potential, but for now the report would be, "must try harder" - this is no keeper and will be traded-in less than a week after release.

Please describe the nature of the abuse: