Ryse: Son of Rome (Review) – Beautiful but tedious

Platforms: Xbox One, Windows
Developer: Crytek
Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Ryse: Son of Rome is a game that I’ve been wanting to play for a while, especially as it’s not just available for Xbox One users (which I bought for PC). As it says in the title, Ryse takes place during Emperor Nero’s reign in Rome with very little historical accuracy because in the game, Nero is an old man and has two sons, whereas he never had any children and he also died at the age of 30. Despite the drastic change, the gripping story never fails to lose your attention. If it weren’t for the decent story, spectacular voice acting and stellar animations, I would have had lost the motivation and stop playing half way through.

Seeing the jaw dropping visuals for the first time is like a child walking into a candy store for the first time, slowly gazing at each and every little detail. The game doesn’t fail to impress you in this regard and it’s the best part about the game, it looks pretty. Although it’s one of the most breathtaking games I have ever seen, visually, the game lacks in other areas.

Ryse Impressive Visuals
A similar smile to mine when I first saw the visuals

Strong start, but quickly becomes tedious

Combat at first felt really strong and polished, especially the quick time events (which are completely optional and always kills the enemy regardless of hitting the right buttons), but once you’ve done the same attacks 50, 100, 150+ times, it becomes dreary and tedious. You just want to get onto the next part and move on with the story. You don’t gain any new moves or abilities, or even weapons that do more damage or armour that protects you from attacks better. It’s all the same from the first level and because of that, it get’s dull rather quickly.

Ryse Execution Ability
Highlighted blue enemies or objects call for you to press the “blue” button (X)

As you slice and dice your way through your enemies, you gain experience points based on how well you time your attacks and how long you can chain your strikes before getting hit or taking too long to connect combos. You can also increase the amount of experience you gain by choosing the ability to gain more exp. But as a result of this, you can’t get the damage bonus, focus bonus (your resource bar to spend on your special ability to slow down time and speed up your strikes) and a health regeneration bonus (known as Perks which you can change at any time). Experience points are spent on skills that are uninteresting and for 90% of them, you see barely any differences even after getting them all. Got to love that 3% experience/focus gain right?! There’s just nothing to look forward to in the game apart from the story, so the combat feels the same at the start and the end, there’s no sense of progression or improvement.

The boss fights are drawn out much too long by only allowing you to hit the boss at certain times and at other times, you’ll find your attacks blocked unless you wait until the moment you can attack. Even though this does happen in other games in a similar way, it’s just too much and the boss fights end being the most boring aspect of the game, especially the final boss encounter where I could have fallen asleep or quit the game in boredom. The fight forces you to take down the boss’s health bar, one strike at a time. It’s a real disappointment.

The game is as linear as one can get and it also isn’t very long at all, with my playthrough being at the 6 hour mark and that’s perfectly fine since you won’t want to spend another hour in gruelling and forced combat, especially the boss battles. The last 30% or so is where just want to skip battles and find out what happens in the next part of the story because you lose a sense of motivation when you’re repeating the same attacks and executions on each and every enemy. Let’s not even get into the fact that there are essentially four types of enemies and they just repeat throughout the game. Once you’ve seen the same barbarian with a sword and shield, you’ve kinda seen them all!

No motivation for multiplayer

After spending 6 hours with Ryse’s dreary combat, multiplayer becomes a great big borefest. You can either go at it solo or fight with another player in different scenarios (which are all the same really) involving fighting off waves of enemies. There’s just no real incentive to do multiplayer even with the supposed item and skill upgrades that you can get. I simply had enough before I even finished the single-player story, so there’s no way I’d put in another few hours to grind out gold to buy gear. Even with the default starter weapon and armour the multiplayer game modes are easy enough to get by. Why would it be more enjoyable steamrolling multiplayer with better items?

Ryse Multiplayer Arena
More barbarian slaughtering which isn’t all that much fun

Is Ryse the game to get?

Let’s be real here. Ryse: Son of Rome is a game that ultimately looks pretty and everything else is an afterthought. Sure it succeeds in providing an immersive experience by leaving you in an ancient era and having you fight as a Roman Centurion, but as I’ve said before, once you’ve played the first couple of hours, you’ve seen it all. There’s nothing new introduced in the last 70% of the game and it suffers because of that. So the game can look as alluring and exceptional as it wants, it doesn’t mask the fact that it’s not particularly fun to play and neither is it something that leaves you with an unforgettable experience.


Score: 65%

What do you think of the game’s lack of depth with combat? Do you feel agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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