ARise game review screenshot

ARise Game Review (ARKit)

ARise is one of the ARKit games that I was looking forward the most. One of the main reasons was because it was developed from the ground up for Apple AR( ARKit).  Today I’ve decided to buy it so I can share my opinion about it with you guys.

What is ARise and How you play it?

ARise is a relaxing augmented reality puzzle game in which you need to escort a knight character through a level packed with optical illusion based puzzles. The knight walks on its own until it reaches a point where he cannot make any progress.

Now, this is where ARKit kicks in to form a unique and unforgettable experience. After you set up the level on a plane surface, you have the option to walk around it and rotate it so you can see it from any direction. The puzzles in this game demand that the player will move around the level and rotate it  in order to be able to align and connect two or more sections. Once aligned, the knight can pass along the road until he reaches another section where your attention is again needed.

ARise game screenshot
Make sure the symbols are complete and aligned to your knight can pass through.

This means that you will continuously position yourself in the right angle to connect those points. The rounded connection points will glow once you made it right. If you lose the alignment during the character’s movement, it will be just pushed back, so you need to hold it right for a certain amount of time and wait until the characters passes that point. Don’t worry about perfect alignments, the ARise is quite forgiving about that. It’s like an aim assist, even if you don’t perfectly align the shapes, it will still count as a match. It’s also not too loose either, just the right amount to keep a good flow and making sure this game can be played with people with disabilities. Also when you play the game for a few minutes, your hands might shake a bit. It happened to me while I was playing with the iPad.

The developer also made sure that once the character is moving, if it’s hidden from your field of view, it will have a ghost projection which let you show yuo where he is at. It’s a nice touch to make you know that the character is still in motion and it’s not stuck somewhere.

Let’s check up some gameplay shall we. This is the first level playthrough. If you don’t want any spoilers, just skip it.

One thing that I found a bit irritating is that sometimes I accidentally tap with the second hand on the screen and the game just cause a fast and uncontrollable rotation that makes me lose the focus where the knight is and I need to rotate it again and find him. Maybe it is better to just disable two hand gestures, just a thought.

ARise AR game, floating island in the living room
The level wasn’t always placed where I wanted it to. Even after a lot of scans of a well-lit area.

It also happened to me that when I moved the camera to a completely different direction, the level just snatched out of place and start floating in another place. I expected this to work flawlessly with ARKit, but it happened only once and I didn’t try to re-create it.

Is ARise a Hard Game?

ARise provides a very relaxing gaming experience and it’s not intense in any way. It doesn’t pose any high difficulty and you can finish the prelude in less than an hour.

That being said, in some levels I was stuck, searching for the right angle and some hidden stones that I needed to align so my knight can pass through. The variety of puzzles are small, but this is the first world, so I expect the developer, Climax Studios, to use different and hopefully more challenging optical illusion puzzles in the next chapters.

It would be nice, like in Conduct AR!, to be able to have tougher challenges as you progress through the levels. The thing is that some people just want to enjoy a single game and once you put them against a tough challenge they just might quit and move on to another game. This can easily happen in mobile apps where the selection of games is really high, so if you feel that you don’t win, you just move on to the next game. On the other hand, some people really enjoy playing brain-teasing puzzles game, so I think that Climax Studios should settle on something in the middle, not too hard, but with small gradual increased difficulty.

By the way, if you get stuck, the game does have an help icon to help guide players via visual cues if they need to. This option was added in Version 1.2, alongside other improvements.

Graphics & Immersion

This is probably one of the things that attracted me the most. The level design in this game is amazing. This is really important for AR games because after all, this is what you get to see alongside the real world camera feed that surrounds it.

I was really amazed by Conduct AR! level design and ARise follows the same path with detailed visuals, vibrant yet calming color palette, and a clever use of elevation to make the puzzles more tricky and satisfying to solve at the same time.

ARise level viewed from different perspectives
You can view the level from almost any angle. The puzzle-solving experience was built around that gameplay mechanic.

The level is built like a floaty island that sits on top of the surface you spawn it on and it’s just beautiful to behold. It’s even more enjoyable to view once you start rotating it and view it from different perspectives like from the top for example. This is exactly what I love about Augmented Reality and what immersion in AR is all about. It’s the ability to physically observe and interact with the scene from different angles and it works so magnificently for this type of game and was done considerably well in this particular game.

In some puzzles, I needed to get really close to where the knight is, I mean really close. My iPad camera was about to touch the knight itself. Maybe there was a better angle to solve that puzzle, but it was really fun to do it like that. It was also great to be able to just move your iPhone or iPad towards the center part of the structure and watch the main character and all the other objects in the scene up close. Again, this is what AR is all about and ARise really nailed it in that aspect.

After you finish a level, you can watch the level morphed into a big giant creature, like a Transformer and I took my time to back up a bit so I can watch it all happen, it was a beautiful moment.

What about the Music?

The game features atmospheric/ambient background music and nice sound effects. For example, in one of the levels, you can hear the waterfall in the background. The music was designed to give you a relaxing gameplay experience and it does that really well.
I honestly think that the music is very important for this type of games where you need to stop and think. It doesn’t distract you, but actually the opposite, it allows you to concentrate.

It also very important to keep the player immersed in the game. I think that the best way to experience this game is by using a headset and turning the volume up.

Replayability & Game Length

Let’s say it like that. There is no reason for me to replay the same level that I’ve already finished. If the game had procedurally generated levels this was a completely different story, but it does not. If you play the level you already know how to solve its puzzles and the only challenge you get is by moving on to the next levels and chapters and try to solve those new puzzles.

As of the time of writing, there is only one chapter (“Chapter 1”) but the developer mentioned that more worlds are coming soon. I do hope that it happens quickly because I just can’t wait to try out the next chapter, I’m sure it’s going to be awesome!

Regarding the game length, I’ve already said that it took me less than an hour to complete, and I was also recording some gameplay footage and doing some other stuff. So the answer is that the base game is very short. That being said, we can’t expect new chapters pretty soon I hope and the experience itself is really worth it.

It took me many years to find out that the sometimes the amount of content isn’t everything, the game needs to be fun and memorable. There are many games that I’ve played like “The Last of Us”, which I finished after a few hours, but I will never forget them and how much I enjoyed playing them. I paid a premium price for those games. ARise on the other hand doesn’t cost like a triple-A title, and I think it’s one of the best ARKit titles out there that really demonstrate what’s immersion in AR is all about. This why it is a must-have game for iOS in my opinion. If you own an ARKit-powered device, you ought to try it out.

Should I play it on the iPad or iPhone?

I played and reviewed the game based on my experience playing it on my iPad 9.7-inch 2017 model. In my opinion, the iPad’s large display makes all the difference in the world. I just can’t imagine being able to enjoy the same experience while looking from a very small screen. Even the sense of scale doesn’t transfer well on a small screen. Again, once I played it on the iPhone I can share my experience. So sorry that I can’t give you a straight answer for that. You can ask this in the comment section below and hopefully, someone who read this review or your comment can give you a better answer.

Should You Buy ARise?

Simple answer, Yes! (but only if you own an ARKit enabled device). From all the games that I reviewed until this day, ARise is the game that I enjoyed playing the most. Not every game that is ported or played in Augmented Reality means that it will be more fun to play compared to playing it on a regular display.

The fun in AR rises when the developer understands how to take advantage of the technology to create fun and immersive experiences that people will enjoy playing. It’s a short but a very gratifying experience in my opinion. All that I can hope is that we get to have more chapters without waiting a lot—Highly Recommended++.