When I received the press release for A Rite from the Stars I have to admit my surprise. The last time I saw the game was during Risin’ Goat’s crowdfunding campaign for the title in 2014, before it disappeared from my radar after the successful completion of the campaign. It’s taken close to four years since the launch of the Kickstarter campaign to play A Rite from the Stars, now published by Phoenix Online Studios. Was it worth the way? Let’s see!
A Rite from the Stars puts you in control of Kirm, a young boy about to go through his rite of passing into manhood with his companion, a very literal guiding star, plucked from the firmament and to help you overcome the trials the tribal elders place in front of you: Courage, Wisdom and Spirit—I almost wanted the last one to be Power for the Triforce Trifecta.
- Beautiful Look: A Rite from the Stars takes place exclusively at night in the island our protagonist and his star guide live in, but it’s a vibrant place full of colour that doesn’t just bring the place to life but also serve as clever colour codes for some of the puzzles, specifically the balloon fruits in the Trial of Courage.
- Three Trials, Three Styles: A Rite from the Stars is an adventure game with plenty of puzzles but the three trials offer wildly different styles with one offering mazes and logical patterns, another on timing (trial of spirit or the acid trip as I call it) and the other on controlling two characters at the same time. Each trial is unique, with its own moments of joy and frustration alike.
- Music to my Ears: I love the use of the Makoan language throughout the game, it spoke to me of the dedication and love the developers had for the game while at the same time it enhanced the experience, immersed me deeper in it, as I realised this could very well be a rite of passage that takes place somewhere in the world, either now or in the past. It also helps I have a fascination with languages, and the realisation that it’s a real language made this all the more interesting!
- Charming Style: Characters in A Rite for the Stars are big as life, at least their masks are. I love the character design that makes their leafy masks have greater proportions than the rest of their bodies, it drives the point that their masks are a big part of their identity. And with no one is this clearer than with the protagonist, his masked head larger than anything else, he’s almost a head with arms and legs. It’s charming if not a bit unnerving on a first glance.
- Outstaying their Welcome: Challenges the character faces have an independent set of mechanics and puzzles and too many times are those elements use to the point of tedium or frustration. The Trial of Courage is by far the worst in this aspect, forcing you through a timing mini-game with a monkey well past the point where it stops being fun, funny or entertaining.
- Lakitu’s Drunk: Whichever star or character is involved in camera work, it’s time to fire them. The camera often fails to move to where it’s supposed to between cutscenes, locked in place until you reset the game.
- Underwhelming Narrative: As much as I like the style and the simple yet compelling story of this young man reaching adulthood, the characters are predictable and two-dimensional and their respective endings are abrupt, predictable and thoroughly underwhelming.
- My Kingdom for some Context! A Rite from the Stars has some very creative and engaging puzzles but many times the designers fail to give you enough context to reach the solution logically, forcing you down a tedious trial and error path that sucks the fun out of the puzzling. The Trial of Spirit is a prime example, with its maze-like section where the hints are too obtuse to make sense of to reach the end.