Risk of Rain Returns is Remarkable!

A remake of a classic to make it more like its own sequel

Alex Rowe


The title screen for Risk of Rain Returns.
PC screenshot captured by the author.

When you first look at Risk of Rain Returns, you might think “hey this doesn’t look that much different than the original.” That’s what I foolishly thought when I first laid eyes on the game last week. Turns out, this is a wonderful, lavish remake, and it truly does that magical remake thing of presenting this ten year old game as you think you remember it.

I’m not at all a Risk of Rain expert. I had barely encountered the first game many years ago, though it was popular among some of my friends. I spent a little bit of time playing and enjoying the second one when it first launched on Stadia, of all things, and I immediately understood why the franchise was so huge. I resolved in that moment to actually go back and try the first game, which had languished on my Steam wishlist for years at that point. Then I forgot about it.

Well, I’m kind of glad I waited, because this new remake is easily the best way to experience the game. It’s available for fifteen bucks on Switch and PC, and I picked it up over on Steam. It’s still based on the same core rogue-like gameplay foundation as the 2D original Risk of Rain, but the visuals, sound, encounter design, and controls have all been upgraded based on cues taken from the wildly popular sequel. I went back and played some of the original game finally after trying out this new one — and there’s no real reason to do that now outside of nostalgia or curiousity. Retunrs is so much better in every possible way.

Fighting a boss and his friends in Risk of Rain Returns.
Things can get rather hectic, but in a fun way. PC screenshot taken by the author.

The pixel art characters are still often diminutive, necessitating use of a built-in zoom function to properly scale them to current high resolution displays. This fact fooled me into thinking that the improvements to the graphics weren’t that large. Go back and compare the visuals to the original game, however, and you’ll see tons of dramatic improvements here. All of the characters, stages, and enemies have been redrawn. They have a visual aesthetic and level of detail much more in line with the full 3D sequel. Backgrounds have several beautiful layers of parallax, and a more intense…