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Tequila Works opens up about turbulent development of Rime

Small Spanish studio Tequila Works has opened up about the turbulent development of emotive exploration game Rime. It was a game announced with a bang as a PlayStation 4 exclusive in 2013, but it dropped exclusivity – dropped off the radar – and didn’t materialise until May this year.

“Every project is problematic but you’re right,” Tequila Works co-founder Raul Rubio told me at Gamelab 2017, responding to my remark that development appeared turbulent.

“Originally we wanted to create something very small … a very small indie title. We never expected to be compared to [The Legend of Zelda] Wind Waker, for example, or Ico. We were scared as hell. You are comparing titles with millions in budget to a very tiny game made by 18 people in Spain. It was like, ‘Well we are screwed because we are not going to achieve any of those expectations – there’s no way!’

“That was in 2013,” he said, “and we knew we had to deliver or we were f****d, basically, but how we dealt with that was problematic.”

Tequila Works thought that if people were comparing Rime to Zelda, maybe it should make the game more Zelda-like, so “we had all these complex puzzles and inventory and you had to manage resources”, Rubio said.

“But we always wanted to make you feel like a kid,” he added, “and being a child means you are not worrying about food or shelter, you are relaxed and not aware of the dangers of the world, so we had to get back to and stay true to the original decision.”

Reverting to the original vision took time, though, and the design team wasn’t thrilled. “Imagine in an indie dev studio someone telling a designer that the story is more important than the gameplay mechanics…” Rubio said. “They didn’t take it very kindly.”