Riley and Rochelle It represents the culmination of a concept that Sheinman Games has been working on for three years. A period of recent music history is chosen, bands and singers are created, songs are written and performed, and then your task as a musician is to piece together the scattered information in some sort of arrangement. It’s logic puzzles, but with a soundtrack.
Coordination started with 2020 family, where you are tasked with forming a “family tree” for the band members and the various groups and careers they pursued during the 1980s London music scene. It came only two months later rivals, between 1995 and 2010, this time exploring American country music. Both games contained songs written and performed by developer Tim Scheinman, and showed a deep love for each of the diverse musical scenes. After switching to US politics in 2021 Conspiracy! (Although it still follows the same puzzle-solving format), 2022 presents us Riley and Rochelleback in the ’90s, but this time in the realm of cheesy pop and superstardom.
Riley Stone is a good looking guy from DetroitWhich quickly (maybe very quickly) makes him big on the American pop scene with some classic pop music from the ’90s. Growing up on the Canadian pageant scene, Rochelle Robert dominated her story-singing, until a scary prairie picked her up and introduced her to America. Both have become hugely popular, and as the game begins, you can explore their completely separate functions by trying to provide the exact history of a pile of diary entries separate from both.
This is accomplished by reading the entries, then researching the other materials available for each of the game’s eight chapters. These could be gig flyers, recordings of radio interviews, live talk shows, or even a menu. Each is full of clues that indicate a time, which when put together (sometimes requiring some real-world searching as well) will allow you to determine the exact date of the entry. Set everything right for this chapter and the story progresses.
All clips for radio programs, video events, DVD commentaries, etc. are recorded, with the actors performing and singing. And every major song mentioned in the game is available to listen to at any time, not just from Riley and Rochelle, but to some other occasional artist. You listen or read, insert important details, then you Google when the 1997 Oscars took place, you go back to Rochelle’s birthday you learned earlier, you know this meeting must have taken place in March, and then you put that together with Information that was Monday, and in the end you have that date.
with Riley and Rochelle, Scheinman (and the growing team around him), I believe, have reached the pinnacle of the concept. If you play along with his games, as I have, there is definitely some sense of repetition here, and a desire to see a new set of ideas. However, if you haven’t (and let’s be rational, it didn’t have much success, you probably didn’t), then research and development It is the best place to discover this great idea. It’s definitely the most accessible in terms of the music scene it covers, even if it’s not the kind that I would personally choose to listen to.
That being said, as the game progresses towards the end of the ’90s, it’s clear that both Stone and Robert are getting tired of the biggest market, and are starting to get swayed by Portishead, Massive Attack, and Radiohead. This has interesting implications for the story, but also makes the music more palatable to my ears. And it really illustrates Sheinman’s impressive range when it comes to songwriting. That he was able to put together a cliched song that sounded like a reasonable contender for an Oscar nomination in the ’90s, and indeed, the third album’s challenging and fun tones to a disappointing single, is really a testament to his impressive talent.
The user interface is not as great as I would like. Previous games didn’t quite shine when it came to presentation, but I found it Riley and RochelleVery little lo-fi. The art is beautiful, but crucial items such as piles of diaries look really bad. Where a zen scene rendering previously made sense given the subject matter, here it seems a little too much. It’s good, it does the job, but I’d really like to see something more detailed.
But the important thing is the overall impact of this, and the mysteries of the previous music scene, on me: to make me feel that these people were real, that their musical history actually happened. It works perfectly here, both artists – although based on industry clichés – feel quite embodiment and realism. This is greatly helped by the beautiful details about Rochelle’s mother, their home life, and the human moments they glimpse in their diaries, as opposed to the general presentation in the materials found.
I’ve come away with such depth of knowledge about some totally fictional musicians, having heard a lot of their music, heard clips from the films they’ve appeared in, and been given a behind-the-scenes perspective on their lives. I love that. That’s what makes these games so special, even when the puzzle is particularly cliched (“Helena went with me for coffee today. She wouldn’t meet me yesterday, unfortunately, she said. I thought it was only Fridays.”), it’s still totally forgivable. Because it lets you hear more of the tale, and learn more about the history of this fantasy music.
I really hope Sheinman does something very different in his next game, because I really think that format is done now. But Riley and Rochelle is a great, albeit sometimes imprecise, way of demonstrating the powerful idea that has always been.