Rain World is astonishingly good-looking and absurdly cruel, a 2D action-platformer that thrills almost as often as it makes you throw down the controller in despair. Almost.
Rain World effectively illustrates the cruel indifference of nature. As a half-rabbit, half-slug creature trying to reunite with its family, you start smack dab in an unfamiliar land with an ecosystem where you’re both predator and prey. Rain is a threat to your survival, but it pales in comparison to the game’s many hunters and, unfortunately, unforgiving environments.
Once you reach a shelter, you’re forced into hibernation, and surviving the long sleep requires consuming a minimum of four food items, be it flies or fruit. A screen’s worth of fruit or flies–assuming there are some available–often provides the food you need but it takes a few hibernation periods to replenish. As a result, you’re often compelled to explore beyond your comfort zone for other food sources.
Comfort is a relative term in Rain World. You can commit a region’s layout and myriad paths to memory, but you’re still vulnerable to many merciless predators. Their locations on the map change every time you emerge from slumber. This typically sustains a moderate level of freshness in each play session, though it’s not uncommon to find yourself in punishing and unfair situations. Some creatures–like the giant vultures–appear with little to no warning. And if your timing is unlucky, a vicious lizard can be waiting for you at the edge of the next screen, leaving you with no opportunity to react, let alone escape. In a game that forces you to mentally juggle numerous variables to survive, these unpreventable deaths can feel exceedingly frustrating.
If you do manage to create distance between you and a lizard, the ensuing chase can be hampered by platforming issues. Rain World‘s tutorial offers minimal instruction and learning how to interact with the environment can be vexing. A seemingly simple act like jumping off a bridge to grab a metal rod jutting from the concrete should be easy. Instead, you’re forced to move with the finesse of a trapeze artist, the feeling of which is at odds with the urgency of escaping a pursuer you have no chance of defeating.
Survival is a layered experience in Rain World, sometimes to the detriment of your enjoyment. Aside from the demands of reaching shelter with enough food in your belly, forward progress is impeded by gates between each region. Passing those gates requires maintaining a positive win-loss record–in other words, your hibernation frequency has to be higher than your death rate; a seeming bizarre and arbitrary requirement. Given all the game’s other demands, this method of proving your worthiness feels harsh and nonsensical in practice. Having to forage and hibernate for the sole purpose of passing a gate feels disrespectful of the player’s time since there are no other rewards for killing and eating.
As a result, there’s a heightened sense of relief in reaching a new region. As you explore each new area, you’re hit with a renewed feeling of resignation and acceptance of the many deaths you’ll soon rack up as you reach dead ends and find the mainline path to the next gate. In an unfair process of trial and error, you make leaps of faith off cliffs to test whether falling beyond the bottom of the screen means your death or the discovery of a new area. And when you find a new gate, the tiresome process of hibernating for the privilege of passing that gate begins anew.
The silver lining of forward progress is that you’re continually treated to the unique and striking visuals of Rain World‘s ruined landscape. The surreal creature designs, combined with the lack of humans makes this world feel both eerily lonely and alien. It carries the same imaginative spirit of games like Bioshock and Abzu, where you’re too preoccupied admiring the artistry to question the logistics of how these man made environments were constructed within the fiction.
Enemies are presented as persistent beings, stalking across multiple areas by using the same entrances and shortcuts as you – except when they teleport across the room through no discernable means. Worse, even the game’s best elements can take their toll. Those procedural animations can become imprecise in action – while being chased by an enemy, I have more than once accidentally climbed into a useless hole – turning myself into a potted treat for a beast – instead of climbing through the escape tube placed directly next to it, simply because of the angle I approached at.
In Rain World, the spectre of failure, often caused by events you can’t control, lingers heavily. It quickly drives home the point that you’re a foreigner in a ruined land where anyone larger than you wants to eat you. Its stunningly detailed backgrounds and few rewarding gameplay opportunities are vastly outweighed by its platforming imperfections and hibernation mechanic, which makes little sense in its connection to accessing new areas. Oftentimes, the frustrations resulting from failure devolve into apathy, which is a wholly unfortunate outcome for a game that gives off a deceptively promising first impression.
Video Game Rain World Review :
User Rating :
– The Good:
+ Imaginative looking environments
+ Rewards adaptation to evolving circumstances
– The Bad:
+ Dying can be unpreventable
+ Poor platforming designs
+ Puzzlingly time consuming hibernation mechanic
+ Ruthless enemies make playthroughs punishing
Mark : 5
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