A nomadic slugcat slides and scurries across the destroyed landscape, surviving anyway he can. Sometimes he finds some food, sometimes he faces down deadly enemies, but other times he just has to run. Because the rains are coming, and when they do, everything that isn’t tied down will be washed away.
Rain World is a game about survival in a brutal ecosystem where you continually find yourself at the bottom of the food chain. In an attempt to survive, you must find food and make it to a safe place to hibernate. By failing to do so, you will perish in the unforgiving conditions of the post-apocalyptic world you live in.
Glorious Pixel Art
The dismal scenes and quirky inhabitants of Rain World are beautifully animated, with an odd sense of fluidity about them. The main character is a wriggly little guy who can jump around and launch himself into tight spaces, all in the name of exploration. The backgrounds are mostly static but shine against the lighting design and the incredible movements of the characters in the foreground. As a little guy against big monsters, you are pretty much defenseless on your own.
You can eat bats and bug-like creatures, but if you see anything with big teeth you’ll probably have to run. With sticks and stones littered on the ground you can try taking them on in a David vs Goliath situation, just don’t expect to win.
Surviving the Platformer
At its core Rain World is a platformer with some tricky controls and a branch of systems that don’t totally explain themselves. There’s a tiny bit of hand holding at the start, but after that you will have to rely on repetition and initiative to progress throughout the world. Bright yellow spores follow you around from level to level, sometimes offering cryptic hints and help but you can’t rely on them too much.
The controls are a little hard to get used to, as moving your guy around feels cumbersome and slow. He’s no Mario, even though he has many animations and manoeuvres, none of them feel satisfying to pull off. To do a long jump you must lie on your belly and sort of just leap. Half of the time you won’t make it, and if you do you’re still looking towards the goal of not dying.
Time marches on
After finding sufficient food you can go find a hibernation spot, but they can be far apart from each other. If you take too long, the rains will start to come down hard on your slugcat. It took me a couple times to realize what was happening when I would die in a cold dark space, but the rain was flooding the tunnels to the point where I started to drown.
Everything is trying to kill you, even the weather. If you’re successful in living another day, you’ll receive a new karma ranking which can be used to access new areas. The downside to some of these rankings is that you’ll have less time to explore the world before you get hit by the rains, and then you’ll go down a ranking. It’s frustrating, but it tries to teach you lessons about your actions organically as opposed to telling you “hey, don’t go in here”.
Unique, New York
It’s an interesting concept because it does genuinely make you feel small and weak, in an uncomfortable way. Some of the enemies are so interesting and enthralling, and while you can distract them or occasionally kill them with an accurate throwing spear, you’re never in a place where you feel like you’re at the top of the food chain.
The survival systems of the game are great, limiting resources and randomising enemies, and as awkward as moving around feels to begin with, you find a rhythm to slipping in and out of the tunnels with ease. The aim of the developer was to create the momentum of a rat running through the Manhattan subway system, which I think they have done successfully.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Rain World was provided by Sandbox Strat.