Rain World Review: Just Surviving
Greg Johnson / Mar 27th, 2017 No Comments
Players find themselves lost and alone in Rain World, a platforming survival game that has them controlling a strange hybrid slug-cat creature. The littlest slugcat that could is separated from its family, and players must help it hunt prey, avoid predators and, most importantly, avoid the rain.
Rain World is incredibly challenging, but every piece of progress is intensely rewarding as players slowly master the strategic fight-or-flight gameplay.
Down in the Outskirts
Following a hunt, one of a group of slugcats accidentally falls into a ravine and finds itself hopelessly lost in a harsh area full of predators. Luckily, this slugcat is also a predator and, with players’ help, is capable of overcoming platforming challenges to find its way back home.
Along the way, you meet a group of strange one-eyed worm creatures — whenever they pop out, it’s either to indicate a direction to go or to provide control tutorials and gameplay hints. None of these one-eyed worms ever halt gameplay, but are also never introduced in the story. Players must assume they are benevolent inhabitants of the world invested in getting the slugcat home safely.
The quiet ambiance gives Rain World the unique qualities of an animated short film. It tells a lot with no words, and it draws players in at the beginning of the game with beautifully drawn animations that flesh out how slugcat came to be lost.
Following the intro cutscene, there is not a lot in terms of story, at least not a lot explicitly expressed to players. It feels as if there are gaps in the plot that need to be filled, but this never happens. It’s an odd tightrope to walk between showing, not telling and providing necessary background. Instead, you’re left wondering what is happening in Rain World.
Predator or Prey
Knowing when to fight or flee is the most daunting part of Rain World.
Players can pick up a variety of common items, such as rocks or sticks to battle enemies with or use to distract or disable enemies while they make a hasty retreat. It can be a challenge to gauge which enemies are food for the little slugcat — food is needed to keep slugcat alive — and which are hostile predators meant to be avoided.
Rocks can be picked up and thrown to knock an enemy out cold for a chance to run away or a constant bombardment can lead to a swift kill. Using high-ground is the best way to pick off tougher enemies, as often times they cannot reach slugcat due to their own lack of dexterity.
Enemies may be less dexterous than slugcat, but they are more often than not faster on flat ground, meaning players must make use of slugcat’s climbing prowess and jumping to find safe spots.
Speaking of safe spots, as players are exploring the world, they can simply press a button to check their location on the map as well as check on a timer that counts down until it rains. Rain is deadly for slugcat. Once it begins to pour, it will eventually wash away and drown slugcat unless players have found a bunker to stay safe in.
Once discovered, these bunkers are marked with a symbol above their entrance. The symbol is not clearly spelled out, but then not much is in Rain World. Once you enter a bunker, some of the food slugcat has will be drained from your stock and slugcat will be able to hibernate. For gamers, this is essentially saving the game and progressing to the next level in Rain World.
If you do not reach a bunker when it rains, it spells almost certain death, but you will get used to this in Rain World. Death occurs often, and it only heightens the rewarding feeling of successfully finding another bunker.
Gameplay is never unfair as all enemies are well balanced and finding food is never too difficult for players willing to commit to some exploration. As for the rain countdown, it is generous in terms of time and won’t leave players feeling too rushed as they explore Rain World.
The Deep, Dark Jungle
Level design in Rain World is smart, and it is greatly enhanced by the visuals. There’s a sense that Rain World exists in a post-apocalyptic setting. Decaying buildings help set the thematic tone. Yet, the music has an almost hopeful feeling and invigorates players with a sense of adventure.
This dichotomy of gritty visuals and mellow music works well as players fight for survival in Rain World, with the game’s score reaching a fevered pitch once enemies approach. The warning to players of nearby danger is incredibly helpful, as is the visual cue of most dangerous enemies having bright colors contrasted against the darker backdrops.
Each section of the world is designed to fit together but also every area to explore is distinct enough to cue players in on where they are. While exploring the map, landmarks in the background or foreground provide the necessary tools to navigate Rain World.
Rain World is an intensely challenging game that requires a lot of experimentation and patience. While the game has a unique beauty, gameplay is difficult, yet every step forward feels rewarding. A mix of survival and 2.5D platforming elements give Rain World a distinct gameplay experience worth checking out.
Rain World was reviewed on PS4 using a code for the game provided by the publisher.
tags: Adult Swim Games , platformer , Rain World , Rain World Review , review