A depressing post-apocalyptic environment, predators around every corner, food scarcity and everything is out to kill you, even the weather. This is Rain World, a 2D single player Survival Puzzle Platformer with a much heavier emphasis on survival than anything else and a very pleasant soundtrack that makes you feel alone in this world. Made by Videocult and published by Adult Swim Games. Rain World promises an unforgettable experience that will make one’s butt clench in the direst of situations. Followed by a very high chance of feeling an unbearable frustration, that more than makes up for it with its vast open world that one can spend hours upon hours exploring. Heck, even I haven’t finished the game yet after about 20 hours of playtime, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.
Rain World puts you in control of a strange young creature known as a Slugcat who was just recently torn from its family during a storm. After a cutscene that displays this heartbreaking separation, you are immediately given control and greeted by a strange wisp who serves as your temporary guide as well as your mini tutorial. The tutorial in question isn’t particularly hard or even that long since it takes two minutes at most to run you through the basic controls and necessities of the game, which is nice.
In the beginning, it’s painfully obvious you are slow and undeniably weak with the exception of a throwing arm that rivals today’s best baseball pitchers and a ragdoll-like wobble that’s just too adorable. Although your golden shimmering friend teaches you the basics of what you need to know such as the useful long jump, you can go deeper into the mechanics and learn little techniques that, as far as I am aware, the game doesn’t teach you. After spending a good minute or two playing around with Slugcat, I was genuinely surprised it had a few tricks up its sleeves such as the backflip or the slide and the incredible roll jump. Of course, I was excited to have learned some new tricks on my own, but this was a strong indication that the Rain World does not hold your hand at all throughout the whole game. I for one enjoy being left alone to explore and while this can serve as a definite selling point, it’s also the downfall of Rain World for many and can turn off a lot of new players because they don’t know where to go or what to do.
As we follow the vague guidance of our mysterious wisp, who has no obvious name or reason for helping us, we can learn that this world has a strange day and night cycle but with a twist that makes this a ‘rain world.’ Every day is limited in time, which requires you to find shelter because when the night does come, it brings with it a deadly rain that will definitely crush you under its pressure. As we seek shelter and sleep, it’s time to dive into another core mechanic of the game commonly known as Karma among the community that you gain from hibernation and lose from dying. Here’s where my love of the game begins to wane a bit as Karma not only determines whether or not you can enter another region but also how long you’re going to have to grind Karma in one region, which can grow complicated when there’s a scarcity of food. This creates almost an artificial difficulty that I do not like because it feels like a cheap tactic to prolong the game and ultimately waste your time, especially when you can die from the game’s randomly generated predator behavior and positioning. Sure, this is softly remedied by what I call a soul flower, which protects your Karma from going down just once, but even then, I find myself losing that protection often and getting very impatient.
After our tutorial and we exit our shelter for the first time, and left to freely explore the world around us however we want as long as we manage to keep a steady supply of food in our bellies and a careful look out for shelters. Rain World gifts us with an ironically beautiful post-apocalyptic world that is filled to the brim with untold dangers. A lot of the platforming is especially crafty, fine-tuned to test your patience with Slugcat’s controls. The entire beginning region of the game is quite fun to explore for the first time while giving you time to master the finicky physics like Slugcat’s long jump. As you explore, you will even discover remnants of civilization such as old man made structures or graffiti along the background walls. It leaves the mind to wonder what happened to this world before you came upon it making this easily the best part of exploring Rain World and its environments.
Rain World offers a myriad of predators like vultures, flora, and mysterious beasts that will test your quick decision making and reflexes. This requires players to have at least mastered the controls early on in the game to even hope of just barely scraping by the predators that are to come. The game demands you approach any strange flora or new creature with the utmost caution. It’s through paying close attention to your environment that you will often notice shortcuts or traps or even possible food that you could eat (I kicked myself upon learning from a friend of mine that the jellyfish I was avoiding out of fear, were edible). Though this can be very fun to experiment with, because the game has you on a time limit, you are not able to enjoy the world’s fruits for too long without risk of dying to the rain, which heavily contradicts the mindset of experimentation the game wants you to have.
Behind all of the neat mechanics and amazing predators, however, are glaring issues with the game that are simply impossible to ignore. One of the most prominent issues lies in the randomized placement of predators which can lead to very unfair deaths at times, like when you transition to another area only to get chomped on immediately because a predator was waiting directly on the other side of the tunnel entrance. Especially with Slugcat’s janky controls, it’s near impossible to react in time, making it very unfair. Though at first the janky wobble of Slugcat may be adorable and lovable, it’s in the later moments of the game where this adorable factor turns into a liability more than anything. Slugcat’s ragdoll physics also tend to get in the way of platforming, such as when there is a gap that requires a near perfect long jump. If you try crouching too close to the edge, Slugcat will simply flop off the ledge and plummet down wherever gravity takes him. As funny or cute as it may be the first couple of times, it can become very cumbersome when you just want to progress with a cycle that has little time left in it or being chased by a hungry lizard.
Coupled with these platforming issues are the bugs and glitches that follow suit. During my playthrough of Rain World, I encountered some glitches that, though not game breaking, hindered my run and ultimately drove my opinion on the game. One such bug occurred when I tried to transition over to a new room while trying to carry around a giant fly. The fly got stuck in a corner, glitching out sporadically, and I was left staring at my screen, watching as the cycle slowly came to an end and the rain finally killed the bug. Once the bug was dead, I was finally able to transition to the next screen, but it was already too late, and the rain crushed me too within the next room. The bugs and crashes of the game are very unpredictable and have yet to be patched as of this writing. Sure, one can have an incredible run in Rain World, avoiding the death lurking around every corner, but these bugs can ruin your game and turn it into a painful grind all over again when your game crashes upon resting in a shelter, causing you struggle from one region to the next.
Despite how difficult and unforgiving of a game Rain World may be, I still love it all the same. Rain World has earned a place in my heart even though it can be very abusive and unfair. What holds this game up for me is the triumphant feeling I get when I finally pass a nearly impossible obstacle or just the fresh feeling of exploring this game’s beautiful open world. However, there is no way to justify how stressful it can become especially with its bugs and broken enemy placement. This game demands an outstanding amount of patience – after about 18 hours of playtime, I’m willing to admit more than half of my deaths are because of my stubbornness and recklessness – while also requiring you throw caution to the wind at times just to experiment. It’s through experimentation that you discover what you can or can’t do and this is very vital to learning your limits.
For a $20 price, this game offers about 80+ hours of playtime, which only further emphasizes how massive in scale this game is, though this can also be seen as a bad thing by players who don’t have much time on their hands. If you feel you have the patience to brave through this game’s insane difficulty and are willing to play a game of high risk, little reward, I say go for it; you’ll have a fantastic time. But if you’re one who is prone to snapping your controller in half, Rain World might not be for you.
Last modified: April 11, 2017