As far as settings go, the post-apocalyptic world is a really popular one for games. Besides the aesthetic of decay and the chance to avoid having to use so many colors in their design, I imagine game developers like post-apocalyptic settings because they give them a chance to pit the player against a cruel, dangerous world where everyone is fighting for survival. Of course, while we’ve seen dozens of end-of-the-world sims that put you in the shoes of a brave young man or woman, Rain World is the first (and ostensibly only) post-apocalyptic game in which you take on the role of a creature identified as a slugcat.
Rain world opens with a cutscene showing the aforementioned slugcat being separated from its relatives, and then sets you loose in the Rain World. I’ve seen my share of post-apocalyptic worlds, and Rain World does a spectacular job setting its world up. The game has perhaps the best pixel art I’ve ever seen, and it manages to make everything seem like it’s rotting and decaying. There’s a ton of detail that showcases the remains of the Rain World, and you can even see elements in the background painstakingly drawn. Of course, the game also does its best to make you feel overwhelmed. The slugcat is a small creature that pales in comparison to the predators that pop up, and the whole world seems like it’s out to get you.
However, while Rain World manages to create an amazing world, it doesn’t really give you that much direction. Oh sure, it does tell you how to move, how to jump long distances, and how to collect food, but past that it doesn’t give you much guidance. You’re told you need to eat a certain amount of food, and then you’ll be able to go to designated areas and hibernate. Of course, you also need to hibernate when it starts raining, as the rain is ostensibly acidic and dangerous. So the game tells you to stay alive, but past that it doesn’t really give you a specific goal.
What it does give you is a weird, annoying yellow thing that just keeps popping up all over various areas. Sometimes, I could make out that the yellow thing was telling me to go somewhere, others I just couldn’t figure out what the hell it was trying to tell me. Eventually, the yellow thing told me where to go to get to a new area, but it seemed to stop after that. The game does of course have a map feature, but it is quite possibly one of the worst maps I’ve ever seen in a videogame. It’s weirdly 3D, with some areas are shown on top of other ones. Also, you need to scroll through it instead of being able to zoom out, and it’s totally white, with no real color-coding. I pretty much gave up on using it. For bonus marks, you have to hold down the right bumper to use it, instead of being able to just tap a button once. You also need to hold down a button to eat creatures/fruit in the game, so your fingers will get a workout. The good news, however, is that if you’re playing with a NES controller, you won’t have to worry about not having enough buttons.
After long enough, I worked out that I had to survive a few days by collecting food and hibernating, and that allowed me to get to another area and then…well I didn’t really know what I was supposed to do again. This is plenty challenging, as there are predators throughout the game who are pretty clever and fairly eager to make you their meal. Dodging predators was possibly one of the only aspects of the game I liked, but even that can be frustrating as you just pretty much run away from them. The game doesn’t really have any combat or puzzles, so most of it revolves around you trying to get from one area to the other, in search of hibernation pods and food.
The fact that there are tons of areas to explore ends up being an impediment, considering the fact that they mainly act as an obstacle. And trying to get around in the game is its own chore, as the slugcat moves rather awkwardly. Jumping onto ledges can be a tricky, repetitive affair, and climbing can be tricky. This isn’t helped by some awkward level design, which places holes in the wall next to useable tunnels. The game does get kind of fun when you need to climb up various pipes and jump between them, but for the most part the movement can feel too slow. Especially when you’re trying to work out where the hell you are and doubling back onto that area for the fifth time.
The thing is, I kind of found myself pushing through Rain World because whenever a game is hard, I see it as being a challenge I need to overcome. But as I tried to overcome the challenge of Rain World, I realized I wasn’t really enjoying myself. There’s not enough of a sense of objectives and real challenges to face. The game feels like it lacks direction, and it eventually just turns into repetition and frustration. It gives you an amazing world, but that’s about as much as it did for me.
Rain World was reviewed using a PC downloadable code of the game provided by Adult Swim Games. The game was tested on a PC running Windows 10, with an 8GB NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1070 fitted on a 4th Generation Intel i7 4790 3.6Ghz CPU and topped with 16GB of RAM. Rain World is also available on PlayStation 4 in digital release. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• Gorgeous pixel art
• Clever enemy AI
• Lots of different areas to explore
• Lack of a real soundtrack
• Movement tends to feel clumsy
• Game tells you way too little
• Terrible map