Survival games are not in short supply, so there is going to be some stiff competition when it comes to making your game stand out from the crowd. But when your game stars a cat slug journeying through a flooded wasteland trying to survive against the starving inhabitants of the world, that isn’t much of an issue. Rain World brings a cute twist to the survival genre that’s for sure! The question then becomes: is it fun enough to boot?
Rain World follows the story of a cat-like slug, which lost its way in a desolate world. Your goal is to survive, which will be a bit of a challenge since there are many things that could quickly end your life. You will need food in order to hibernate, shelter to protect yourself from the rain, and weapons to fend off against the many hungry creatures roaming the world. You have four different slug creatures to start your adventure as, each with their own abilities and quirks. You will need to capitalize on those unique skills if you hope to survive.
From the moment you start up the game you will know no safety. The game does everything in its power to make you feel as unsafe and nervous as possible. From the bleak atmosphere to the awkward gameplay, the game does an amazing job at conveying the hopeless situation your character has been placed in. The controls do take some getting used to as your characters have weight to them, making traversal and avoiding enemies more of a challenge than expected. On top of that you have to gather enough food in order to survive the next round of rain – so there’s always a pressure to keep trucking along as quickly as possible.
The game has an interesting pixel art style that translates the bleak atmosphere well. The animations are very fluid, which can get rather unnerving at times when you have a weird lizard monster slithering his way towards you. The creatures and environments have a surprising amount of detail to them, which kept me invested in the world.
Musically the game is a mixed bag. At times it fits the mood of the somber environments and mysterious locales, but it fails to mix it up and change pace when you encounter enemy creatures. There’s no real sense of panic in the soundtrack, which is a missed opportunity.
While Rain World does a great job with its world building and oozes atmosphere, the gameplay leaves a bit to be desired. That’s because it doesn’t do a great job of explaining things. Sure, there’s a tutorial present, but it leaves out key details that are necessary to proceed. For example, there is a Karma Meter that it does very little to explain. It turns out you need to build it up in order to progress further into the game – the meter rises if you survive a night and lowers if you die. Speaking of dying, when that happens (and it will) a flower appears in the spot where you perished. Turns out if you make it back to that spot you can eat it and that will help protect your karma level. That would have been nice to know. Thanks game! Don’t get me wrong, experimenting and figuring things out on my own are sometimes great things in games, but when they’re essential to progress they should be in the tutorial.
One of the big issues with the game is how unforgiving deaths can be. If you die in the game you won’t just be sent back to the last checkpoint you made. Rather, you get sent back one checkpoint behind that one and lose any of the progress you made during your last round. This makes Rain World a lot more tedious than it needs to be, especially when your controls are awkward and everything in the world is out to get you. There are several manipulations you can find in the game that can give you the advantage, such as making creatures fight each other or finding a flower that can slow time. Still, these small assists don’t make dying any less punishing.
Despite those qualms, the game does have a great sense of replayability. The four different characters you can choose from all play very differently, and adapting their play style to the hostile world makes each playthrough feel unique. There’s also a multiplayer mode where you can fight against friends in small arenas. This feels a bit tacked on and I’d have preferred a full-blown co-op mode instead. That being so, Rain World still delivered a unique and entertaining experience despite some harsh challenges.
Final Thoughts: GOOD
Rain World is one part cute, one part creepy, and another part frustrating survival game. The controls are not easy to master, and some will no doubt find the punishment of death in this game unforgiving. Still, those that like a challenge are sure to find something to like!
Jordan is a gaming fanatic who grew up in a home of shovelware. Years of discounted drivel has molded this man, shaping him into the seeker of quality he is today.