Its rare to come across a game that leaves me with such polarising feelings about it. It always feels hard to describe a game like Rain World. How do you get the good points across without them being drowned by the negative points?
Rain World is best described as a platformer/survival game, and was released for both the PC and PS4 towards the end of March this year. This review is based on the version currently available on Steam, although I’m unaware of whether or not the console version plays any differently.
Story is a bit bare here, Rain World has chosen to leave what little story there is to be told through the environments. Although its not really much more than the character you play as, a strange creature that seems to be half slug/ half mammal as it tries to survive in the harsh environments and find its family. The story here presents itself bleakly though, as the little creature tries to find enough food to go into hibernation whenever bad rainstorms come in, all the while fighting and/or fleeing from monsters that all want to eat the poor critter.
Graphically speaking Rain World looks quite stunning and beautiful, despite the fact that the world is supposed to be dark and grey. The sprite work is exceptional and its easy to get lost taking it all in, to be quite frank its a real shame the rest of the game doesn’t feel as polished as the looks are. The artists have done a brilliant job here. The player character and all enemies move around very smoothly. It says something when you can make such a bleak world look so pretty honestly.
The OST in Rain World is for the most part forgettable, but I don’t mean it in a bad way, despite what I just said. The tracks all blend perfectly into the background, perhaps too perfectly. When you do notice the sounds you’ll probably think that they fit quite nicely, but most of the time, either because of other frustrations the game might chuck at you or simply because they never feel loud enough, you’d be forgiven for not noticing that they are even there. To better enjoy the soundtrack I’d highly recommend looking it up online and giving it a listen there. Despite how it may seem like I’m tearing into it, I’m not, its just that the soundtrack isn’t given the space it needs to breathe.
Now for the biggest and most important part of Rain World. Gameplay is essentially split into 2 parts here. The first part consists of finding enough food to go into hibernation at the end of each act, the player will need to gather at least pieces of food to survive hibernating, but at least 3 more pieces can be stored as back up. Food comes in many forms such as fruit, flowers, insects and even small creatures like bats. For the most part the food collection potion of the game isn’t too bad, with the rare exception of some maps just seeming to not have easily accessible food supply.
Unfortunately the other half of the gameplay here, which consists of fighting and platforming is hair tearingly annoying at the best of times. No matter how hard or easy a platformer is, people will rarely complain if the controls are solid, because they can learn how to time jumps, or what difference of tactic to apply to get through an area. Unfortunately Rain World’s controls are some of the most painful and random I’ve ever come across. There is no learning or timing your actions here, or so it feels. Each jump, despite being performed the same way always tends to act a bit differently. This made me feel like all my actions were being left to chance. This became especially annoying when it came to segments where not only did I have to deal with platforming, but also escaping from enemies in the area. You can combat the enemies, but I’d recommend avoiding it because the controls are just as flimsy as the platforming, and seeing as most enemies can kill you in one hit, its probably better to just run.
If all the frustrations I had with Rain World could be boiled down to a case of the game being hard, I’d not be complaining, but in a platformer the most important part to get right is the gameplay. Each movement must feel solid, and must play out the same way. The poor effort here really annoys because its frustrating to see such a beautiful game be marred by such ugliness.
There’s beauty to be found here in Rain World, but only for those with the patience and determination to see the whole thing through to the end. Its a real pity if I’m being honest. The developers should be praised for the beautiful graphics and soundtrack (even if it does feel drowned out) and I only wish they had spent more time working on the platforming, that would have made quite the difference for this poor game.
Note: This review was based on a PC digital copy provided by the publisher.