Rain World is a game that conveys a very astute sense of cumbersome loneliness. At the start you’re alone and need to make it back to your family; that’s all the game gives to set you on your path. The rest of the adventure and how you approach it is entirely up to you.
In the game you play as an animal called a Slug Cat: you’re at the bottom of the food chain and the only food that you can eat and creatures you can fight are small bugs and plants. Rain World is littered with life from giant arachnids all the way down to lizards. Everything in this game is out to kill you and take you home for dinner, until you can learn to survive it.
What the game does very well is portray a sense of dread and urgency straight from the beginning and doesn’t loosen its grip at all throughout. It gives you little to no instruction and expects you to adventure and find where to go next on your own, kind of. There’s a little yellow guy that pops up and points to places where you should go, but he’s just kind of there as he helps you throughout your adventure.
The game is developed by Videocult and published by Adult Swim games. The two creative studios set out to make a punishing and brutal game, and with Rain World they succeeded with their intent; the game is grueling to push through.
The game suffers from something I like to call artificial difficulty, in that it sets you up in this world to fail from the very beginning. There is no clear intention of letting you live and succeed at all. Many might draw comparisons to Dark Souls or Bloodborne, but those games are at the least fair. Rain World isn’t fair in the slightest. The controls are wonky and slow to respond. The Slug Cat, while cute, is
so physically opposed to doing what you want. While you’re walking through the environment he will slip himself into a hole and get stuck, or his gelatinous sock shaped body will flop around the screen, missing pipes you’re supposed to grab for survival. This game tries too hard to distance itself from mainstream gaming conventions that it just comes across as full of itself and gratuitously difficult.
Rain World is a gorgeous game, I’ll give it that. The pixel art is something to behold and each screen is beautifully hand crafted. Everything in the game oozes style. The world is set in the not so distant future and all the buildings are dilapidated. Plants have taken over and animals have made these iron fortresses their home. The people at Videocult really have a knack at making the environments feel alive.
Throughout it you can see the hard work that the team put in. From the weird physics engine to the character designs, and all the way to the pixel art, the game comes across as a labor of love. But somewhere it lost touch and decided to focus more on aesthetic than on the actual game design and gameplay. The game gives me a sense of defeat because there’s such a beautiful and fun world that has been held down with the cumbersome controls and overbearing difficulty. Rain World is a game that will end up breaking you emotionally, not because the main character is cute and dies every five seconds, but because game forces you to submit to its rules without any form of consent.
This review is based on a Steam code sent to SideQuesting by the publisher