You would be forgiven if you looked at Rain World and expected a cutesy adventure starring a wide-eyed fuzzy creature. After all it appears that's what Videocult and [adult swim games] wants you to believe before you dive in. As soon as you start your adventure you'll quickly realize that the term "easy" is nonexistent in the realm of the Slugcat. In fact you'll rue the day you were conned by such an adorable creature once you dig deeper into its dark and mysterious world.
Rain World has you take control of a Slugcat, whose back story is revealed here and there throughout the game's run time. Climbing high areas, collecting fruits and bats to eat, and avoiding the massive and intimidating creatures throughout the worlds will lead you to new discoveries and open your eyes to what has happened in this strange dystopian future. You must find enough food and get to a safe zone before the rains fall hard, resulting in both death and having to start at the beginning of the day.
Outside of your map (which reveals everything you've discovered thus far), there is nothing to guide you to your next destination. At times you'll find a weird yellow creature that's blasting a hologram of what you should do next, but often you'll probably scratch your head over what it's trying to say. In many cases there will be areas that won't be open until you reach a certain level of karma points, which are gained by surviving a day cycle and lost when you die. And trust me: you'll be losing those karma points more often than you'll gain them.
The difficulty in Rain World is astounding, with there almost always being a challenge wherever Slugcat plants its paws. Kimono dragon-like monsters and hidden creatures are just about around every corner waiting for you to become their next meal, with one-hit-kills being the usual fare if you find yourself in its vicinity. You can defend yourself by throwing nearby rocks and spears, but one has to be careful with how you aim. What's more: the enemy creatures will learn from your actions placed upon them.
One of the most impressive aspects of Videocult's debut title is how much intelligence can be placed within an enemy. Fight a creature, and it may run in the opposite direction if it finds itself in your vicinity. However some of them will be frustrated with your attacks, resulting in their aggressive nature accelerating to bloodthirsty levels. These will be the moments where you'll want to hightail out of an area as fast as possible, or face being torn to shreds.
Again, this goes back to the high range of difficulty Rain World showcases. Due to the lack of checkpoints and save areas, death will result in having you start at the beginning of the day and your karma levels being drained by one. This will result in you having to scavenge food and heading back to a hibernation area, meaning a lot of running back and forth until your karma reaches the respective level to move to the next vicinity. I won't lie: it felt like a chore in many cases rather than a good time.
It also doesn't help that the controls aren't as reliable as they could be. Playing on the PlayStation 4 the movements of the Slugcat can often cause another level of frustration. Attempting to grab ledges, pipes, and enter a respective traveling tunnel will often result in your creature entering the wrong areas, slipping on the grab, and -- sometimes -- an impending death. I can't remember how long it took before I got used to the controls, but it was probably around the seven-hour mark in my play-through when I finally got a handle of things. (And no, I wasn't even near the end of the game at that point.)
Once you do finally figure out how to maneuver your way through Rain World, that's when you can take advantage of your surroundings. There are quite a few surprises you'll discover with some trial-and-error, some of which will be useful in the long run. For example I mistakenly grabbed one of the flying blue beetle-like creatures, which gave me the ability to make larger leaps. This came in handy for those hard-to-reach tunnels, thereby opening up my vicinity to larger worlds and new discoveries.
Perhaps it was the visual beauty this game presented that kept me going all throughout my playtime. Often I marveled at the level of detail presented in this dark and apocalyptic world the Slugcat roamed, with even some of the more vicious creatures getting a wondrous "ooo" escaping from my lips. Also enticing was its soundtrack, which often fit the gloomy yet mesmerizing mood that was filled all throughout this survival adventure.
In regards to how long it'll take to reach all the areas of Rain World, it'll depend on your skills in the Metroidvania subgenre. Players who have mastered this style of gameplay will probably find themselves beating the game in 10-12 hours. However those who are like me and often get frustrated with these sorts of titles may not be able to reach the end for about 20-25 hours. Even still there are multiple endings to uncover in this game, so completionists may be looking at four times the amount of hours clocked in order to clear it all.
Currently missing in this build of Rain World is the multiplayer aspect, where up to four players can face off for the title of Slugcat Maximus. While I cannot comment on the final build as of this moment, I can say that past demo experiences have shown a lot of potential of it being a very fun add-on for players to enjoy. With that being said, I look forward to seeing what will be in store for my friends later on when it's finally released to the masses.
- Vast realms of exploration
- Beautiful worlds, soundtrack
- Challenging from start-to-finish...
- ...but can get very frustrating
- Controls takes some getting used to
- Repeating areas can get tiresome
Rain World may look innocent enough at first, but it quickly bites back on its players with its sheer difficulty. For those looking for one massive challenge after another, Videocult's Slugcat adventure will certainly suit you fine. However gamers that find themselves wanting something more casual would be best to avoid playing in feat of smashing their TVs. At any rate Rain World is definitely something players should behold at least once, at least to experience its pixelated beauty.
Promotional consideration provided by Evolve PR. Reviewed on the PS4. Kickstarter backed by reviewer.
Background Noise: > album title goes here < by deadmau5 - Joel Zimmerman's 2012 album was a tad bit darker than his 2010 release 4X4=12, which certainly helped to put me in the right state of mind when writing about Slugcats and brutal deaths. The electronica sounds blaring through "Take care of the proper paperwork" often had me thinking of the tougher battles when facing the tougher monsters, whereas "Fn Pig" reminded me of the sheer beauty and mystery that was presented all throughout each area of the game.