One of the best parts of the Indie scene has been the variety of titles being released, and Adult Swim Games has certainly been publishing some great titles. With Rain World by Videocult, we have a great looking game that unfortunately falls into a trap just like our slugcat friend.
The story of the game is that you play as a slugcat who is trying to live with their family. While exploring one day, you are lost in an unknown area and forced to fend for yourself to find your family. Fans of 2D adventures like Out of This World or Oddworld will feel welcomed by the game’s puzzle and platforming design. The game takes place in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic world with ruined structures all over the place.
Your main goal is to survive each day or cycle, and eat enough food that you can hibernate when the rain comes. Enemies in Rain World can all kill you in one hit; requiring you to keep out of sight to stay alive.
Your slugcat is not defenseless, and can pick up items to use or throw at the enemies. Unlike other games, the enemies of this world can follow you and are not limited by the constraints of a room. Rain will occur regularly and kill you if you’re not in a hibernation area. To hibernate, you need make sure that you’ve eaten enough food before hand, or you’ll starve instead of saving your game.
The idea of surviving against the elements and the wild is a great hook for a game, but this game’s design just doesn’t come together.
There are two main issues with Rain World’s design that we need to talk about. The first is how progression works and new areas become unlocked. You have a Karma meter at the bottom left that grows as you survive and perform other tasks. When the Karma fills up, you advance one point or cycle in the game.
The cycle that you’re on determines what doors in the world are open which lead to new areas. The catch is that each time you die you get sent back one cycle and returned to the last place you hibernate. Get careless and you can lose a lot of progress in the game. There is an item that you can eat that prevents you from losing progress, but this takes me to the other problem.
Rain World is a classic example of a game that obscures its mechanics too much. The game doesn't train the player on what’s going on or even what the point of the game is. Rules for how the world works, the progression model and more are never told to the player.
Compounding matters is that it can be difficult to maneuver your slugcat around the narrow tunnels and gaps. It’s very easy to miss a vine or enter the wrong gap and get killed by the many things out to get you.
Rain World in its current form is just too frustrating for my preference. Even challenging games like the Soulsborne series throws the player a bone in some way, shape or form. Rain World is just brutal difficulty on top of obscure mechanics and rules, and that’s not a good combination for me personally. For more on the game, you can watch my spotlight of me dying for an hour.