Rain World is the kind of game that will grab your attention based on any single screenshot or gif that passes your gaze. It's an incredibly unique and beautifully detailed game that puts you in the shoes (slug feet?) of a undeniably adorable character named Slugcat.
Does this brutally difficult and punishing metroidvania offer enough incentive to push through, or is the price not worth the pain? We're here to find out!
A Lone Slugcat, Lost in This Terrifying World
The opening of Rain World is a beautiful artistic slideshow that shows a den of Slugcats and a calamity that sends you away from your family and friends. You wake up lost and alone.
Beyond this premise, Rain World doesn't offer too much more in the realm of story. You do get some insight from a holographic yellow worm-like character who offers hints and some basic tutorials, but beyond displaying some images here and there, he's a quiet guide.
Without saying a single word, though, Rain World does manage to create a very believable, very scary world. You won't come across any humans here, but you will find yourself face-to-face with a wide range of devious enemies that can kill you in a single hit if you get too close.
Whether it's the salamander crocodiles that glow with neon colors, the plant-like tentacles that disguise themselves as metal poles, or the flying monstrosities that seek to pluck you from existence, there's a gushing amount of style and substance to this world.
The rusted exteriors and overgrown industrial environments all ooze with character and detail, which gives you a visual reward for every room you manage to enter.
The terrifying rainstorms that plague this world also offer some insight into what could have happened, but again, nothing is explicity explained. While I don't ever expect too much story from a metroidvania game like this, it's always sad to see such a rich and detailed world go without an explanation for its existence.
This Slugcat Has Teeth: Punishing and Difficult Gameplay
One thing you'll find just about everywhere, are varying opinions on the difficulty of Rain World. Metroidvania styled games are never easy, and that's par for the course, but Rain World takes that punishing difficulty to the next level, and then the level above that.
A typical session of Rain World usually begins with you in a hibernation area, which is a small room that has a retractable entry/exit. Think of these like your save points. It's worth noting that they're pretty far apart.
Every time you hibernate, you gain a Karma level. This isn't something the game explains, but rather represents with a rolling cycle of symbols that appear whenever you sleep. Every time you die, this gets rolled back, unless you manage to find and eat a special type of flower that reinforces your Karma level.
Again, not something the game explains, but something you would discover through exploration, trial, and error. The problem that begins to arise here, is that error comes far more often than not. The enemies can appear just about anywhere and are randomly shuffled when you die.
Whether by human error or just bad luck, you can find yourself in the jaws or tendrils of a creature pretty quickly in Rain World. Defending yourself comes down to stick and stones, quite literally.
Having the enemies change position makes it hard to nail down a strategy, which on its own isn't so bad. What starts to grate on your nerves in Rain World, is the progression system.
In order to leave certain areas, you must reach a certain Karma level. This involves leaving your hibernation room, finding food to fill your meter, and then returning without getting eaten, killed, or drowned by the rainstorms that come at regular intervals.
Even if you reach a new area, there's no guarantee that you'll find a hibernation room prior to your untimely demise. This sends you back to your previous one, takes a Karma level away, switches up the enemies, and wipes away any progress you made on the map.
Sounds a little brutal, doesn't it? Rain World stacks the odds pretty high against the player, and when you combine this with the completely lack of explanation in the game's mechanics, you have a pretty tall order for even the most hardcore difficulty enthusiasts.
Now, this is the part where most reviews will call the game more frustrating than fun, and there are moments when Rain World evokes that kind of feeling in me, but there's also moments where I discover a new mechanic, read about someone else's discovery, or simply make progress, and I'm once again wowed by the world and art design.
It's a double-edged sword to be sure, and even the gameplay itself isn't perfect by any means. Rain World uses a procedurally generated animation system that results in some really cool movements from the enemies, but for Slugcat it can come across as unresponsive and unreliable.
For example, jumping is little more than a hop, and Slugcat's ability to grab onto poles or stop himself from falling seems to be almost entirely tied to his/her current mood. I couldn't ever successfully guarantee that he would grab something I knew he could grab onto, regardless of what button I pressed.
Furthermore, much of the traversal in Rain World involves zipping through pipes like a white Sonic the Hedgehog, which is cool, but there are also little nooks and crannies where Slugcat can easily get stuck inside.
More than a few deaths came because Slugcat leaped into a dead end when I needed him to jump into the next one up to make my escape. Combine the difficulty with the lack of guidance, and these control issues, and you have something that can easily frustrate even the most level-headed player.
Even so, despite all of these things, I still liked Rain World. It's supposed to get local co-op in a future update which I think could really help with some of the difficulty. Some tweaks to the responsiveness, and maybe a few more hints, and this could easily be a solid entry in the metroidvania genre.
Dilapidated Ruins and Mysterious Beasts
I absolutely love the style and art design in Rain World. It's a visually striking game that looks even better in motion. It's a world that begs exploring, with intense detail in every single screen and a mesmerizing animation style for the enemies.
It may sound like a tired phrase, but Slugcat's world is one that begs to be explored. It's just a shame that the game makes it so hard to see it. Despite its flaws, I think Rain World is something gamers should check out.
I say that with a very heavy disclaimer, however. This is a game that doesn't hold your hand, nor does it try to give you the tools you need to succeed. With patience, time, and a lot of grinding, you'll be able to fully enjoy Slugcats mysterious post-apocalyptic world.
If you're not someone who enjoys borderline impossible levels of difficulty, then Rain World isn't for you. On the other hand, if you don't mind being well and truly thrown into a world without anything or anyone to help you survive, I'd say give this one a shot.
Final Score: 7.0/10
A copy of Rain World was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes.
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 3/29/17