Rain World is an indie game that pulls no punches. It has no sympathy for the player as it conveys a realistic dystopian world where a meager slugcat has virtually no chance of survival against the array of larger, faster, stronger predators that now populate the land.
Rain World also provides the most minimal of explanations to the player, expecting them to discover objectives for themselves and learn new ways to survive. This isn't unusual for survival games (I mean, it's not hard to survive if you have an omniscient being telling you everything you need to do), but Rain World really throws you into the world with scant direction.
After an hour or so, you'll start to discover a few core tenets of the gameplay. Doors between rooms are marked with small white lines, shelters act as save points (which are very spread out), and your adorable little slugcat needs to eat in order to hibernate and activate these shelters. Food usually consists of smaller animals like bats as well as fruit from small plants.
You'll also discover how unfair life is for a slugcat. Death lurks around every corner in the form of large predators that move and act in unexpected ways. There are weapons (although I'm being generous calling them that) such as rocks and sticks that can be thrown. These generally don't do much damage to enemies so your best bet is usually to find a way around them instead. This usually consists taking a risk and running or jumping past them or tediously waiting for them to wander off in a different direction.
Whenever you die (and you will do so a lot), you're punished rather severely as you're sent back to your previous shelter which could easily be 20 rooms away from where you perished. You lose all of the food that you've collected and if you gained any karma along the way (earned by eating food and then hibernating) then you will be dropped down a level. Karma is used to unlock doors and progress in the world so losing a level every time you die is a huge bummer.
I don't think Rain World's challenge would have bothered me quite as much if the gameplay itself wasn't so dull. The platforming is intentionally sloppy and imprecise, resulting in regularly missed jumps and slugcat not grabbing onto a pipe or vine when you expect it to. Objectives are bland and basically just consist of slowly progressing forward and collecting morsels of food when you can and combat is virtually non-existent. Instead, you just have to run away from almost every enemy you come across. Also, the world (while its detailed 2D graphics are visually stunning) is lifeless and dark. Whenever you die, you get to experience a lot of it over and over again.
Developer Videocult took a brave chance with Rain World. They've stripped it of almost all the traditional video game tropes, leaving just an aggressively difficult 2D survival platformer. Purists may find a lot to love here but in my eyes, it's simply an interesting concept that fails at being an enjoyable video game.
- + Detailed 2D visuals
- + Survival purists may love it
- - Sluggish platforming
- - Cruel penalties for death
- - Lacks exciting gameplay objectives and has a mostly lifeless world