‘Rain World’ Review: Deceivingly Cute, Deceptively Difficult

out of 5

Rain World is a new indie title from developer Videocult and published by Adult Swim Games. Players take on the role of an odd, but cute, creature called a “slugcat,” who has lost his family. Find food, shelter, and avoid predators on your quest to find your way back to your loved ones. Part side-scrolling platformer and part survival game, Rain World is a creative and artistic feast for the eyes. Just don’t be fooled by the cute factor, it is no walk in the park.

Rain World starts out pretty standard after the storyboard intro, but the graphics and environmental effects are the first thing to stand out. The pixel art style is amazing and very different. The water effects are gorgeous and levels are beautifully designed. Water, or the rain, is constantly a threat and will kill your slugcat. Players must navigate each screen carefully, leaping and climbing, and then traversing between areas with little tunnels. As well, each area usually contains randomly generated predators that can easily kill and drag your cute little corpse away.

Each area is a test of survival and patience. Slugcat must make his way to little waterproof havens to hibernate. These also act as a save points. To be able to hibernate, players must collect at least four “food bubble” indicators worth of food. You can catch flies and pick fruit, each providing a single bubble, but planning for this should always be a priority. These safe zones are unfortunately few and far between and one of the many challenges of Rain World. Whenever your slugcat dies, players must start over at this safe area, and sometimes it is a long way back to where you died. If you can even make it that far again.

The controls in Rain World are touchy, to say the least. This has to be my biggest complaint. Some games are hard; the challenge is enjoyed by some players more than others. Rain World isn’t just challenging, it’s frustrating. The controls are so touchy that it can be unfair. Many times I would leap to a rope and push up to grab it (no tutorial tells you this, it is learned the hard way) only to miss and fall to my doom. I know I pushed up, it’s unfair, but the bigger question is, why do I need to? Why are the controls so complicated in the first place?

For some reason Rain World tosses in the random spawning locations of enemy predators as well. They change every time you die. At times your poor slugcat will go through a tunnel to the next area only to emerge and be eaten before the player has any chance to react! That cute little bugger never had a chance. In times that you aren’t caught by surprise, your slugcat can either run away or pointlessly throw sticks at the predators 10 times his size. Even the smaller enemies in later levels have throwing spears! It seems a tad unbalanced. My slugcat was doomed from the beginning. As was Rain World unfortunately.

An incredible concept in game design and art style out of the gate, Rain World had the potential to be amazing. I applaud Videocult for their art direction, creativity, graphics, and innovative pairing of side-scrolling platformer and survival game, but alas, the end result is a frustrating game that only left me angry. I really wish developers would just build in options to make their games more difficult, leaving it to the player to choose. Then there would be more save locations and maybe your slugcat could take a couple hits before being eaten in one bite. Poor slugcat. Hopefully Rain World will see an update that corrects these issues.

Rain World is available now on PlayStation 4 and Steam. This review is based on a PS4 copy provided for that purpose.

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