Platform reviewed: Xbox Series X/S
Also on: Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC
The art of Rain World is beautiful, but don’t let that fool you. This is a survival game, where only your wit will get you to the next safe point. It’s a challenging game with some of the best AI regarding enemy design. If you want something different from your normal platformer, check out Rain World.
I’ll admit, when I first started to play Rain World, I wasn’t a big fan. Sure, I thought the slug cat creature you control was cute. And I thought the artwork was phenomenal. But, I approached the game like any other platformer, thinking about defeating the enemies, looking for the goal, and figuring out what exactly I was doing - and I ended up dying a lot.
I soon realized this game is a survival game - I’d even go as far as a horror survival game. And this makes Rain World unique compared to other games; you are merely trying to survive. Sometimes you are the hunter, but most times, you are the prey. Through observation and trial and error, you discover if something wants to eat you or let you pass.
The world of Rain World is a haunting wasteland, which plays into the isolation and loneliness you feel when playing Rain World. Everything is out to get you. And the story that unfolds is partly done through the world you interact with and how you interact with your environment. What I love about Rain World is the immersive experience in this gritty world, and your survival is part of the narrative you help shape.
As I stated, you play as a slug cat. You aim to find a safe resting place before heavy rains wash you away. And you need to explore this wasteland full of decrepit old buildings, a shell of a civilization that once prospered. But you need food to survive, so you are out on the hunt for anything that will fill your food meter, so when you do find a haven, you can hibernate with a full belly.
Other creatures also are out on the prowl, looking for a meal. And more often than not, most things you encounter want to harm you. You can crawl through tight spaces, jump and climb up vines, and are quick and nimble. After all, you are a slug cat. But what makes Rain World so interesting and challenging because the enemies are intelligent. There will be times when you enter an area, and it’s clear of enemies - but then the next time you travel back to the site, it could be swarming with monsters who have been sniffing you out, trying to find you. This is where the horror aspect comes in, as these things are smart and could be hiding in a tunnel you decided to check out. The first time my slug cat got killed by this alligator-type creature, it was horrifying.
Watching the patterns of enemies is one of the critical aspects of survival. And it is gratifying to outwit them by sneaking by them or luring two or more creatures in the same area as they attack each. Because of the impressive AI, the world of Rain World feels alive.
At first, I found the pacing to be frustrating. You won’t be able to just blow through areas quickly, in part, due to how intelligent the AI is. You may have to wait things out or think through how you will get to a specific pipe you want to go down. The whole time, though, a “timer” is ticking - you need to find shelter before the rain.
Some hints will help guide you in your journey. This glowing plant-like creature will help point you to where food may be found or shelter. And one of the things I did appreciate is that, after you die, you will start from the last place you found refuge.
The Downpour DLC adds new areas to explore and several different slug cats with new abilities. It also adds local co-op, although I didn’t get a chance to try this during my review.
Final Grade: A
Rain World isn’t like anything I’ve played before. It’s a survival game where part of the narrative is driven by how you approach it. Sneaking by intelligent enemies and harrowing escapes will keep your heart pounding - but it’s these moments that you retell your friends. This isn’t a typical platformer - instead, approach it like you are experimenting and exploring - knowing that it’s you against the elements. You will die a lot, and that’s ok. Part of the game's fun is trial and error and knowing what to do next time.
Review code provided by publisher