Review: Rain World (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PC

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Rain World
Format: PSN (1.76 GB)
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Developer: Videocult
Original MSRP: $19.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Rain World is a 2D survival platformer developed by Adult Swim and Videocult. You play as a “slugcat,” a slow-moving, cat-like creature that is separated from its family after a thunderstorm and lands in an abandoned, urban wilderness.

Gameplay is based entirely on physics, exploration, and time. You must find your way back to the other slugcats by escaping the crushing rainfall that occurs at the end of the day and the predators that lurk around waiting for a tasty meal.

Don’t let this seemingly easy and cute platformer fool you – as a slugcat, you will die, a lot, but you will learn in the process. The point of Rain World is to learn from your mistakes while using the complex ecosystem to your advantage.

Always keep an eye on the clock though, explore too far and you just might get caught in the rain. The rainfall means instant death meaning your slugcat has to find a hibernation shelter before the end of the day, or else risk drowning.

Dying starts you over from the last sleeping spot and resets the number of days you stayed alive, also known as karma points. Balancing time and remembering where your shelter is becomes the main importance in the game.

Exploration is crucial. You can’t stick too long in one area or you will run out of food. You need a total of four pieces of food in order to hibernate, and they can be anything from flowers or fruit to bats or other small creatures.

… items are hard to spot unless you spam the pick-up button …
Food is scattered around the maps and you must try to find the sources and make your way back to shelter by climbing, running through tunnels, swimming, and jumping around to grab onto platforms or poles.

There are a total of twelve diverse regions with no barriers between any of them, so you can easily unlock a new area by accidentally stumbling into it. There is little guidance in the game as you don’t receive any instructions of what certain items do or even a monster index.

You do have a flying guardian who follows you, a little less annoying than Navi, that indicates where you can find food and shelter, or if an enemy is nearby. However, your guardian points in a somewhat vague or general direction, forcing you to make your own shortcuts. The game makes it so that you don’t rely too much on the guardian. You are still free to explore whatever you want.

Your slugcat can pick-up objects like rocks to throw at enemies and momentarily distract them or metal bars to help make a difficult climb. Because the background is oftentimes dark, the items are hard to spot unless you spam the pick-up button. The slugcat can only throw weapons horizontally, meaning that flying enemies are harder to escape from.

The movements of the slugcat are also sluggish (pun?), so climbing isn’t easy and requires work. The slugcat is both fluid and clumsy. I’ve found that it can become stuck in small corners or under crevices, leaving you especially vulnerable when enemies are near.

… you can outsmart them before they eat you …
It can be challenging when I’m trying to reach a certain area while maneuvering my way around the monsters and difficult climbs. Some tunnels are also hard to reach unless you find a good spot to make a high jump. Luckily, the slugcat can automatically grab onto ledges or poles, as long as it is able to touch them.

Enemies range from crocodile-like creatures to giant vultures that fume smoke. They are strange and dangerous with each predator having its own functions, abilities, and disadvantages. They’ll chase if they spot you, and some of them do not give up easily as they can enter other areas, but by using the environment you can outsmart them before they eat you.

Just be careful when approaching something unusual as it could potentially kill you, like innocent looking plants that can catch and strangle the slugcat or vines that imitate poles.

Each enemy has its own routine, so you might get lucky and enter an area with no predators in sight. Other times, all of the enemies might be condensed within a single spot, making it hard to access other routes.

I was able to draw the enemies away when this happened to me, but this can prove to be a waste of time when I could’ve been searching for food or another shelter. The clock ticks away pretty fast, giving that anxiety to find shelter before the rainfall.

Your job as a slugcat is to be as sneaky as possible and survive as many days as you can. Some areas require that you survive a number of days in order to enter them, so it is a good idea to try to reach the highest day as soon as possible. Memorization is also key so always remember the pathway to your shelter, should you run into trouble.

… Rain World is as challenging as it is visually striking …
Visuals:
Rain World retains beautiful and appropriate watercolor landscapes that vary from skylines and oceans to forested areas. It also has a slight steampunk look and feel, especially in the Industrial Complex map with the rusted pipes, metal structures, and complex machinery. Some maps are darker than others, to convey the bleak feeling of a survivalist platformer.

The white slugcat creature is adorable and easy to spot when you’re moving through tunnels or pitch-black areas. Enemies are recognizable by their body mark patterns and neon colors, and your little Navi guide is a bright yellow.

My only issue is the inability to see what items you’re able to pick-up. Rocks and metal rods are colored black, so they’re hard to spot in dark backgrounds. Other items have an obvious glint to them, indicating a more significant purpose. What that purpose is though, is for you to figure out.

The graphics are captivating and very detailed in this amazing and unique place that immediately identifies the sinister tones within a cruel world about life and death. Interluding scenes that reveal some of the story look hand-drawn, while the rest of the game has a cute quality to it. Some of the monsters even seem huggable.

But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a difficult game. Rain World is as challenging as it is visually striking, where the player experiences a multitude of environments and creatures.

Audio:
This game is designed to keep your eyes and ears open, using musical notes and certain rhythms as indications to warn the player.

The music is not just “part of the game,” it is inserted in a way that becomes useful. There is a down-tempo that plays when enemies are near you. It starts off slow the further you are from them and becomes louder as they start to give chase and get closer.

… the strange celebratory feeling of being able to live to see the next day …
Overall, the background music does tend to give the game an ominous feel which conflicts with the beautiful visuals. You can expect an enemy around the corner with the seemingly soothing music that plays.

It really places you on edge, especially when you know you’re running out of time in the day. Nothing is as it seems and if you find that the music changes, expect to enter a new area or encounter something horrendous.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
In a vast, ever-changing environment, Rain World challenges players to bring out their survival instincts. It’s tough, brutal, and beautiful, leaving you with the strange celebratory feeling of being able to live to see the next day. While the mechanics are awkward, it still accomplishes its goal of being a tactical survivalist game.

Keep in mind that this game is designed to make the player fail and learn because it imitates the cruelty of nature. Animals are on the constant brink of death in the wild. We see lions eat zebras on Animal Planet and we don’t blink an eye.

Rain World places us in the fictional point-of-view of the prey – a tiny, weak, but nimble slugcat to show the indifference of suffering and death in the wilderness. So while this can prove to be a frustrating game, the experience coupled with the gorgeous visuals makes it all worthwhile.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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