Rain World sees players attempting to survive in harsh and often deadly environments as an adorable half-cat, half-slug hybrid creature. The visual style is certainly a throwback to the 16-bit era, and it's your job to ensure the nomadic slugcat’s (yes, the developers call it that) survival by eating enough food before hibernating and avoiding the brightly colored beasts that hunt you mercilessly.
After a heartfelt and soul crushing opening sequence, you are left alone in an attempt to reunite with your family after a powerful storm sweeps you away. Things don’t get easier for our cute protagonist, as you must scavenge for enough food to survive hibernation while avoiding the lizard-like beasts in post-apocalyptic landscapes. Without telling the player, namely anything, you are left on your own to figure out what Rain World is about. Without the use of unlockable abilities or anything of that sort, you are left with barebones mechanics to help you survive: jump, grab, throw.After quite a few frustrating attempts, the game began to click, but that doesn’t stop it from being awfully punishing, almost to the degree of pushing players away from seeing the narrative till the conclusion.
The game plays out in single screen rooms, where you must figure out where you must go while trying to survive. Crawling is much slower than running on your two hind legs, but you also make less noise while on all fours. Edible flies make enough noise that you can locate them on your map, but merely eating and sleeping isn’t going to advance the plot. While it’s true, you must hibernate a certain number of times before other areas become explorable, you are meant to search for various routes and paths because you never know when you’ll come across a nasty foe. What the predators will do when they spot you is entirely procedural, so it depends on your location, how much noise you are making and if multiple creatures are after you. There is an absolute adrenaline rush from escaping one monster, and seeing another one entire the room and start a brawl with the other, as you stealthy climb to a new location. Other times, the creatures are content with flopping their bodies around the exact pipe you want to take to move on to the next room.
Most of the creatures, especially those in later areas, come without warning, and you will most likely not survive. The thrill of escape is exhilarating, especially when the locations for these beasts are altered every time you hibernate, so you don’t know what waits for you. Without instructions, you are left on your own to figure out how to make precision jumps, balance on steel rods jutting from concrete structures and even how to throw spears or rocks at your foes. You are given very basic hints by a helper worm that points you in the direction you should be heading.
Too often in Rain World, death does not feel warranted, as the ruthless creatures make any attempt to advance truly punishing. I felt that many times that there was simply no way to avoid dying, which in turns sets you back in your progress to locate new areas to explore. There are thrilling moments in the game, but the poor design decisions in the game hamper any enjoyment.Note: Rain World was reviewed on PlayStation 4. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.