Rain World Review
The Many Gruesome Deaths Of An Adorable Slugcat
Look at that soft, adorable slugcut. Those inquisitive eyes. That chubby little body and tiny, grasping hands as it leads through the air. It’s no wonder they made a cute little plushie of it, right? Thing is, it’s your job to make sure that thing survives a harsh climate. Keeps away from predators. Dodges sneaky flora and fauna. Does the slugcat look like it has much of a chance of doing that?
Well, it doesn’t, and without a LOT of work from you, that won’t change.
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Release: March 28, 2017
Intel i5-4690K CPU @ 3.50GHz
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
Rain World throws you down into a strange, corroded world, one that appears to have held a population years before the torrential rains came. The game does wonderful things with its environmental storytelling, showing you what appear to be ancient cities and factories, hinting at the lives that used to be there before everything crumbled and rusted. It’s a game that makes it fun to stop and admire the vast ruins you’re exploring, taking them in and thinking on what used to be there.
There is little time to admire, though, as you have several things to worry about. For starters, you’ll need to find food. Smaller creatures can be grabbed and eaten for a quick snack, such as bats. Thing is, they don’t want to be eaten any more than you do, so you’ll have to leap around and rush after them to catch them. The game is generous with your grabbing ability, thankfully, so catching moving food isn’t especially challenging if you can get close. The trouble is that your food is typically far more mobile than you, so you have to be sneaky, yet quick.
Once you catch something, it takes a few bites to cram it into you (done by holding the grab button). You can double fist food, though, so you will want to grab two things before breaking off for a moment to eat. You can eat just about anywhere, too, so don’t feel like you need to rush back to solid ground.
That’s handy, as many of your predators will lurk near the ground (at least in the beginning). These are the things that are looking to eat you, and each of them have different behaviors. Large, reptile-like creatures will come at you quickly on the ground, killing you should they catch you (as everything does in this game).
Never think you know these creatures completely. Many of them have different abilities, indicated by a change of color. Pink reptiles will climb poles, which the green ones can’t. Blue ones can clamber along just about any surface, dogging you. The enemies gain new abilities quickly, so if there’s even a slight difference, you’ll want to take more care. And they also don’t give up, following you from area to area once they catch sight of you.
The environment is also out to get you as well. Something as simple as a climbable pole can turn on you in a moment. Rain World excels at making you feel that you know everything about what it has in store for you, then surprising you with a new danger. Something you take for granted suddenly becomes lethal. It’s a vicious world for the little slugcat to survive in.
You’re, luckily, quite nimble. You can climb up poles, shimmy across small platforms, and squeeze yourself through tiny tubes. You can take long, flying leaps to distant platforms. This mobility gives slugcat an edge when fleeing or trying to stay out of sight. Slugcat is naturally quite small, too, making it difficult to notice if you are careful. You can also lead those predators into each other, though, which will often leave them fighting (or killing) each other, giving you time to escape.
That being said, you will die, and die often. Creatures only have to grab onto your little tail, or snag a stray limb, to drag you in and kill you. A missed jump, a poorly-chosen time to run, or too much dawdling will all lead to death. It’s very, very easy to die in this game, and should that happen, you’ll end up back at the last time you hibernated.
Hibernation can only be done in a couple of places throughout each of the game’s many areas. These enclosed rooms keep you safe from the rain (which falls, in spectacular fashion, after a set amount of time, killing you in moments), and will let you save the game. You need to have four units of food in your belly (each eaten creature counts as one, and you can keep seven in you at a given time) to hibernate – so it’s really important to grab food whenever you get a chance.
Now, avoiding rain, predators, and environmental hazards that will kill you in one hit when you’re no match for them is hard. Very hard. On top of that, though, there is a slipperiness – an imprecision – to the slugcat’s movement in the game. It feels like it often takes an extra step or two, or doesn’t quite get where you want him to go when too many paths are close together.
This adds an unnecessary challenge to a game that is already viciously difficult, and while it makes logical sense for an animal to make mistakes when under distress, it causes many deaths that feel unnecessary. Given how much progress you can lose to a single goof-up, this can make the game very, very frustrating at times.
“In creating this vision of helping a small creature survive, Rain World has fully captured the miracle and emotions of such a creature continuing to live in such a harsh world.”
It can work in your favor, though, as it seems the other animals fall prey to this imprecision as well. Sometimes you can just start jumping away, even when you’re in their grip, and escape. This doesn’t work a lot, but it can still help you escape at times.
Rain World is a game of constant pressure – a tension caused by being in danger from all angles all the time. It’s those moments where that pressure lets off that make it feel truly special, though. When you find food, slamming it into your cute little mouth. When you get two predators to fight each other as you skulk away. When dank caverns give way to hidden places filled with the graffiti and architecture of lose worlds. There are these moments of peace, relief, and beauty that draw you in, making you want to keep surviving.
That, and the look on the slugcat’s face. It’s hard not to want to help this dopey-looking creature. It’s endlessly charming to watch it hop its chubby white body around, scrambling to clamber up things, or when its stubby little arms grasp at food just out of reach. Its look and movement convey its helplessness, and you’re drawn in to want to save it.
You may not know how to save it, though. Rain World can be difficult to comprehend in places, using mechanisms and player growth in ways it doesn’t make any attempt to explain. Without giving some of those mechanics away, you will need to be paying attention at all times to pick up on some of the game’s clues as to how to progress, and your means of progression can be extremely challenging. These puzzles add more depth to the game’s already complex world, although they can be very irritating when you’re getting eaten too much.
Rain World is a tense survival experience, one that will have you going through the emotions the slugcat must be feeling. Fear, anxiety, exhaustion – these are all things you’ll experience, but also joy, peace, and wonder. Maybe a little frustration as well, given how hard it can be to survive in this tense world.
Then again, it wouldn’t be a survival experience or a believable one if the developers made it simple for such a helpless creature to stay alive. Yes, slugcat is small and cute, but that only makes its survival less likely. In creating this vision of helping a small creature survive, the developers have fully captured the miracle of such a creature continuing to live, and the full scope of emotions one would feel in this situation. It had to be hard. It had to be frustrating. If not, the beauty and joy of helping slugcat live wouldn’t be as intense as it is.
Rain World is a hard game by necessity, but if you have the dedication to see it through, it will be a powerful experience.