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Rain World Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Rain World isn't a bad game, per se. There are a lot of things I genuinely love about it, from the pixel graphics to the world building. I respect the years of effort that obviously went into creating something this unique and intriguing, and it's clear that this game was made by a talented team. But between the gameplay issues, the cruel difficulty, the cheap deaths, the lack of food and the nonsensical way you advance from one area to the next, I found that I never had much fun. Rain World is a game I admire, but also kind of hate. Rating: 50%
Rain World
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  • Review Score:

  • C
Is it possible to hate a game you truly admire? That's a question I kept coming back to while playing Rain World. This is a game that is obviously a labor of love, full of fascinating ideas and a haunting world to explore. It's gorgeous and beautifully animated, often reminding me of games like Flashback and Another World. Listening to the developer talk about the five year journey they went on to create this game makes me want to love Rain World. But I don't, and I found that playing through this brand new PlayStation 4 and PC adventure game just left me sad and angry.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. You play a little slugcat, an adorable creature that gets swept away from its family after an especially bad rainstorm. He's trying to make it back home safely, which is a task made a lot harder by a hostile landscape filled with slugcat-eating insects. The goal is to search the world for food to eat and then hibernate during the wet parts of the night. Every time he seeks shelter, he'll digest a certain amount of food and be forced to go back into the dangerous world looking for more fruit and bats to munch on.


While it seems small and simple at first, looks can be deceiving. This is a game spread out across a dozen locations with more than 1,400 rooms to explore. It's an epic adventure that hopes you'll want to experiment with the ecosystem and learn the ins and outs of this sprawling world. With the exception of the controls and some basic information, the game doesn't hold your hand and spell out what's going on. I liked that.

The good news is that our little slugcat isn't alone. He has a mysterious helper who will attempt to point him in the right direction and warn of trouble. This character also helps fill in the story, offering a compelling narrative that hints that something bigger is at play. This is one of the things that grabbed my attention right from the get-go and kept me engaged, even as I found myself frustrated to the point of anger by other elements of Rain World.

The truth is, there are a lot of things I genuinely love about Rain World. For one thing, I think the world Videocult has constructed is breath-taking. It uses stunning pixel art graphics to create an environment that is both vaguely familiar and slightly post-apocalyptic. All this is punctuated by the incredible animation, which is smooth and gives both our hero and the bad guys a real sense of character.

I also love the concept of the ecosystem. The various insects found in the world aren't just bad guys waiting around to be killed, but rather feel like living, breathing creatures with their own agency. They'll fight other insects over land and wander around in unpredictable ways. They also look cool. Much like the world they inhabit, they're vaguely familiar, and yet still a bit alien by design. I was in awe at what the developers were able to pull off, which is something that will be echoed in a lot of this review.

Rain World (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

What you'll quickly realize is that our hero slugcat will levels up every time he hibernates. This is displayed through a series of foreign symbols. He doesn't actually gain any new abilities or become stronger, but having the right symbol will allow the little guy to open up gates and advance to the next area. This is an interesting concept, but also part of what makes this game so frustrating to play.

The conceit here is that you'll lose a level every single time you die. Unfortunately, you'll die a lot. As I mentioned, this is a hostile world and death is always just around the corner. You'll typically be able to see the insects coming, but that's not always the case. Even early in the game, there are enemies that can camouflage themselves and gobble you up without much notice. You'll constantly travel between rooms and be killed by enemies that are just waiting for something to come through the passage.

I'm a big fan of tough games, but Rain World feels cruel and unfair at times. This is especially true when you're trying to advance to the next area. In order to keep your levels up, you'll need to eat food and stay alive. But the food doesn't automatically reappear, so you'll be forced to expand your search, which increases the odds you'll get trapped by a bad guy. I kept getting into situations where I would spend multiple hours stuck looking for food to level up, dying and leveling down, and then expanding my hunt even further to make up for the yo-yo leveling.

The sluggish gameplay makes the experience so much worse. This is a game that wants you to slither around the bad guys and even hide in the many shallow holes scattered around. But none of this is very easy because of the way the game plays. I would constantly find that the slugcat wouldn't hide or jump properly, resulting in what felt like a cheap death. And since dying means you'll need to work even harder to gain back the levels, it will feel like you're losing hours of progress. This is not fun. And if I'm being completely honest, I spent most of my time angry and not enjoying its cruelty.

Rain World (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Between the rampant deaths from enemies you can't see to the way you level up and down, I spent four hours in one section just trying to advance the story. I ultimately restarted the game and ran into the same problem. I eventually gave up. Even though I'm the kind of person who loved every second of Dark Souls and other notoriously difficult games, I felt like I was just spinning my wheels and wasting time. I'm sure this will find a cult following that not only accepts, but loves the sluggish gameplay and sadistic difficulty, but after spending almost a full day banging my head against the wall, I finally came to the conclusion that it's just not for me.

Rain World isn't a bad game, per se. There are a lot of things I genuinely love about it, from the pixel graphics to the world building. I respect the years of effort that obviously went into creating something this unique and intriguing, and it's clear that this game was made by a talented team. But between the gameplay issues, the cruel difficulty, the cheap deaths, the lack of food and the nonsensical way you advance from one area to the next, I found that I never had much fun. Rain World is a game I admire, but also kind of hate.
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