Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
- DAILY REVIEWS -
Ayo: A Rain Tale Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Although it's light on story and details, Ayo's journey is compelling and I like that it sheds light on a real struggle many of us never think about. That said, the emotional punch would have hit harder if they had given us a better understanding of the people and culture of Sub-Saharan Africa. Ayo: A Rain Tale has an intriguing premise that would have been a lot better with more context. Rating: 71%
Ayo: A Rain Tale
«
Ayo: A Rain Tale Ayo: A Rain Tale Ayo: A Rain Tale Ayo: A Rain Tale
  • Review Score:

  • B
A few years ago I reviewed a game called Never Alone, a deeply personal platformer that explored the history and culture of the Inupiaq people in Alaska. While the platforming wasn't all that deep and the puzzles could have been better, I was moved by the way it introduced me to struggles I had never considered. At first glance, Ayo: A Rain Tale looks a lot like Never Alone. It's another side-scrolling puzzler starring a young girl going on an emotional journey just to stay alive. But don't go in expecting to learn about the culture and history of the Sub-Saharan African people, because this brand new PC game only takes us part of the way.

Water is one of those things I take for granted. There has never been a day in my life when I didn't have the option to run to the faucet, grab a hose or buy bottled water. But for millions of people around the world, water is a constant struggle. That's the case with Ayo, a young woman who is feeling the harsh effects of the Sahelian droughts and has the burden of making the long trip to the well to gather up water for her family.


What Ayo wasn't anticipating was just how torturous the trek was going to be. She gets stuck in a sudden sand storm, which ultimately ends with her falling into a cavern and getting lost. This sends her on a journey where she'll face her fears and discover the wonderful magic of Africa. And I'm not even talking about the continent's gorgeous vistas, but actual magical characters that will fly around and teach our hero new abilities.

This is, for the most part, a fairly straight-forward 2D platformer. It's the type where you'll occasionally have to dodge enemies and jump on crumbling platforms. Over time we'll gain the ability to push giant boulders, dig into tight tunnels and, of course, double jump to hard to reach areas. You'll also find that a lot of the puzzles revolve around switching between yellow and blue platforms, something you'll initially do with organic switches before earning the ability to do it at will.

Ayo's journey will take her through all kinds of beautiful hand-drawn locations. I was initially left cold by some of the art choices, but some of the locations and backgrounds are truly stunning. And even though the game is barely two hours long, it still feels like we go on an epic journey. Part of this is because we end up covering a lot of ground. From the murky swamp to the lava caves to the dying forest, the game does a good job of throwing new areas at us. There are even a couple of cool looking boss fights.

Ayo: A Rain Tale (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

For as much as I like the setting and theme, I wish the game would have leaned into the real history and struggles more. One of the things I really liked about Never Alone was how it introduced us to real people and didn't shy away from discussing the tribe's culture, heritage and legacy. That's the reason the game has stuck with me for three years. There was an opportunity to do that here, but Ayo: A Rain Tale doesn't take the concept all the way. I was left with a lot more questions than answers.

As a side-scrolling platformer, Ayo is okay. Her handling isn't as precise as you might expect and the game is never very difficult. I also wish the puzzles were a little more complicated. The developers introduce some interesting ideas, but they only scrape the surface of what they could have done. If you're anything like me and grew up playing old 8- and 16-bit games, then you'll have no problem beating this without dying more than a handful of times.

Although it's light on story and details, Ayo's journey is compelling and I like that it sheds light on a real struggle many of us never think about. That said, the emotional punch would have hit harder if they had given us a better understanding of the people and culture of Sub-Saharan Africa. Ayo: A Rain Tale has an intriguing premise that would have been a lot better with more context.
comments powered by Disqus