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Rain World Review

  • First Released Mar 28, 2017
  • Reviewed Mar 31, 2017
  • PC
  • PS4

Storm and sanctuary.

Rain World effectively illustrates the cruel indifference of nature. As a half-rabbit, half-slug creature trying to reunite with its family, you start smack dab in an unfamiliar land with an ecosystem where you're both predator and prey. Rain is a threat to your survival, but it pales in comparison to the game's many hunters and, unfortunately, unforgiving environments.

Rain is to blame for the rabbit-slug's isolation to begin with. As the opening cutscenes illustrate, the storms are what separated the poor creature from its family. The resulting quest to reunite with its loved ones is a long and arduous 2D trek that challenges you with limited resources and abilities. Your most useful skills are the ones you start with, namely a good throwing arm and a long jump. Ultimately, these are all you need to reach Rain World's end, though the game's pervasive threats made me crave more skills. If you get caught in the rain, you die. The only way you can survive is if you manage to reach one of the game's many waterproof shelters.

Once you reach a shelter, however, you're forced into hibernation, and surviving the long sleep requires consuming a minimum of four food items, be it flies or fruit. A screen's worth of fruit or flies--assuming there are some available--often provides the food you need but it takes a few hibernation periods to replenish. As a result, you're often compelled to explore beyond your comfort zone for other food sources.

Comfort is a relative term in Rain World. You can commit a region's layout and myriad paths to memory, but you're still vulnerable to many merciless predators. Their locations on the map change every time you emerge from slumber. This typically sustains a moderate level of freshness in each play session, though it's not uncommon to find yourself in punishing and unfair situations. Some creatures--like the giant vultures--appear with little to no warning. And if your timing is unlucky, a vicious lizard can be waiting for you at the edge of the next screen, leaving you with no opportunity to react, let alone escape. In a game that forces you to mentally juggle numerous variables to survive, these unpreventable deaths can feel exceedingly frustrating.

If you do manage to create distance between you and a lizard, the ensuing chase can be hampered by platforming issues. Rain World's tutorial offers minimal instruction and learning how to interact with the environment can be vexing. A seemingly simple act like jumping off a bridge to grab a metal rod jutting from the concrete should be easy. Instead, you're forced to move with the finesse of a trapeze artist, the feeling of which is at odds with the urgency of escaping a pursuer you have no chance of defeating.

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Survival is a layered experience in Rain World, sometimes to the detriment of your enjoyment. Aside from the demands of reaching shelter with enough food in your belly, forward progress is impeded by gates between each region. Passing those gates requires maintaining a positive win-loss record--in other words, your hibernation frequency has to be higher than your death rate; a seeming bizarre and arbitrary requirement. Given all the game's other demands, this method of proving your worthiness feels harsh and nonsensical in practice. Having to forage and hibernate for the sole purpose of passing a gate feels disrespectful of the player's time since there are no other rewards for killing and eating.

As a result, there's a heightened sense of relief in reaching a new region. As you explore each new area, you're hit with a renewed feeling of resignation and acceptance of the many deaths you'll soon rack up as you reach dead ends and find the mainline path to the next gate. In an unfair process of trial and error, you make leaps of faith off cliffs to test whether falling beyond the bottom of the screen means your death or the discovery of a new area. And when you find a new gate, the tiresome process of hibernating for the privilege of passing that gate begins anew.

The silver lining of forward progress is that you're continually treated to the unique and striking visuals of Rain World's ruined landscape. The surreal creature designs, combined with the lack of humans makes this world feel both eerily lonely and alien. It carries the same imaginative spirit of games like Bioshock and Abzu, where you're too preoccupied admiring the artistry to question the logistics of how these man made environments were constructed within the fiction.

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One of the tragedies of Rain World's shortcomings is that you don't need to dig deep to see glimmers of excellence. There are a handful of satisfying moments of exercising ingenuity when you're using your environment and limited resources to your advantage. You can lure two predators into the same area, and the resulting fight between the two will give you an opportunity for a discrete escape. A stick is primarily intended to stun predators, but it's also useful as a climbing point if you throw it against a wall. Rain World shines during the rare moments that encourage improvisation, like when you grab and haul a glowing mouse-like creature against its will so you can use its body to illuminate an otherwise pitch black area.

In Rain World, the spectre of failure, often caused by events you can't control, lingers heavily. It quickly drives home the point that you're a foreigner in a ruined land where anyone larger than you wants to eat you. Its stunningly detailed backgrounds and few rewarding gameplay opportunities are vastly outweighed by its platforming imperfections and hibernation mechanic, which makes little sense in its connection to accessing new areas. Oftentimes, the frustrations resulting from failure devolve into apathy, which is a wholly unfortunate outcome for a game that gives off a deceptively promising first impression.

Back To Top
The Good
Rewards adaptation to evolving circumstances
Imaginative looking environments
The Bad
Puzzlingly time consuming hibernation mechanic
Poor platforming designs
Ruthless enemies make playthroughs punishing
Dying can be unpreventable
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Miguel needed about 20 hours to complete Rain World. A complementary PS4 code was provided by Adult Swim Games for review purposes.
33 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for frameworker

This is a review to regret. Hall of Shame Indeed. In the future, 2017 will be remebered as the year if Rain World. And this review will be looked upon as that infamous record company boss that turned down The Beatles... RW:s fanbase is constantly growing, fan art - especially in Asia - is amazing, hardcore gamers have been uprating it constantly on Steam. The Dark Souls of 2017. Sorry you missed it. Your loss

Avatar image for alexander_mark

It wouldn't be frustrating if you were better.

Here's a 2 hour speed run with 3 deaths:

And soon people will be beating it by playing with one foot only. Sad implication of your review is that if they made the game easier for you to win, you would score it more highly. You sound like Dan Stapleton trying to play Bloodborne.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

Another terrible design that I have noticed is that the player has to have the player character toggled into crawl mode to crawl into vents. Considering that the vents can only be crawled into, having to go into a crawling posture is a tedious requirement.

This design decision was games of days of yore, back before more competent game designers decided that this was unnecessary and unrewarding.

Yet another dubious design is that off-screen predators can spot the player character. The only indicator for this that I have noticed is a change in the tempo of the music, but even then the music is so subdued.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

There is no clear way to know how wide the vision arc of other creatures are.

The only thing that I have observed is that creatures which are not moving are more likely to spot other things than creatures of the same species which are moving, but with no clear information on any transition in the widths of their vision arcs when they begin or stop moving, this information is useless for timing movement with.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

I just discovered an awful design oversight in this one, and one that plagues 2D platformers because their developers make poor decisions.

Some screens have no indicators whatsoever for incoming off-screen hostiles, as can be seen here. This problem has been in the unfinished version when it was showcased by GameSpot and Giant Bomb last year.

There are attempts to implement something, such as lights that flash different colours when a creature with hostile intent is going through a vent, as can be seen here. Yet, not every entry or exit in a room have such indicators.

Also, for a platformer, there is not enough contrast for platforms which the player can move on. For example, here is a platform that seems to blend into the background.

Avatar image for nknow1966

This gam seems to fucking hate the gamer.

Hard pass.

Avatar image for garfield

Deceptively premising indeed.

Game looks amazing - graphics, setting, premise, protagonist, enemies.

Too bad.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@Itzsfo0: Good grief, that was fucking difficult to read. You are terrible, terrible at punctuation, whenever you are not lifting passages.

That said, you might be vaunting Joar Jakobsson a bit too much. He's not the only indie game developer with his own story as a foreigner in a foreign land; other examples include Lucas Pope, who is Russian. (Now, of course, you might be in favour of Jakobsson because you supposedly knew him personally.)

Also, you have lifted three entire passages from the Wikipedia page for the game. You could have just pointed people to over there instead of copying stuff from the Wikipedia page.

Avatar image for aiat_gamer

Another game running after the whole Souls like difficulty without actually understanding it. As the director of Souls game said, there is a difference between a game being difficult and unreasonable. This game definitely fits the latter. Shame, they ruined an otherwise great game.

Avatar image for Itzsfo0

@aiat_gamer: the developers werent ONLY chasing after the difficulty of souls games (its easy to look at it this way) I dont know many game developers (personally none at all) EXCEPT Joar Jakobsson (he lived for a period of time after coming off the boat from Sweden) I've been following his work since 2009 (when he did alittle upstart called Videocult) and of course they are teamed with the production at ASG (Adult Swim Games) Joar and Christian I know, Joar I know personally (From his time in my hometown in Maryland). This game had alot of promise, and many people I know (had been following it for quite some time) ever since we first saw a demo impression at PAX West in 2012. Nearly 5 years since then, and a team of 6 people (and honestly) they weren't aiming for a 2-D souls (we already have that its called Salt & Sanctuary and its a great game, ALSO worked on by Joar himself) no actually what he was aiming for (and his exact words were) "an open world platformer w/ a misanthropic feel (basically post apocalyptic) IE Fallout meets Super Meat Boy...SMB in the sense of a "progressing challenge, striking retro visuals w/ dynamic effects such as dynamic soundtrack, etc" (in that sense they SUCCEEDED) b/c the visuals are striking (even for a platforming in an industry FULL of retro-indie inspired platformers) theres plenty out there to see , test & play.

Just load up Steam on your Surface Pro or desktop PC, and look at all the indie games going for $19.99. I've enjoyed MANY of them (and I'm sure many others have as well) - not saying you are wrong with your view...but knowing what I Know (and I wouldn't say I know much about MOST development cycles, or the developers themselves) but in this specific single/sole case I do know what they were aiming for. A super meat boy challenge/control-scheme & soundtrack in a Fallout-esque post apocalytpic (albeit 2-D enviroment) with a steep challenge. The soundtrack ANYONE can appreciate, the visuals & dynamic effects (weather, monster movements) people can also appreciate...its nothing "revolutionary" but its just good. The theme & idea of the game is great, and (as Gamespot says RIGHT here in this very review) QUOTE:

"Oftentimes, the frustrations resulting from failure devolve into apathy, which is a wholly unfortunate outcome for a game that gives off a deceptively promising first impression."

I admit the first impression, the PAX West Demo, the E3 2015, and Playstation Experience (2016) demo's were all full of promise, many people were excited, the comparison most people OFTEN took was a "post apocalyptic Ori and the Blind Forest" I saw numerous arguments on youtube Ori vs Rain World (the Metroidvania style of retro-indie games) thats what Joar & his team wanted...a OPEN world 2-D post apocalytpic "survival" platformer, he wanted the Slugcat to be weak, pathetically weak, he didnt want your character/unit to feel overwhelmingly powerful (when we control the Marios, and Super Meat Boys, and Tim from Braid) we feel we have power...we have a list of abilities, controls are tight & they can bounce 90 degrees off a wall and flip between chasms (well atleast Meat Boy can lol) Joar was inspired by those games BUT wanted the Slugcat you control in this game to be simple, weak & basically EVERYTHING can kill/eat you. You are at the very bottom of the food chain, even in Dark Souls (after even alittle bit of time) you have acquire gear, you beef up, increase stats (in typical RPG fashion) and you well...(even with the obvious challenge) and the enviroments often causing accidental casualties you basically have an action adventure RPG w/ a bit more (bit being keyword I never found DS, DS2, and DS3 ALL that difficult even on multiple playthroughs & Bonfire's increasing the +1, +2, +3 difficulty) I dont see it as all that bad. But I know what you mean, vs alot of other franchises the DS series (including the first real entry in the series Demons Souls on PS3, which if ANY game should get a re-visit and/or HD remaster for current gen consoles it should be that game lol). Anyway without veering too off topic, I think people will say "oh a 2D platformer rip off of Dark Souls" lol...I can name a few titles (half a dozen) that have already ripped off DS (and some did it quite well) ahem S&S, Trine 2, So Many Me among a few others.

Anyway, this game where it fails is the ACTUAL controls of your said-Slugcat...and how often your input is misinterpreted (jump UP ontop of the PIPE, not INSIDE it) which leads to you sliding to the other side of the pipe and beaten ripped apart by a multi-colored alligator. The controls (within the game world) & the utterly perplexing "sleep/hibernate" mechanic...which SOUNDS good on paper but in reality makes less sense in this "gated" open world experience. I love the idea of a OPEN world platformer (well I have to admit I am biased, I like open world GAMES it GTA V or Witcher 3, or the current Zelda) I like open world racing (Forza Horizon franchise) and I like the idea of open world meets our favorite classic 2D platformers. I mean super meat boy IN a giant enviroment vs gated/levels (like a traditional platformer ?) you know World 1, Level 1, a few secret levels, a few grab-me-collectibles, and you got the recipe for nearly every 2D twitch-gaming platforming. The Castlevania: Symphony of the Night & Metroid 2 titles are the REAL inspiration for Ori and the Blind Forest, Axiom Verge, Rogue Legacy, among many others (and that includes this very title here: Rain World) the developeres wanted a Metroidvania 2D open world survival post apocalyptic platformer (literally that was the exact definition Joar gave on several occasions), and on paper it sounds great...and it even looked great (so it was very re-affirming) I was excited, i touted the game on Facebook, messaged people, I posted on Joars personal page...gave him and his 5-member team a thumbs up for nearly 6 years of development...alot was riding on this game (for the team, and for fans like me who had been excited about the game in many ways MORE then any of the other games coming in 2016/2017.

For along time the game didn't have any info, the website was sparse, the kickstarter funds (which were about $63,000 total in 2012/2013). This was Joar's second project as lead developer & lead art designer (he really is talented) all that aside I remember Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Ryan Lobert (who had also been following the game since its early period) had said "the controls were off and need some tweaking, but the visual style, dynamic effects, soundtrack, and actual game world which includes 1,600 rooms spread across 12 regions with monsters that could follow you ANYWHERE in the game world, they have dynamic A.I which basically allows them to interact with each other, FIGHT each other, produce hatchlings/baby creatures, whom also grow up (you will see/can see generations of monsters, who flitter here & there ALL over the massive game world) it all sounded so great, so exciting...IF only they could fix the controls, the gated hibernation chamber-mechanic it wouldn't have been so punishing & miserable. This was intended to be a tough game (thats for sure) but its mainly punishing b/c its control/platforming mechanics fall flat on their face, unresponsive controls (something I feel given the time invested into this project should have been POLISHED far far more) THAT alone (if the controls had been much better, simpler/responsive, etc) this game could of easily received 7/10 or higher. Polygon's reviewer was ultra-harsh during her 30 hours of time invested and numerous loss of time due to control-failure. The exact development details as were: listed.

Prior to creating Rain World, Joar Jakobsson was a graphic designer in Sweden who taught himself how to animate sprites. He had played few games and had little industry experience[9] when development began in 2011.[7] He began with a sketch of an elongated cat, which was named "Slugcat" by one of his YouTube viewers, though the character has no official name. Jakobsson had previous interest in derelict environments, and what they tell about the humans who previously occupied them.[9] Partly inspired by his feelings of foreignness while living as an exchange student in Harford County, Maryland a core idea in the game's development was to recreate the life of "the rat in Manhattan". The rat that understands how to find food, hide, and live in the subway, but does not understand the subway's structuring purpose or why it was built.[7] Jakobsson and his development partner, James Primate, hoped that players would similarly feel as if they were close to making sense of the game's abstraction of an industrial environment without fully understanding.[9] Jakobsson designed the game's enemies to live their own lives, in which they hunt for food and struggle to survive, rather than serve as obstacles for the player. Enemy placements are randomly generated, and in the weeklong streamer test prior to release, the developers noted how some players became more or less interested in the game based on the luck of their enemy spawns.[7] The developers said that players would learn to prefer stealth over combat within several hours of play, as long as the player isn't found.[9]

Jakobsson served as the game's artist, designer, and programmer. His levels are hand-drawn in a standalone level editor. He drew repeated elements, such as plants and chains, using brushed filters on parts of the map.[9] At one point, the game included a multiplayer mode, and separate story and custom modes.[9] James Therrien (Primate) wrote the game's soundtrack, handled the indie studio's business,[9] and designed levels.[7]Rain World's music is low-fi and electronic. Primate wanted the music to approximate the game's eclectic visuals, which mix industrial, science fiction, jungle, and various architectural elements. The soundtrack also bore some of the storytelling load where the game lacked language. The early game sound is primitive and based on Slugcat's feelings of fear and hunger, and eventually builds to describe new areas.[9] The development team succesfully crowdfunded some development costs via Kickstarter in early 2014.[10]

The team announced that it was in the last phases of development in early 2016.[11] Animations from the game were popularized on social media in praise of their "uncanny fluidity".[3] The game was developed by Videocult, published by Adult Swim Games, and released for PlayStation 4 and Windows on March 28, 2017.[2] Previews compared Rain World to predecessors, including the difficulty of Super Meat Boy, the soundtrack of Fez,[9] and the puzzle-platforming to Metroid and Oddworld

sigh...if only he had succeeded...well theres always Sundered this July.

Avatar image for aiat_gamer

@Itzsfo0: Dude, no one is going to read this long essay, you need to boil it down to two paragraphs at best

Avatar image for smalwex

@aiat_gamer: Or at least add a TL;DR

Avatar image for perphektxero

5 says mediocre, but the reviewer doesn't sound like they think this game really was mediocre...

Avatar image for doom299

There are certain reviews people point to as a reason not to trust certain sites reviews. PC Gamer gave Dragon Age 2 a 10. You can tell the freelancer never even tried. IGN has had several but the Evolve Review 9 and the Alien: Isolation 5.9 are usually pointed too. These go beyond a different opinion to unprofessional stupidity. You could find comments to the reviews themselves that come off more professional.

Mass Effect Andromeda was not perfect, but it was no worse than a 7. Even if you hated the game personally you have to look beyond your feelings and look at things from a place of logic. Most reviewers agree with me there and on the score. So that review was iffy

But Rain World, is at least an 8 game. This review belongs in the hall of shame, just compare it to others as a whole. But the worst review ever on Gamespot was the Pillars of Eternity DLC. Not the game - they got that right.

But the DLC they gave a 5 if I remember correctly. You could tell the reviewer hated turn based games too. The moral is, just play games you are interested in and see if you like them. A handful of reviewer nerds do not speak for the rest of the gaming population. I do not use the term nerds to be offensive because I am one. But game site reviewers do not get a pass because they a paid professionals.

I only really visit game sites for the news, and stopped going to IGN because of the auto videos on the main page.

Avatar image for SinspaW

@doom299: It's stupid to only have reviewers review genres they already like. Sure that might be useful for the people who like that genre - then again these will probably make a more thorough investigation - but it's useless to the other general public who just want to know how that game stands on its own.

I do agree with the concept of having reviewers explicitly mention whether or not they are familiar with the genre, so at least we'll know where they're coming from.

Avatar image for perphektxero

@doom299: Are you aware of the term "subjective?"

I have very little left to do in Andromeda, I think a 6 is generous. I would have given it a 5. Bugs, glitches, and a average story turn the game into something to do to pass the time, but the experience will be forgettable.

And IGN is far worse with their convoluted, self-aggrandizing rating scale.

Avatar image for contentxcontext

cat , not rabbit

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@contentxcontext: Indeed. I don't think that Concepcion actually checked any of the official information about the game outside of the game itself. For one, the Steam page does officially mention that the creature is a "slugcat".

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

If this game was any popular, you would be seeing lazy "git gud" remarks here.

Avatar image for RogerioFM

@Gelugon_baat: gitgud scrub.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

Is there any reward to getting more food than is needed to survive a hibernation phase?

Avatar image for aiat_gamer

@Gelugon_baat: No.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@aiat_gamer: Then it would seem that hibernation serves little purpose other than gating the player's progress.

Avatar image for aiat_gamer

@Gelugon_baat: They just added the hibernation level requirement to make the game artificially harder and lengthen the game. It is just there to annoy. Imagine playing Dark Souls and not being able to save at the bonfire because you need to go and gather certain amounts of souls, and the enemies are placed randomly! This trying to mimic the Souls games difficulty is getting very tiring.

The sad thing is that the devs actually think they indeed have a great execution of a great concept and are sticking to it, they have truly wasted the potential of their game.

Avatar image for RaveNRolla

@aiat_gamer: Dude, random enemy placement (at least say in 1 level) would be AWESOME! i think it'd make that level very interesting.

Avatar image for BrunoBRS

damn, i was looking forward to this one, but these drawbacks are some really big nagging points i have with other games, i don't think i'd be able to look past them

Rain World More Info

  • First Released Mar 28, 2017
    • Macintosh
    • Nintendo Switch
    • + 2 more
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    Average Rating4 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Rain World
    Published by:
    Adult Swim, Limited Run Games
    Platformer, 2D, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Tobacco Reference