Ayo: A Rain Tale is one of those games that seeks to go beyond what we expect of video games. Beyond the interactive entertainment element is a sense of meaning and education. It tells the story of Ayo’s plight to fetch clean, reliable drinking water for her family. The real life statistics in relation to the accessibility of safe drinking water in Sub-Saharan Africa would shock gamers, hell it would shock anybody. So to see this game take on a real and meaningful journey gives a lot of impact to your playing experience and is very commendable for raising awareness.
“While the game initially introduces itself as a simple sidescroller… you soon get plunged into the depths of the Earth and find some fiendishly clever puzzles”
The gameplay in Ayo: A Rain Tale is solid. While the game initially introduces itself as a simple sidescroller with vast real life vistas, you soon get plunged into the depths of the Earth and find some fiendishly clever puzzles. I would like to commend Inkline on a couple of these in particular, I saw the fail screen a few more times than I care to admit.
The art style is also gorgeous. I loved the introductory animation, and the same style comprises the enemies, environment and Ayo herself as you play. It lends itself well to the rite of passage style adventure that Ayo embarks upon in order to claim respect (and water) from Ja, the thunderstorm bull. I really liked the transition from real life to the mystical as well, being the fantasy nut that I am.
Something in particular I would like to note is that the powers you accrue along the way, with thanks to the Asili twins, are gifted to you from seemingly native animal totems / spirits. I loved this. In relation to one ability in particular, you are wreathed in the outline of its image every time you activate it. A great touch of inspiration, and definitely worth considering for future titles.
Also, lava / poison surfing on giant boulders – brilliant. Another simple touch (though I bet the physics didn’t come easy) that made me smile.
For me there were a few drawbacks for the game though. There was a somewhat clunky / sticky grab mechanic that took a bit of getting used to in order to fall from ledges. There was also a bit of camera lag when it came to tracking movement. This resulted in a few accidental deaths with scorpions as the stingers weren’t visible with enough time to dodge them. One of the bigger issues was that the game sometimes felt slow. Some actions took a long time to perform and falling off cliffs was an insta-death, which may make sense since Ayo is flesh and bones but I also really wanted to use this as a shortcut. At times it felt like the game could use a little fast forward.
Entertaining and Educational
The debut title from Inkline studios is a great first game with only a few minor drawbacks. I feel like these will be easily learned from and thwarted in subsequent titles. The controls aren’t difficult, yet the application of them does take a bit of practice, and this is a development art-form in and of itself.