Rain World was initially released in 2017 and remains a cult hit to this day. It is a difficult 2D survival platformer game where the greatest barrier to entry was just working out what on earth is going on in the weird posited world. Almost six years later, with the fresh release of DLC Downpour, bringing more quality of life and content, I finally took the plunge. I’m glad I did, and I think others nowadays will be too. On offer is some of the toughest but most engaging and rewarding action platforming out there.
In Rain World, players control what is known as a slug cat. A four-legged creature with perky ears and a slippery body used for moving through small passageways, vents and up and over other obstacles. There’s not too much button input, with much of the movement coming from you working with the hard-to-master (but rewarding if you get there) physics. Manipulating an analog stick with a certain means combined with a press of the jump button can see you hopping, flipping, long jumping, and more about the environment. Other than that, there’s a button used for picking up and also discarding objects (spears, rocks and the like will be your weapons and remain solely throwable) and one for consuming food.
You’re situated in a post-apocalyptic world. Over 1600 rooms await your exploration across 12 regions. Each comes detailed with pixel art that is immensely detailed and none of it is randomly generated. Deep underground sewers, industrial buildings that mesh with nature and more are just some of the sights you’ll see and it’s up to you to learn the secrets and story of this world. Players can find nests to shelter away in and make the time pass, largely useful to avoid the periodic event of heavy, devastating rainfall that will kill you with sheer devastation the second it hits. In this transition between periods, you’ll see brief cutscenes, sparse with symbols and striking imagery, further leaving players confused but intrigued about what on Earth is going on.
Meters will also tick up as you progress, not really ever apparent (at least at first) what they are telling. Does this mean you are doing well or some tragedy is about to occur in the apocalyptic unknown? Only time and exploration will tell.
When it was first released, Rain World got some mixed reviews, and I can only imagine that is due to the vague and time-sink nature of the game. I can also surmise that time-sink is the name of the game due to its now blossoming mod community and Very Positive rating on Steam, with recent reviews such as one that reads “the game beats your balls so much that you eventually begin to like it.” The Downpour DLC comes as both a thank you to the community, adding more zones and content and officially adding local co-op for all three campaigns. Though, it’s also finally letting more in. Clearer hints and tips will appear periodically to players, allowing them to further understand the world. This is but a welcome change compared to the otherwise abstract nature.
Whether it’s tackling giant lizards or insects, or tripping and stumbling into some of the best environmental storytelling you’ll ever find in games, Rain World is thriving. It finally clicks for me and I’m so glad I’ve dived in with someone else that’s incredibly familiar with the experience to show me the ropes. I’m excited about the great unknown.
Rain World and its essential Downpour DLC are available now on PC.