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Video Game / Rain World

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A cute little protagonist for a brutal game

Rain World is a 2017 survival platformer developed since 2011 by Videocult and published on Steam by [adult swim] for PC, PS4 and Linux. Set in an abandoned industrial environment ravaged by a shattered ecosystem.

Bone-crushingly intense rains pound the surface, making life as we know it almost impossible. The creatures in this world hibernate most of the time, but in the few brief dry periods they go out in search of food.

You are a nomadic slugcat, both predator and prey in this land. You must hunt enough food to survive another cycle of hibernation. Other — bigger — creatures have the same plan. The goal of the game is to reunite with your family.

Gameplay can be described as a Cinematic Platform Game with Survival Horror elements in a Metroidvania style map. The main gimmick is the ecosystem of the world, which is highly reactive and nonscripted. For starters, the game is segmented into "dry seasons" when the titular rain stops, forcing the player to return to shelter with enough food in stock to properly hibernate and survive. In addition, the game is further divided up into nonlinear "regions" rather than one cohesive map. To move forward, the player must accumulate enough "Karma" by successfully surviving regions enough times, and in doing so can move on.


The game provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Laboratory: Where Moon and Pebbles are living.
  • After the End: Humans are nowhere to be found, monsters are roaming the place, and vast industrial architecture is decaying around you, it's pretty beautiful though.
  • A God Am I: Five Pebbles refers to himself as one, in comparison to the creatures roaming the world, you included. Granted that his powers and level of consciousness are pretty much out of this world.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Five Pebbles drained massive amounts of water from the region/continent/planet in order to sustain the facility he's housed in, which causes the deadly rains you encounter, since the water evaporates and gets released into the atmosphere, said drainage nearly killed Big sister Moon.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The little yellow worm that follows you around will periodically point toward the path you need to take to progress the story, or toward the closest safe room should you be a few minutes away from the rain, unless you're low on food in which case it'll try to lead you to some.
  • Artificial Brilliance: There's some fine examples of well-designed AI in this game.
    • Most creatures will start to become frightened and will flee when near-death, albeit slowly due to being crippled.
    • Lizards have a "rivalry system" of sorts whereby two lizards near each other will gradually get more and more annoyed with each other and eventually will fight to assert dominance. The differing lizard types even have different rates of getting annoyed, with green lizards being by far the most territorial, even showing with them being the only lizard type who will stand and fight a vulture.
    • Orange/yellow lizards are very good at surrounding you and seem to even have a "leader" in every pack, frightening said leader off can cause the whole pack to lose cohesion.
    • Vultures can be unmasked, and doing so will cause them to aggressively hunt you down over the next few cycles, unlike other enemies who won't show up again for the most part after a cycle or two. Unmasked vultures are additionally "bullied" by masked vultures. Additionally, the mask can be worn by the slugcat, and this will garner the respect of the Scavengers and will frighten most lizards away.
    • The number of Enemy Mine situations occurring in the game can actually lead to you befriending otherwise hostile creatures, along with feeding them. They'll even follow you around and fight with you, even sleeping in shelters with the slugcat.
    • The tentacled blob-things are very good at fishing through tunnels with their tentacles to try and snatch the slugcat, though they're not quite intelligent enough to stop doing so after you've speared said tentacles enough times.
    • On the whole, a species of creature may eventually come to see the slugcat as The Dreaded if you kill enough of them, and will visibly panic and try to run, especially if the slugcat is armed.
  • Artificial Gravity: Or manipulation of gravity, in the game's more technological areas.
  • Artificial Intelligence: You can meet to of them, though it won't be easy by a long stretch to get to their respective facilities.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The Echos of the Ancients you meet are a result of botched ascendance procedure, members of the civilization whose ruins the game takes place in. Apparently, the members of the ruined civilization attempted to break the cycle of reincarnation by ascending/transcending material existence, using something called Void Fluid. However, if a person had too many vices, or was especially arrogant, it would get stuck between this world and the next.
  • Beautiful Void: For a human, the deserted landscapes would be this, for you, it is a Death World.
  • Befriending the Enemy: Lizards can be tamed if fed enough flies (2-3 does the job). Also, you can do very basic trade with Scavengers, got a silver pearl? Here's a weapon, or free passage to beyond our territory.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In a spiritual sense, you have reunited with your family. In a literal sense, you have left this world behind. Then again the last region of the game feels pretty surrealist and can be open to various interpretations.
  • Book-Ends: The game's opening scene. The game's closing scene .
  • Benevolent A.I..: Big sister Moon after you get the ability to understand AI and/or Human speech turns out rather nice and is willing to share the lore of the world with you, provided you bring her the relevant items which she can decrypt for you. Five Pebbles on the other hand...
    • Also, if you don't harm Moon, there is an adorable hibernation image of her and Slugcat watching each other curiously.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Averted. Lizards have armored heads, so you're going to have to aim for the body if you want to deal damage.
  • Cash Gate / Forced Level-Grinding: A weird example. The player levels up every cycle they survive, and levels down every time they die (unless they eat a special flower). The game is divided into several regions, and passing between them requires you to be above a certain level. If the player has thoroughly explored an area but doesn't have the level required to move on (a likely occurrence given the game's crushing difficulty), they're forced to spend one or more cycles trekking already-explored territory leveling up. Food usually respawns after 2 or so cycles, so it becomes an exercise of memorizing where it spawns, then finding the best path to get it while avoiding enemies.
    • Note that the game does not save between regions. If you pass through a gate to a new region and then die before finding a save point, you'll be stuck in the old region if this drops your level below the required number.
  • Check-Point Starvation: Hibernation chambers, which serve as your checkpoints, are far between, and often off the main path.
    • In a more literal take on that trope, entering an hibernation chamber with less than 4 units of food will cause you to die of starvation.
  • Chest Monster: There are carnivorous plants disguised as normal poles. Grab them and you'll get dragged underground. They can be used as traps if you lure enemies onto them.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The lizards. Depending on their colours they have different abilities.
    • Green ones have the most HP, but are slow and only have basic mobility.
    • Pink/Purple lizards can climb poles.
    • Blue lizards can climb background scenery and have a short-range tongue attack.
    • White lizards have the same abilities as blue ones, but their tongues are MUCH longer, and they can camouflage.
    • Yellow/Orange lizards can climb poles and hunt in packs, they will split to try and corner you.
    • Black lizards are blind, but will locate you based on the noise you make.
    • Red lizards can climb poles and won't stop chasing you until they die. Thankfully they only spawn after a certain amount of other lizards have been killed.
  • Crapsack World: Humanity has died out? Check. Quasi-permanent deadly weather? Check. Almost every sentient beings in the world are out to kill each other? Double Check.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: So, so averted. Dying undoes all of your progress for the day, lowers your karma rank (which is how you progress to new areas, see Forced Level-Grinding), and shuffles the enemies around.
  • Emergent Gameplay: A crowning example, and ingame this trope is almost enforced. The game tells you absolutely nothing about how it's mechanics work outside of the controls, leading to the player discovering things on their own. This is taken Up to Eleven with the creature A.I, which is complicated enough to have a serious amount of variety and possible tactics depending on the creature.
  • Going Cosmic: From the beginning, the game is about survival, and hopefully finding back your family, then you meet omniscient AIs, gods, and find yourself on the path to achieve transcendence. Near the end of the game some cosmic dragon leads you to the souls of your kin. Any questions?
  • Fake Difficulty:
    • A lot of reviewers felt that Karma + Trial-and-Error Gameplay = this trope.
    • The designers seem to have had an almost pathological obsession with giving players as little information as possible, and then punishing them for not having it anyway. From basic controls like wall jumping or back flipping (that are never explained to the player), to Puzzle Boss like enemies that only appear in areas of absolute darkness (where their behaviors cannot be observed and learned from), to a whole etiquette system that allows players to trade with and even befriend certain enemies (multi-step processes where making a misstep often means death, and can only be learned through trial and error), to simple aversions of quality-of-life tropes like Sound of No Damage, and more besides, the game expects the player to learn all its mechanics on their own, without providing the necessary information to learn them in the first place, and usually punishes mistakes with swift death.
    • In addition, the game's AI-driven ecosystem can sometimes blindside the player, or not perform as needed to progress, killing them (karma loss and all) through no fault of their own.
  • Warp Whistle: Surprisingly, exists in the game. Less surprisingly, it's enabled by a limited use item unlocked by completing achievements.
  • Fission Mailed: An unusual take on that trope. After most enemies kill you and the Game Over appears, they'll start dragging your body back to their nest. Should the player just wait, there is a chance that another creature fights with your killer over your body, and that you end up getting dropped from their mouth. Should that happen, the Game Over disappears and you re-take control of your character, allowing you to continue playing as if you were never killed.
  • Guide Dang It!: The game takes less than 5 minutes to stop holding the player's hand. After that, the almost complete lack of text, clear feedback, or explanations of any sort means that players will discover most game mechanics by looking it up online, or from other players.
  • Humanity's Wake: Humans are simply gone, without any explanation. The world has been taken over by bizarre descendants of today's species which fight for survival in a hostile world. Not all is bleak, since at least two species - Slugcats and Scavengers, posses the intelligence and social cohesion to form tribes and use tools.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Eaten by bigger animals, eaten by carnivorous plants, drowned by leeches, electrocuted, mauled by the rain, fell into a bottomless pit, and every variations of the above...
  • Metroidvania: The game boasts a whopping 1600 rooms to explore, divided between several regions. Although unlike in most Metroidvania, exploration is done at a much slower pace due to how fragile you are, and the time limit of every cycles.
  • Nintendo Hard: Death means not only losing all your progress since your last hibernation (including any map updates), but losing some karma which is required to move between game regions. The old-school game design choices aim to improve the player not based on his character leveling up, but on their understanding of the game, though the game doesn't want to make even that easy (see Fake Difficulty and Guide Dang It!).
  • Perpetual Storm: Almost. Every season, a drought of about 20 minutes occurs, during which the phases of gameplay take place. The player can keep track of how long until the storm restarts by checking the rain clock on the map screen. As the rain starts hitting the ground, the screen starts shaking and the lights grow dim. Water level rises by many screens, and in places exposed to the sky, the downpour will stun the player that tries to move through it. Should the player fail to reach a safe house before the main of the storm arrives, which takes about a minute, the player instantly dies, no matter where he is. It can be assumed that even if the player manages to find a place safe from the rain/water, the drop in temperature caused by the nearby flowing water will cause death by hypothermia.
  • The Precursors: The Ancients. You get to meet them too when you get a special upgrade!
  • Polluted Wasteland: Garbage wastes are this to a T.
  • Sea Monster: At the Shoreline, you can sometimes encounter an enormous worm/serpent creature, naturally it will eat you in a gippy if you stray too close.
  • Tone Shift: See Going Cosmic
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Though less about figuring out the exact sequence of moves to make in any situation, like many examples, and more with figuring out the mechanics themselves, which are often obtuse. "Why did those masked monkeys kill me?" "Is this species of red-tinged plant going to eat me, be explosive, or give me a rich source of food?" "I hit that lizard in the head, why didn't it die?" Well, the only way to find out is to try again. Or look it up on the wiki.

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