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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. It's 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, but there's a strange beauty to it all.
  • 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.
  • Antepiece: If you follow the observer, the game makes extensive use of these to teach you essential survival skills.
    • The first area doesn't have any rain come until you're right next to a shelter, so you can Take Your Time learning the Slugcat's controls, how to hunt bat-flies, and eat fruit to survive.
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    • When you are introduced to the rain, you are right next to a shelter, so you can immediately learn where you should go when you can see the earthquake that indicates that the rain is coming. In addition, a curious player can witness the effects of the rain both outside and inside (crushing rain and flooding respectively) with relative safety.
    • To teach you how Scavengers value pearls, the first 2 times you need them (getting past a Scavenger Toll and buying a lantern respectively), you are able to find a free pearl close-by.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The observer (aka the small 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. Following it also takes you on the easiest path through the game.
    • The game keeps a fairly accurate map as you play, and places blue blips where food might located whenever you spawn into a cycle.
    • You are never more than four-to-five rooms away from a shelter at any given time. As mentioned above, the observer will point you towards the nearest shelter if rain is about to come.
    • If you can get to the Depths with maximum Karma unlocked, but are currently not at maximum Karma (something likely to happen considering the hell that is the Filtration System), you can enter a room immediately inside the Depths which will automatically boot you up to the maximum Karma rank. This makes it so that entering the Depths, which is the Point of No Return, does not result in an Unwinnable by Design scenario for the player.
  • Apocalypse How: Implied Class 4 or 5. Humans (or whatever dominant species used to live on this world) managed to find out about the cycle of reincarnation inherent in all life and accidentally "broke it" somehow, causing everything on the planet to be trapped in a cycle of life and death while they Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence. Their last gift was setting up "iterators" all over the planet to give the evolving life a chance to ascend as well.
  • 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 two of them, though it won't be easy to get to their respective facilities. Looks to the Moon is hidden in the far right side of Shoreline, while Five Pebbles resides in his own facility high into the clouds.
  • 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. Your ultimate goal is to follow in their foot steps after maxing out your karma - strange creatures called guardians will chase you away once you reach the end of the game otherwise.
  • A World Half Full: A downplayed and very long winded version, but it's implied that all three difficulties take place in the same timeline, with Hunter going through their journey first and Monk going last. That means that over time, the world is becoming less dangerous, and ascension becomes easier.
  • 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. They deal in white pearls, and can be traded for items, safe passage through their tollbooths, or a free weapon depending on who you give it to.
  • 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.
  • Bookends: The game's opening scene. The game's closing scene .
  • Benevolent A.I..: Looks to the 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.
  • Blackout Basement: The majority of the appropriately named Shaded Citadel is nearly pitch-black in shadow, forcing the player to find some source of light to move through any predators lurking in the dark there.
  • 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: The game uses these in leu of traditional ability gates seen in other Metroidvanias.
    • 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.
    • A more straightforward example is Scavenger Tolls; you will need to give a pearl to the Scavenger tribe there to be granted passage. Try to pass through without providing a pearl, and they will attack you.
  • 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 lizards have the most HP, but are slow and only have basic mobility.
    • Pink lizards are the first lizards that 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 stronger, and they can camouflage.
    • Yellow lizards 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.
    • Salamanders live and hunt the best in water. They also have short tongues.
    • Red lizards can stun you with spit and won't stop chasing you until they die. Thankfully they only spawn after a certain amount of other lizards have been killed.
    • Cyan lizards often boost themselves towards prey, in addition to wall climbing and tongue usage.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Slugcat is encouraged to be this in order to survive, and every creature operates on this trope thanks to their Artificial Brilliance. For example, predators might leave Slugcat alone if it can hand them some food or can kill something in the vicinity for the creature to take. A vulture would rather prioritize the corpse of a lizard than go after the nimble slugcat, for instance. Since certain creatures get temporarily stunned if a spear can lodge itself in their torso, it's also possible to stunlock enemies to death.
  • 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.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The slugcat has a ton of difficult to perform moves, like slides and backflips, that can be used to gain a tactical edge on his predators or otherwise assist with exploration. Mastering these moves can turn the initially slow and plodding slugcat into an absolute terror on the battlefield as you leap and duck around your opponents.
    • As for specific moves, the downward throw can be an exceptionally useful tool. Not only does it chuck a spear straight down, but it can pin enemies to the ground and either give you the chance to escape or follow up with successive spear throws. It can also be used in exploration to create miniature poles to stand on, giving you a little extra height to reach out-of-the-way paths and allowing you to jump over predators easier. Reaching certain midgame shelters requires using this technique, so master it as soon as you can.
    • The Hunter demands this playstyle to be engaged with, as you have a stark 20 cycles to finish the game and primarily dine on large predators rather than plants, meaning you better be keenly aware of how slugcat can function in combat or die. Becoming a solid hunter means you get access to a bunch of excellent tools, like being able to store spears, consume predators for tons of food points, a pearl in his stomach, and a useful green neuron fly that can be instantly used to reboot Looks-To-The-Moon to full power. As a downside, his karma is incredibly low and due to being "karmically imbalanced" he cannot gain the maximum karma expansion from Five Pebbles and thus must search for Echoes if he wishes to ascend. Plus, it's freaking awesome to tear the predators hounding you to shreds with spears and rocks.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Playing as Monk removes the ability to have Looks to the Moon read backstory tidbits from pearls, cutting off access to a large chunk of the world's story.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Several. Though the extremely disconcerting creature found in the void sea at the end of the game is a stand out even by the typical examples of this trope.
  • 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.
  • Eternal Engine: The majority of the world's regions take place in factories, but most of them don't function anymore. Except for the built-to-last Five Pebbles subregion, although even then, the entire area is on the verge of shutting down.
  • Fake Difficulty: The slugcat has a large repertoire of moves at his disposal, but the player is only told about a handful of them and expected to learn the rest through experimentation. While some, like the backflip and the slide, might be learned during the course of natural play, more complex moves like downward spear chucking and slide flipping likely will not. What turns this into Fake Difficulty and not merely Guide Dang It! is that some of these advanced moves are important for traversing certain areas.
  • Fantastic Nirvana: The Precursors became so advanced that they managed to find a way to achieve a state of nirvana free from the pains of reincarnation. In fact, they actually left behind a door to it so lesser beings like Slugcat can find it. It's not actually a door, but a secluded underwater area where a great beast swims around and the only way to enter is to let it eat you. However, unlike all the other predators in the game, it doesn't cause another death, and does indeed allow Slugcat's spirit into a paradise where they're reunited with their family. Similar endings happen with all the Slugcats, where after they get eaten, they briefly swim along with the many other Slugcat spirits before arriving to this paradise, with the only exception of red Hunter slugcat, who can't keep up with the other spirits and sinks deeper into the abyss where a mysterious being seems to catch them.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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, from other players, or through experimentation. The game does give solid enough directions to complete it by following the Observer's directions and exploring, but it's still very easy to get lost or blunder into a region you're not prepared to take on.
  • 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.
  • New Game+: Two variants. The first is a "hard mode" that can be done on a second playthrough by playing as the carnivorous Hunter Slugcat. The second is an optional secondary way to complete the game. Rather than making your way into Five Pebbles, gaining the Mark of Communication and heading down to Subterranean as intended, you can also raise your maximum karma by visiting different Echoes throughout the game world. Raising your maximum karma to 10 this way grants you the "Pilgrimage" achievement and will likely force you into areas you've never been to on the main game path. Since a player will likely have no idea how to actually finish the game until the end of the first playthrough (let alone knowing the trip through Five Pebbles is technically optional) this is an intended "second" way to play through the game.
  • 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, not to mention shuffling creatures around. 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!).
  • Permadeath: The Hunter can suffer this if you don't finish the game within 20 cycles. Upon reaching 0 cycles, the Hunter begins to have seizure-like spasms and moves at a reduced speed. Any deaths while under 0 cycles will result in the run being over.
  • 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.
  • Polluted Wasteland: The Garbage Wastes, with their sickly green water and buzzing flies fit this trope perfectly.
  • Primal Fear: The game practically runs on this. To start, nearly every enemy is out to eat you, most likely alive, and many of them are essentially monstrous versions of known unpleasant animals such as bugs, spiders, squids, reptiles, leeches or vultures. There are multiple dark and claustrophobic areas. And you have to constantly scavenge for food lest you starve.
  • Precursors: The Ancients. You get to meet them too when you get a special upgrade!
  • Sea Monster: At the Shoreline, you can sometimes encounter an enormous worm/serpent creature called the Leviathan. It's one of the deadliest creatures in the game, capable of consuming just about anything- even vultures!
  • Timed Mission: The Hunter has a terminal illness plaguing it. It starts the game with 19 cycles of being healthy, and can have 5 more tacked on if you know where to look, but once those are up it begins to suffer seizures and penalties to its statistics, and if you're killed after the counter hits zero, your save file is rendered unplayable.
  • 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.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Eating one of Looks to the Moon's neurons will anger her Overseers, who will then cease guiding you. In an interesting subversion of this, if you work to bring some neuron flies back to her, Moon will eventually forgive you. She outright states once you have the Mark of Communication that it's hard to blame you because, well, you're a speechless animal who doesn't know right from wrong.
  • Warp Whistle: Surprisingly, exists in the game. Less surprisingly, it's enabled by a limited use item unlocked by completing achievements.