Get the Full Ecosystem with Rain World

By Ben Hamill - September 11 2015


Rain is a highly original game that puts you deep underground, foraging for food and trying desperately to avoid others who might be bigger and stronger and just as hungry. The world outside has been rendered unlivable because of intense rains, which continue sporadically. Under the subways, you take the role of a white slugcat, which is a rat-like creature that is made for the underground world that is being created as you play. You can help some of the other creatures, like the frogs and others that are fit for the underground world. Bigger creatures also lurk, and you need to avoid their grasp because they are out for food. All the while, keep an eye out for dry periods that allow you to venture above ground where it might be safer and food more abundant.

While burrowing through the underground in the shape of a small slugcat may not sound like the adventure of a lifetime. But in reality, Rain World is a game that’s as intricate as it is subtle. The creatures move with style and with purpose, and there is no wasted effort taking place as every living creature has its eyes caste on the next meal. And that meal may be you if you are too slow to respond to your environment or too hesitant to take advantage of the opportunities that you have. So as you get used to the shifts that are constantly taking place, you start to feel as sense of scale all around you, and it only gets bigger and bigger. And soon you realize that you are part of a much larger world, and what you do effects that world, for better or for worse.

An Ecosystem Comes to Life on an Epic Scale

After you’ve moved through the different screens a few times and learned your way around to a point where you feel comfortable in your environment, you start to realize that what makes Hard Rain so compelling is that the entire ecosystem is there all at once, and all you have to do is pay attention to what’s taking place. And as you move from screen to screen, you start to realize that Hard Rain is thoroughly modern game, especially when it comes to size. There are already more than 600 rooms to explore, and it remains to be seen if more will be added before the game is released to the public some time in the coming year.

But even more astounding than the size of the world you inhabit is the effect you have on that world. When you eat a creature, it is no longer there, in that world. And if you eat all or much of a particular species, that species doesn’t just disappear. Just like in the real world, the absence of a species effects the rest of the ecosystem, in that there is a hole that will never be mended. That creature played a role that was bigger than simply serving as food for you and other creatures. It also did things that will no longer be done, and you experience that on the level of the ecosystem.

The Dry Part of the Year

Those effects go well beyond the extinction of a particular creature. The game recognizes when you’re doing good things and when you are doing bad things. And if you stop to help a frog or some other creature, there is a good chance that the creature will remember the help you game and pay you back. And if you harm a creature, there is an equal chance that the creature will look to get some level of revenge. The environment changes constantly according to your movements, so that every time you play, the lay of the land will be different. And always keep looking over your shoulder because there is nothing that’s as appealing to some elements within the game as a slugcat waiting to be eaten.

In the final analysis, Rain World has the potential to turn into an addictive game that gives you much more than the enjoyment of playing. But keeping the entire ecosystem moving throughout the game, you can’t help but improve your sense of what’s happening in other parts of the game world that could be useful to you, or even threatening to you. That creates a sense of something bigger going on throughout the game. And if a video game can widen your horizons and make you think in terms of an ecosystem rather than just an isolated incident that’s disconnected with the rest of reality, it has achieved something special. But just how well it succeeds remains to be seen when the full game is released to the public.