rain world

Released in 2017 as indie developer Video Cult's first game, Rain World is a survival platformer available on all mondern systems. You play as a creature known as a "slugcat" and you are just a small part of Rain World's ecosystem. Both predator and prey, you face a harsh environment and your main objective is simply to survive. The game is ever-changing and dynamic, and you must rely on wits and stealth rather than strength. The slugcat is not a very strong creature and is easily taken down, so you must choose your battles very wisely. You must find food to eat in order to hibernate and avoid the deadly downpour of rain. With a very bare-bones in-game guide, Rain World plays almost like an open world game. You carve out your own path in Rain World's ecosystem.

Rain World is known for its difficulty and often brutal, unforgiving gameplay. Although far from impossible, Rain World requires one part luck, one part skill, and one hell of a lot of perseverance. The game opens with the option to play one of two slugcats- Monk or Survivor- with Monk being the easier of the two. Upon comletion of the base campaign, a third slugcat is unlocked, Hunter, which offers a different campaign and an even harder difficulty. With the addition of the Downpour DLC, there are five more slugcats to play as, each with new stories and abilities. For new players, most encounters with hostile creatures will lead to a swift death, which makes the game a hard one to recommend. The game has almost no guide, a wide, sprawling map, and save points you must reach on a timer. However, if you're patient and ready for a long road ahead, I cannot recommend Rain World enough!

My Personal Experience

I tried Rain World out at the insistence of a friend, gave up after about 90 minutes, and didn't pick the game back up again. I decided to give it another try about a month and a half later, and instantly became hooked. I played Monk first, and beat the game in a week, clocking in at around 30 hours (embarrassing!). I've been super addicted since. I've beaten the Survivor campaign, and I'm working through Gourmand as of writing this. I've given Hunter and Artificer a try, but I haven't gotten very far. I'm a little surprised that I enjoy Rain World so much, since I'm not big on challenging games due to the fact that I'm just not very skilled at video games in general. But there's something about this silly slugcat game that has me coming back over and over again! Even if sometimes I get so mad I need to put the controller down.

I really love everything about this game- the story, the art, the music, and yes, even the gameplay. The friend who told me to play designed me a "slugsona" and even made me a custom model in game! It's really fun to play as my own custom character. Their name is Tailchaser and they're everything to me.


Rain World's gameplay, on the surface, is fairly simple. You can run, jump, crouch, and pounce; you can pick up items; you can throw rocks and spears; you can eat. Your main objective is just to survive the "cycle" (between 7 and 13 real time minutes) before the rain comes, and in order to do that, you need food to hibernate. Enemies generally kill you in one go if you get too close, with the most common enemy being brightly colored lizards that are found in almost every part of Rain World's map. You can throw a rock for a temporary stun, or a spear for damage, but the slugcat is not very strong, and you're much better off running. There's a little guide that shows you the general direction of where you should probably be going, but it's up to you to make your own path.

Rain World is one of those "guide yourself" games, which I personally enjoy, but can be pretty hit or miss for new players. The game really doesn't seem to have any objective besides "don't die," but just running around and doing things at my own pace in a fully blind playthrough was such a fun experience for me. Yes, it is one of those "use a wiki" games if you really want to understand how the mechanics of the enemies work, or see a full world map, but that kind of thing doesn't really bother me. One thing about Rain World's gameplay that really stuck out to me is the deceptively simple movement system. Rain World has some crazy movement tech that you can learn. I mean, 100+ page google doc movement tech guide crazy. I can do some pretty bare bones movement, like flips, rolls, slide pouncing, and boosting in/out/through tunnels, but everything else is lost on me. The slugcat flip is pretty wicked, though.

I think I would be doing a disservice if I didn't talk about Rain World's difficulty. I don't think Rain World is too hard, nor do I think it's overly punishing. Sure, it's frustrating, and makes me pretty damn mad sometimes, but the game has never felt impossible once I got past that initial hesitance of playing. Well... Unfortunate Development can blow me. THAT is impossible. Moving on...

Rain World is kind of like a failure sim, and it's something you just need to get used to. This game really isn't for everyone, and it isn't always skill based, either. Usually I don't like timed games, but I think Rain World has hit a sweet spot where the gameplay loop is short enough to be addictive, and when you die, you realistically only lose about 10 minutes of progress. It does take a special kind of patience, though, especially when you first start out. Even after 100 hours I still finding myself taking deep breaths and going on a little walk after a particularly devastating death.

I don't have much to say yet about the gameplay of the other campaigns, but I will say that it's damn impressive how much versatility Rain World has. Downpour is an absolutely insane addition, and between 7 different campaign playstyles, challenges, collectables, expeditions, and hell, even multiplayer, Rain World has so much playability and replayability that it makes my head spin. I think I could sink another 200 hours into this game, easily.


I can't really describe in words how enamored I am by Rain World's visuals. Please just take a look at the environments.

Rain World's character movement may look a little uncanny at first, and that's because it uses procedurally generated animation instead of a standard set of sprites. This means that the code chooses what movement comes next, instead of a set of looping animations or movements. It creates a really distinct and unique visual style that I absolutely adore. It also means that sometimes enemies just get caught in a loop of spinning in a circle, or bouncing up and down, which is sometimes funny and sometimes frustrating (depending on where that enemy is in comparison to you). I love the designs of all the creatures in this game, especially the slugcats and vultures. I think Rain World's procedural animation is one of the defining features of its visual style, and it's worth praising.

The pixel art backgrounds create an environment that's hauntingly beautiful; between the decayed machinery and the strange plant life, you get the sense that this is a long-dead world since reborn into something new. Rain World's environments have blown my mind and continue to do so. I am just so incredibly in love with the artwork in this game, in case you couldn't tell! I think the slugcat's size really helps to accentuate just how huge and unknowable this world really is. You're just a tiny, tiny piece of this world, and the structures that span multiple screens, up and down and left and right, really sell this. I feel like I don't have the words to describe how much I love Rain World's visual style!! It's really enraptured me in a way that few other games have.

My one complaint is about the in-game map- while it's very unique and dynamic, it also hurts my brain to look at and even after 100 hours I have trouble parsing it.


Rain World's soundtrack is incredible. Absolutely phenomenal. I love this game's OST to death.

While a game's OST does not make or break my enjoyment of a game by any means, I believe it has a big impact on my personal connection to a game and to its general impact on me. And boy oh boy has Rain World's soundtrack left a stamp on my heart. Rain World's OST was created primarily by James Primate, with a few tracks by Lydia Esrig. All of Rain World's OST is available online to listen. In this review I will be focusing on the main album, as well as a few standouts from the ambients and instrumentals album. I have not heard Downpour's OST in game, so I will not be covering that one!

You boot up Rain World to some ambient rain and thunder sound effects and hear Sundown- the first of four main themes of Rain World. It feels somber, a little mysterious, and always makes me feel a sense of emptiness. Rain World's other themes play in game, with 2 and 3 being character themes, and 4 being the ending theme. I'll go into a little bit more detail about these particular themes in the story section, but beware of spoilers.

Rain World is a game that keeps its cards- its music- hidden until absolutely necessary. The first thing that you'll notice about Rain World is that it's fairly quiet when you're on your own. Sure, the throwing of rocks and grabbing of bats makes some noise, but for the most part, there's no ambient music. That is... until you get moving. Rain World's music plays, generally speaking, in one of two scenarios- either you have entered a new area, or there is an enemy nearby. Each area features its own "threat" theme and they are all phenomenal. Each track picks up slowly, layering on more and more instrumentals the closer you get to the threat... Or, in most cases, the closer it gets to you. I absolutely ADORE the dynamic threat themes in Rain World. It adds so much incredible tension to the game and really makes you feel like there's a threat nearby.

If you're interested in what this sounds like, here is a version of the first threat theme, Outskirts, split into its layers with helpful timestamps. I'd highly recommend checking it out! I especially love how each threat theme has an additional layer of crunchy white noise for vultures, which look like they're emitting steam when they swoop in.

The other most notable places that music plays in Rain World is when you first enter an area. I absolutely love it when the area themes kick in! It makes you finally feel like the main character in a game that most of the time does not. Personally, it really adds to my own sense of wonder and love of exploration. It feels really rewarding to finally get your karma up enough and get through that gate you were struggling with and be met with the new theme music. It's far from triumphant, but those little moments with the music are what makes the game really special to me.

Besides its fantastic OST, I don't have much to say about its general sound design. The lizards hiss and snap, the centipedes make that awful skittering sounds, and the vultures... well, they swoop. I particularly love the sound of throwing a rock at a wall. 10/10, very satisfying.

My favorite tracks off Rain World's OST are Random Gods (Theme III) and Emotion Thread, with Deep Light (Theme IV), Threat - Sky Islands, Threat - Farm Arrays, and Bio-Engineering not far behind.

I mentioned Sundown at the beginning, and I figured I should mention it at the end, too. The leitmotifs from this song can be heard in Pictures of the Past, Moondown (Theme II), Random Gods (Theme III), Emotion Thread, and Deep Light (and maybe somewhere else I haven't noticed yet). There's something to say about beginnings and endings, chance and fate... But perhaps that's a tangent for another time.


Rain World's story is... subtle, to say the least. It's definitely one of those games that you have to watch a 1 hour "Rain World Lore" Youtube video if you want the full story. I have yet to uncover all of RW's mysteries and lore, so this will only cover what I've personally found so far!

PLEASE NOTE: This section covers heavy spoilers for Rain World's Monk and Survivor campaigns, as well as other story detail spoilers. Read at your own risk!

Rain World really shines in its environmental storytelling. You live in a long dead world, its former inhabitants gone for so long that a new world has begun to grow overtop it. Constantly you see machinery, incredible structures, feats of technology- all dilapidated and dead, crumbling from the forces of time and nature. You see great murals and paintings and writings on the wall, but no words you can read, no meanings you can make out. This is not the slugcat's world. This is simply the world you've come to exist in.

Other than the slugcat, Rain World's two other characters give you little hints of the "story," but these little bits are often difficult to obtain. Looks to the Moon (aka Moon) is generally the first of the two characters players are expected to meet. It's where the little guide takes you. But when you arrive to Moon... Nothing happens. She buzzes and whirrs but you can't understand her- of course you can't, you're just a little slugcat! So it's back from whence you came, wandering endlessly... Until you get guided up and up and up to meet Five Pebbles.

The construction of both Five Pebbles character and his environment are just phenomenal to me. You make your way through this weird maze of zero gravity rooms and tubes with big zappers and the flying things that Moon had around her. I absolutely love the section of the game where you move through the Five Pebbles area to meet him. Because the area is him: Five Pebbles is a massive supercomputer, and you're swimming through his brains. Once you really get to meet him, he squeaks and buzzes just like Moon did, throws strange pictures your way, tries all different methods of communication (I love this bit, how he tries multiple languages) and then FINALLY you really get to understand him! Pebbles' clear distain for the slugcat was really amusing to me on my first playthrough. He gives you a vague, confusing monologue about this and that, and then tells you to go east and down. So you do.

This ending had me slack jawed. I would have never in a hundred years predicted how this game ends. The ending sequence is so, SO fantastic and, at least to me, so impactful.

Rain World ends with you ascending. No, really. Your slugcat dives into.. something, I dunno, sees this huge... something... and then ascends from the mortal plane of existence. When you play as Monk, you meet your older sibling, Survivor, who you've been looking for this whole time, and you're wide eyed, reaching out to him, but he doesn't look back at you. This broke my heart into about a thousand little pieces. It feels to me as though this ending is not what Monk wanted. It sure as hell doesn't feel like a happy ending to me, that's for sure. Yeah, you're reunited, in a way, but Survivor never looks back at you, never even realizes you're there. In fact, Survivor never even knows that Monk has gone on this incredible quest to come look for him. This is just my personal interpretation of the ending, but wow does it hurt.

I really adore Rain World's worldbuilding and subtle storytelling. From the strange, biomechanical creatures to the harsh weather to the broken down machinery in the distance, Rain World's setting has really captivated me in a way that few other games have. I haven't collected all of the colored pearls yet, but the tidbits I've gotten about the iterators trying to solve the cycle of death and rebirth is so cool to me. You don't see the story of the iterators, or the ancients, just what's left of them, through little messages left behind. The relationship between Moon and Pebbles really breaks my heart.

All in all, I'll be thinking about Rain World's story for a long time to come.

closing thoughts

I was really blown away by this game in ways I really didn't expect. I am STILL blown away by this game! I'm slowly working my way through the Downpour campaigns and I'm already really enjoying them (difficulty aside...). I adore every part of Rain World. Yes, even the difficulty.

This game has become firmly one of my favorite games of all time. Please go check it out if you're up for the challenge.