Tuesday, March 3, 2015

SitRep: Rain World (PAX build)

Title: Rain World
Developer: Videocult
Platforms: PC, Mac
Releasing Summer 2015 (Steam)
I've written about Rain World four times on my blog. I participate in the game's devlog regularly and update the Rain World thread on NeoGAF. Suffice to say, I'm a big fan and can say, without a doubt, that it's my most anticipated indie game. So after following Rain World's progress for months, I was very excited to finally play the latest build, which will be available at PAX and soon for Kickstarter backers.
First a refresher: Rain World is a platformer with a focus on stealth, exploration, atmosphere, and AI. It's set in a world once inhabited by some intelligent civilization; now only the local ecosystem roams and thrives in the weathered, ruined industrial landscape. You play as a slugcat, a lithe agile creature, both predator to the fluttering bats that migrate throughout the world, and prey to the beasts that hunt you such as deadly lizards and terrifying alien vultures. Rain batters the surface periodically, crushing and killing everything, so between downpours, you need to leave your den and gather food while evading and dealing with predators. Rain World's procedural animations and atmospheric visuals bring this struggle for survival to life.
The PAX build consists of four regions out of a planned twelve: the overgrowth-choked rooms of Suburban, the dank water-logged tunnels of Drainage System, the rusted machinery of Heavy Industrial, and the open spaces and heights of Chimney Canopy. Lizards roam the lower regions, leeches swarm in the sewer water, and vultures rule the skies around the canopy. Your goal in this build is simple: explore, eat bats, and return to your shelter before the rain comes.
Visually, Rain World has progressed massively since the early screenshots and videos seen on the game's Kickstarter page over a year ago. This alien world feels alive, as shadows shift across the background, water drips from above, and the sky rumbles. The game's ecosystem cements the atmosphere. Each lizard looks unique, with different body sizes, spines, ridges, tail turfs, and each species reacts to each other and to your slugcat in their own unique way. White lizards blend into the environment, surprising you with their chameleon-like tongue, while heavy green lizards charge forward with unexpected speed. Blue lizards scale walls and ceilings and pink lizards chase you down relentlessly.
Enter a room and you might see lizards of the same species fighting for dominance or hunting another lizard. But lizards pale in comparison to the vultures. These aerial creatures swoop down from above, their fleeting shadow your only warning before they descend for the kill. Using biological thrusters and their tentacled appendages as both wings and walking limbs, vultures are fast, agile, near-unstoppable apex predators. As a slugcat, your best options are to flee and hide or...better yet, lure a lizard into the vulture's waiting mandibles.
The world of Rain World isn't the only aspect that's been improved. Your slugcat is more agile than ever before, able to backflip over lizards, roll and perform high jumps, and chain these new maneuvers together. These skills are your greatest strength, allowing you to deftly evade predators and scurry out of sight or provide some breathing room to nail a devastating spear throw. Jumping and climbing around is fun thanks to the fluid animations, and using your agility to avoid or fight predators makes each encounter a tense game of cat-and-mouse.
Rain World is far from complete. New creatures and regions in development, such as the pack-hunting yellow lizards and the Garbage Wastes, promise to evolve the game even further. But even now, as an alpha with a few (albeit quite large) regions and species, it's already an impressive and engaging experience.
You can follow Rain World's progress and find many more GIFs and in-depth development updates in the game's TIGForum devlog. You can also add Rain World to your wishlist on Steam.

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