It’s actually been a while since I played a proper point and click adventure. I’ve been getting so bogged down with other games lately that I’ve just not had the time to play a game I know that I’d have a high chance of enjoying. So when Rainswept dropped into my lap, I was so excited to play it. I had to wait a few days before I actually got the chance to jump into it, but I told everyone to sod off for a morning so I could find out all the secrets that Rainswept had in store for me.
An Unsettling Town
Rainswept is set in a fictional town called Pineview, which has strong vibes of Sandford from Hot Fuzz. A tiny town where everyone knows everyone else. A police force that hasn’t seen a murder in years. In Rainswept, you play as Detective Michael Stone, who is sent to the town by his department in the big city, due to the fact that Pineview hasn’t seen a murder in a very long time. As soon as you arrive on the murder scene, you’re greeted by an officer who is clearly upset by your presence, and an equally grumpy police chief. Despite these characters sounding very cliché, they’re actually very well written, as are all of the characters – aside for one, who I assume was a Kickstarter backer. Everyone seems believable, with decent, mostly well formed back stories and interactions that do mostly feel like legitimate, real interactions between the characters. Plodding around the town you meet all the citizens of the town, and each one greets and speaks with you in a manner that really absorbs you into the game.
The characters aren’t the only aspect of the game that’s well written though, the story itself is exciting, full of twists and turns and is actually complete. At each stage you feel like you’re being drip fed information, and it can get a little bit frustrating, but the more you play through it, the more you learn and the thirstier you are for more knowledge. By the end of the game, you actually feel as though you’ve finished it as well. So many indie games leave a gap due to either not knowing how to finish a story or laziness, but Rainswept feels complete. There are no loose ends, and the story is so absorbing I didn’t put it down the entire time I was playing it.
The game rides a fine line between being gorgeous and being a bit iffy, but for the most part it’s definitely gorgeous. The scenes that surround you, all the towns and the wonderful views that have been drawn are truly beautiful. The character designs are a bit more simple and do bring it down slightly, but if you focus on the backgrounds, Rainswept is an exceptionally nice looking game, despite it being relatively basic. The sound design is also a plus point for me. It doesn’t have any voice acting – which for indie games I think is spot on, as voice acting can be extremely hit and miss in these types of games (see: anything by Wadjeteye) – so it has to have a great soundtrack to complement the empty sound, and this game has that by the bucketful. It’s never over the top, never tries to intrude too much, but the subtle sounds in the background constantly make you feel at ease, and like you’re watching a movie.
Holes in the story
I know, I already said that Rainswept was a gorgeous game – and it is, but it is also oddly unappealing. It took me a while to realise why, but the animation of the game really undoes all of the wonderful art that is in the game. The movement of characters looks so awkward and clumsy, no matter what they’re doing. Walking, running and climbing all look as though the developer did a rush job on it, with the idea of refining it at a later date, and then never getting back to it.
I actually went into the game expecting a point and click adventure – despite the fact that Rainswept isn’t billed as such. It has the same aesthetic as your standard point and click adventure, and a lot of the same mechanics, but it’s not a point and click adventure. And it should be. The developer, for some reason, tried to throw in a movement mechanic by using the A and D keys to get you to move yourself around the world. Usually, you’d expect to just click to move your character, because then you could click on items or areas of interest and explore them with ease. Instead, in Rainswept, you have to walk towards things that may or may not be interesting and then, once a magnifying glass glyph has popped up, you can then click it and choose to examine the area or perform another action on it. This just adds a completely unnecessary step into the gameplay, and makes it feel terribly clunky. Oftentimes you’ll even find yourself wandering over to an area assuming that the box is examinable, only to be disappointed by the vast nothingness that is present in the game.
I don’t necessarily mean that in a completely negative way – the game is just extremely focussed. Instead of giving you any red herrings or wild goose chases, you’re directed the entire time. It means the game is much more of a movie-game rather than a solid adventure game. Very rarely are you given any choices in the game that have an affect on the story, if at all. That’s perfect if the developer just wants to tell a story, but for me it removes some of the fun. I like being led astray, or hunting down leads.
The Final Word
Rainswept has some awesome presentation – if you ignore the animations – and a very good story to boot. I did expect a little bit more than a 3 hour, extremely linear game though, and for £10 I think that expecting a little more is fair enough. There aren’t too many reasons to replay the game once you’ve seen the story through, so it’s a bit tough. If you like games that tell a story, then Rainswept does tell a good one, but it does fall short on actually being a proper ‘game’, rather than just being an interactive movie.