A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rain World is a downloadable action game. This game is extremely challenging, which could frustrate players, thanks to a procedural design that means the game map is different each time you play. That means you won't be able to go online to look for walkthroughs or meaningful help. Apart from some animals eating other animals, there's no inappropriate content to be found in the game.
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What's it about?
There isn't much of a story in RAIN WORLD. The game begins with a few still images, static shots of a slug cat (a creature that's a slug and also a cat) being plucked by the elements away from its family and planted onto a ravaged, bleak world of urban decay. From there, your adventure starts, and, in all seriousness, the game doesn't tell you much else about where to go or what to do. It's up to you to figure it out as you make it deeper in -- if you even get that far.
Is it any good?
It's tough to sum up this adventure as being simply good or bad, but it's easy to say it will not be for everyone. From the very beginning, you're expected to improvise to survive. But what the game doesn't tell you is how to do that. Most of the game is in an alien language and has an inscrutable tip system (it seems like tiny wriggling neon lines are either indicating enemies, are enemies, or are pointing to specific things you should be doing, but it doesn't say what or why). It's doubtful anyone but the extremely patient or stubborn will progress very far in the game, which can be painted as a positive or a negative. If you're looking for a challenge for its own sake, this might be your game. If you're looking for a challenge where you're given the tools to survive, so you can slowly become adept and then proficient, this isn't your game.
For example, something that the game doesn't explain: You have to eat to hibernate, hibernate to survive, and survive to explore the full world map. Each time you die, the game doesn't tell you this, but a flower emerges at your spot of death, and you have to eat it to preserve your hibernation level. Only after you do that will it serve as a "flag" being planted in the area as you solve the rest of the area's puzzles (mainly navigating platforms and how to get from A to B). In other words, it's entirely possible to log several hours, then lose all your progress because you forgot to do a tiny thing the game never said you should do or even could do in the first place. The game's intended to be bleak and punishing. You have to be that sort of player to appreciate and welcome this sort of thing. But many will be too turned off to find the outermost reaches of the game's colossal map and the secrets they contain. Either way, prepare to die and fail a lot.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why too much of a certain element in a creative work can overpower it. Games are like any other medium, but can you think of a movie or book or TV show you've read where there's a structural element of the story that seems to overtake the rest of its focus? How could you tell?
Why is bleakness in video games in particular so enduringly popular? What elements in Rain World have you seen again and again in other games? How are they different here?
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