Rain World looks great on paper. An ecosystem with dozens of fascinating creatures all trying to eat each other or avoid being eaten, in a mysterious derelict industrial landscape. Unfortunately you’re never going to see more than a handful of them because the progression system is arcane and utterly unforgiving, requiring you to retreat to distant safe zones every ten minutes with no way of knowing where or how far away the next one is.
If you want to explore safely, you have to retrace your steps over and over again, memorise all the tricky series of jumps and hard-to-reach level transitions so you can discover a little bit of the next area before the rain comes and you have to backtrack the entire way to the safe zone. If you do that, you’ll raise your karma enough to pass through gates.
You gain karma every time you hibernate, and you lose it if you die. Tying this to your ability to progress is ridiculously cruel, as every death is a twofold setback, once for putting you back at the safe zone and once for having to go through another hibernation cycle to get your karma back. And die you will. After four or five deaths by getting caught in the rain you’ll learn to keep a fearful eye on the clock and book it back to the safe zone when it’s gone halfway round.
If you’re lucky you won’t get eaten by lizards in the process. Their jerky and random movement makes them look comically inept, and you can mostly avoid them simply by jumping over their heads. But there comes a point where you’re in a hurry to escape the rain and there’s a lizard blocking your path to the safe zone, and there’s no way around. Or you rush past them and misjudge a jump, which is all too common with the procedural animation system. Whether by an error of judgment or the unavoidable time pressure, you get ate, and it feels like there’s nothing you could have done to prevent it.
Oh, and if you do by some miracle avoid the rain, the lizards, don’t get lost and don’t starve to death, you’ll inevitably fall prey to a new creature that’s camouflaged or ambushes you or just does something unexpected because you’ve never seen it before. This is a game for masochists.