Rain World: Surviving in a Living Ecosystem

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Rain World: Surviving in a Living Ecosystem

Rain World is a dark, dank, and grimy landscape. It seems to have once been industrial, but it’s crumbling under devastating rain, intense enough to crush the bones of any critter caught outside. You play as a little animal called a “Slugcat,” nimble and clever, but decidedly outgunned in terms of raw killing power when compared to… basically all the other beasts inhabiting the dripping ruins around you.

With Rain World, we are doing quite a lot of things differently from the standards of video games. As much as a game, we’ve built a kind of living ecosystem simulation where creatures exist independently of the player and autonomously search throughout the world for food and shelter.

The slithering neon lizards you encounter have brutally dangerous claws and teeth, but are also individuals that can learn to recognize you. The mighty vultures swooping down from above are fierce hunters of both lizards and slugcats, but they’re not mindless machines — if you wrong one it may decide to track you specifically and you’ll never again be able to pass under open sky without an anxious eye upwards. The scruffy scavengers rooting through the garbage heaps are distrusting and dangerous, but save one from the jaws of a vulture and you might make a friend, or eventually even gain the trust of the entire pack.

Playing as a slugcat, you are not a mighty hero mowing down foes. Instead you are a quite insignificant inhabitant of a large and chaotic food chain. Often in games even the elements meant to hinder you are in some way pandering to you — they’re intended as obstacles for you to conquer. We wanted to create another experience, where the world and its inhabitants give you no special treatment. You as the protagonist don’t get an easier time than any other creature, but surprisingly a fearsome beast might pass you over because you’re just not the most delicious prey around!

What slugcat does have to set it apart, is its wit. You play as a crafty and clever little critter, and you’ll gain knowledge about how other creatures work such as their hunting habits and tastes in prey. You can learn to trick them, or play them against each other. You don’t gain stats or equipment; it’s the knowledge you accumulate that makes previously insurmountable obstacles possible to overcome.

If you stay in hiding you will see scenes such as the mighty leviathan emerging from the deep to feed on scurrying tadpole fish, or rival lizards fighting it out over territory until the less dominant gives up and departs. Choose the right moment to emerge or intervene, and you will be able to proceed un-eaten.

Survival and exploration are the main objectives for slugcat. However, as a backdrop to the struggle for survival lies the remnants of something larger — buildings and machines clearly constructed by someone more resourceful than the animals that now inhabit them. Slugcat is intelligent enough to harbor a suspicion that the rusting machines once had a purpose, but a full understanding is just out of reach. There are connections between the old metal, the peculiar symbols, the rain, the strange dreams, and the vast structures looming above.

The answers to these mysteries can be vaguely sensed, but pragmatism takes the day — first you must eat and avoid being eaten. But who knows, perhaps those who become true masters of survival can catch a glimpse of these larger schemes…

Please feel free to ask questions in the comments, we will try to answer as best as we can while staying clear of spoilers!

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