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Rainswept Review

Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

Rainswept, developed and published by Frostwood Interactive, is a story-packed murder mystery in a small coastal city full of intrigue, real life issues, and small town woes. But don’t let the stunning landscapes and serene music fool you — Rainswept manages to gracefully and respectfully cover some very heavy topics.

Simply Beautiful

The first thing you’re likely to notice about Rainswept is the art direction, both visual and audio, and its amazing ability to set the stage for events. Nestled in rolling hills and surrounded by a dense forest with cliff-top views over the ocean, there is rarely a scene in the sleepy town of Pinewood that isn’t a feast for the eyes. Paired with an original soundtrack that can be bright, tense, or melancholic, it all becomes something easy to lose yourself in. The art style is hard to describe. It mixes what looks like painted skylines, cut paper foregrounds, and stylized character models, in what feels like a labor of love through and through.

Mystery Abounds

Rainswept wastes no time in getting down to the meat of what makes a murder mystery, opening with an obscured scene the night of a supposed murder-suicide in a house on the edge of town. The protagonist, Michael Stone, a veteran detective from the big city, makes his way into town to get to the bottom of a crime that has shaken this small town. A young officer fresh out of the academy, Amy Blunt, is assigned to assist Stone in the case and act as a liaison to the town for him. Challenging the assumptions of the local police, Stone is reluctant to believe that this is an open-and-shut case and begins piecing together what happened that night with the help — and occasionally the hindrance — of the townsfolk.

A Darker Side

While the central plot revolves around the case, Rainswept dives into the backstories of several characters, with playable flashbacks that cover several topics that not many games I have seen have done. Encompassing themes from love and loss to PTSD and rape, Rainswept pulls no punches in fleshing out the traumas of the citizens of Pinewood. This honest portrayal manages to make many of the characters endearing, and even had me seriously questioning my initial assumptions of certain individuals. Understanding that these themes are not enjoyable to cover, it was brave of the developers to include them, and it manages to pay off for the overall character development.

Gameplay

Gameplay in this story-driven adventure is minimal, but it was never the focus of the experience either. Most of your time will be spent conversing with individuals via text-based bubbles and prompts, walking through town to track down your next lead, and occasionally solving small, item-based puzzles. There is never much in terms of complexity, but Rainswept still manages to create some powerful moments with these minimal control systems.

Nitpicking

My only two gripes through my six-hour playthrough were that sometimes the character animation looked a little sloppy (but never enough to ruin the impact of any given scene), and it was sometimes difficult to find a stopping point. Saves can be created at most times, but there are rather long stretches where there isn’t a lull in the story, and saving during a flashback can set you back to the scene before. That being said, I feel as I’m being rather nitpicky in even pointing those out.

Rainswept is one of the most memorable narrative experiences I’ve had in gaming, with the representation of real-life traumas and how people deal with them being one of the strongest points. In conjunction with an already compelling mystery, gorgeous mixed-media visuals, and a fantastic soundtrack, this title is one I can recommend to even those on the fence about these types of games.

7

The Verdict: Great

With beautiful artwork, a compelling story, and fleshed-out characters, Rainswept is the whole package when it comes to narrative-driven games. While there isn’t a lot in terms of gameplay, the drive to get to the bottom of the small town’s secrets more than makes up for it.

Coal Fire
Written by
Friday, 01 March 2019 05:30
Published in Adventure

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CoalFire is an enthusiastic gamer who has spent the last few years digging for the hidden gems of indie gaming. A scientist by education, he breaks down the components of games sorting out what works, what doesn't and how it all works to create a cohesive experience. When he's not analyzing them, he's still playing.

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