by Henry Stockdale
reviewed on PC
Needs further reflection
There’s a sense of familiarity when it comes to Rain of Reflections. Taking major cues from Telltale Games and the acclaimed novel The Children of Men, the game takes place in a 22nd century dystopia as mass infertility leaves humanity on the brink of extinction. Working as a point-and-click style adventure, Lionbite Games have made the unique decision to mix this with a turn-based battle system, reminiscent of XCOM. But while the story hooks you in, the gameplay leaves much to be desired.
Society on the brink
Each chapter features a new main character, with an interlinking story between the three chapters determined by your choices. Chapter 1, “Set Free”, revolves around Wilona Hart, a scientist working in OneCity to cure the infertility crisis, who begins doubting the morality of her work. It’s clear the developers have put polish into the world-building, portraying a believable dystopian society that keeps you engaged, but the presentation is hampered by stiff character animations and lip-syncing issues. On the positive side, it features an enjoyable soundtrack and full voice cast that deliver on their performances.
Gameplay is split between three different segments. The main one is the exploration phase, utilising point-and-click mechanics to travel across your location. As well as viewing the scenery, you can acquire items like batteries, interact with devices and talk to NPCs. Unlike in Telltale games, there’s no time limit to choose your dialogue options when speaking to NPCs, neither does Rain of Reflections hint whether your actions change the story later on, so you have to proceed carefully.
You’ll encounter obstacles such as electric fences during exploration, which can be bypassed through Wilona’s “Remote Hack” ability and this comes in the form of three mini-games. First of all, you have a shapes game which involves rotating them to fit the outline in a limited number of moves. Secondly, there’s “Breach Hacking” that focuses on moving a virtual ball to a set location, reminiscent of Marble Madness. The final one is “Comms Hacking”, where your objective is to locate an audio source by moving a column along a grid. The mini-games are fun at first but they don’t offer much variety and soon become repetitive.
Stealth or Shoot
Finally, we have the encounters system, acting as the game’s turn-based battle mode. Placing you in a grid, the goal of each encounter is to reach the exit point whilst avoiding enemies. Each turn provides two action points for your character and these can be used on movement, attacks, talking and other actions. Initially, you only control Wilona but later encounters provide allies to command alongside her.
Instead of a health bar, each combatant has a “motivation system” that’s affected by actively firing on an enemy, destroying their cover or shouting at them using the talk command. If Wilona’s motivation runs out, it’s game over and you’ll need to restart the encounter. But if an enemy runs out they’ll attempt to flee, giving you a chance to kill them as they cannot seek cover in this state. Combat isn’t always necessary as Wilona can use her invisibility cloak to get past enemies. This comes at the cost of one battery per turn, so it can’t be solely relied upon.
Unfortunately, it’s the combat mechanics that let the game down: it’s just not particularly fun to defeat enemies. With the game only allowing one attack per turn, encounters often feel slow and tedious. This wouldn’t be a problem if all encounters could use stealth to advance but sadly this isn’t the case. That being said, the stealth mechanics are pretty good and the core design of the encounters system shows promise, it just needs further adjustments.
One City, One Chapter
Rain of Reflections: Chapter 1 proves to be a mixed bag. It’s clear that Lionbite have put a lot of time into the story that holds your interest but this is broken up by dull, immersion-breaking gameplay. With Chapters 2 and 3 still to come, we hope that Lionbite Games will take these points into consideration. As the game stands, however, it’s hard to recommend it above the competition.
Engaging story, Good voice acting
Tedious gameplay, Animations are lacking in detail