by Amber Hall
reviewed on PC
A Detective Story We Already Know
Rainswept is a 2D point and click adventure game about a detective on a case that is seemingly an open and shut case. Chris and his girlfriend Diane have been found dead in their house, and now it's up to you, Detective Stone, to get to the bottom of what really happened. I initially thought this game was going to play like a 2D narrative game like Telltale's games, but I quickly found that the dialogue options were much more superficial. Most of the dialogue options are just questions you can ask in any order anyway. As such, Rainswept is more of an interactive story with some clunky controls rather than a narrative story where you have any real choice it what happens. This isn't necessarily an issue, but a game like Rainswept should have a great narrative or a bunch of interesting puzzles. Sadly, there's lots of issues with the overall story in Rainswept and not much in the way of puzzles.
This is my first issue with the game. A lot of it follows your cliché detective story a little too closely. Detective Stone feels like every other detective you've seen in movies and games before him. He's a detective that's maybe a little too serious and who is trying to look at the case in every perspective he can to get to the truth of what unfolded. Meanwhile, the local police aren't taking the case nearly as seriously and are eager to close it quickly. Just like any detective character I can recall from anything ever, Detective Stone has something dark from his past haunting him that he has to overcome. This pattern of predictability carries through most of the game.
The Story That Kept Me Playing
However, this isn't to say that the story is totally dead on arrival. It's still an enjoyable enough story, despite how predictable most of its elements are. Moreover, the writing of each side character is generally pretty interesting and filled with silly jokes that really level the darker themes you might expect from a murder mystery. However, the parts that are particularly interesting are the small moments where the game lets the player explore the lives of the murdered couple, Chris and Diane.
This part of the story really shines through for a variety of reasons, and it's a shame that these parts are so few and far between. Firstly, because we get many different external opinions of these two people, it's much more revealing once you get to delve into their personal lives as they experienced it. It exposes people's assumptions about them and how little basis they have for their assumptions. Chris and Diane easily become the most interesting characters. However, the second reason is that they aren't following the same cliché story as Detective Stone. Their story becomes an interesting narrative on two unique individuals and how things lead into their deaths. I feel as if the extra layer about their deaths in the present with Detective Stone adds a lot to the intrigue of these characters, but this aspect could have easily been kept while also making the portions about Detective Stone less predictable.
I found myself playing the game just to find something unexpected. I wanted to encounter more about Chris and Diane, and seeing their side of the story, I was hoping to get something a little more unique from Detective Stone's story. As I mentioned before, the game doesn't do much outside of storytelling, but I wish the controls had been a little less clunky. Most of the time, the game just asks you to walk around and click through dialogue options, but even these moments can be a bit more cumbersome that you might expect. Some moments, there would be dialogue on the screen that wasn't very noticeable, and so I would wonder why my character couldn't move.
Some Beautiful Imagery
Other times, the game has you doing some small puzzle solving that I hesitate to call a puzzle. Rainswept is trying to be a point and click game, but I would have expected more engaging puzzles and storytelling from a genre that focuses on these two aspects more than anything. These mundane aspects, however do frame the positives in Rainswept beautifully. Rainswept has some stunning visuals for such a simple art style. There were moments where the camera would zoom out and reveal beautiful images like the sun rising over a forest or clouds rolling along in the reflection of a lake. Moments like these emphasize the game's topics of loneliness and insignificance in a way that makes them a beautiful part of life.
Obviously, these moments would hold much less meaning if the entire game used these moments rather than keeping them as something special. But in general, I wish the story involving Detective Stone was more fun to follow. Following the stories of Chris and Diane was always enjoyable, so I'm sure that the positive elements of the game would still shine through with some tweaks on the typical detective story they're framed around. What was done right kept me playing, and when Rainswept tells its story right it is an interesting and engaging experience.
Beautiful imagery, a revealing sub-plot that's fun to follow.
Predictable main narrative, clunky controls.