Rain World: Downpour is a game about reinventing an ecosystem

23.02.2023 0 By admin

Rain World: Downpour is a game about reinventing an ecosystem.

About how precise changes to an environment and the creatures within it can have an incredible effect on a simulated biosphere.

In the expansion, there are five new Slugcats to play as, all of which feature not just new, game-redefining abilities — but new regions suited for those abilities, and new creatures to test their limits.

And like in the original base game, everything runs on a unique system of procedural animation and AI that makes this pixelated ecosystem feel truly alive.

So, for this entry into the archive, we’ll discover the hidden depths of Rain World: Downpour.

Now, let’s reshuffle the roles of this virtual food chain.

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The first new Slugcat is the Gourmand, a rather rotund creature that, at a glance, seems stuck at the bottom of the evolutionary heap.

For the Gourmand is unable to run as fast or climb as far as most Slugcats.

Even something as simple as throwing a spear will tire them out, causing them to enter a winded state until they can catch their breath.

In the race to survive, the adorable Gourmand sadly doesn’t seem like they’ll cross the finish line.

But they have an ability that changes everything.

If you hold any two items in each hand, this clever creature will combine them to create something new.

Find yourself in a dark room? The Gourmand can combine glowing slime mold with a rock to create a lantern.

Or combine a Gunpowder Plant with a Sporepuff to create an explosive.

Or a Beehive with a Vulture Grub to create a blinding flashbang.

The sheer number of things you can make is completely nuts, as this chart from the wiki proves.

And if you don’t have ingredients, the resourceful Gourmand can simply cough one up at the cost of one food.

They’re the definition of ‘work smarter, not harder.

’ The Gourmand has other drawbacks, like how they need a more sizable stockpile of food to hibernate.

But the more you play, the more you fall into the Gourmand’s pattern of life.

In one of the coolest tricks Downpour pulls, you learn to think like the Slugcat you play as to survive in the ecosystem.

The Gormand’s path eventually takes them to the new region of the Outer Expanse, a lush and lively environment dotted with ancient ruins.

It would be paradise for a creature like the Gourmand, but there are other new lifeforms in this garden.

Caramel Lizards are oversized, six-legged brutes that can perform aggressive leaps to catch their prey.

They also have the ability to spit projectiles that can knock the Gourmand down or stick them in place.

Motivated by the promise of a tasty treat, Carmel Lizards will use every weapon at their disposal to try and catch the Gourmand.

And like the creatures from the base game, these enemies are powered almost entirely by procedural animation and emergent behavior, which makes them feel like living organisms.

This approach is insanely cool and was also insanely difficult to get right, according to the developers whom I interviewed for extra insight: Joar “Our project we set out to do was: what if we base it entirely around emergent behavior.

” James “We would ask ourself like: this stuff is so cool, like, why don’t other games do this.

And we found out — they’re right not to do this (laughs).

” Although a challenge to develop, the tech behind creatures like the Carmel Lizards makes them engaging rivals to the Gourmand.

But while not a master combatant, this Slugcat has some very ‘Gourmand’ ways to handle threats.

In a pinch, they can fall from enough height to stun enemies with their sheer bulk.

Even better, if you give Carmel Lizards enough of the right type of food, you can turn them into your allies.

For like the Gourmand, they’re fellow food-lovers.

Unfortunately, some creatures find nothing quite as tempting as the Gourmand themselves.

In the humid wetlands of the Outer Expanse, Jungle Leeches will try to latch on to the Gourmand.

These green leeches are able to stay out of the water for long periods without drying up, and slowly drain the food from their hosts.

Get overwhelmed, and the Gourmand becomes dessert.

This jungle might not be the easiest environment for the Gourmand to navigate, but the determined little Slugcat will keep hauling themselves along.

To make traversal easier, you can get a helping hand from the Yeeks.

These energetic, frog-like creatures are passive lifeforms that jump around incessantly — and if you grab hold of one, you can greatly increase your jumping ability.

They especially come in handy in areas dense with Worm Grass, which will try to pull the Gourmand in to feed.

Yeek traversal is another example of the Gourmand using their intelligence to overcome their shortcomings.

Ultimately, the Gourmand’s journey is a story of learning to work your way up from the bottom of the food chain.

And if you eat every type of food, it unlocks an incredible piece of post-game content that I’ll reveal at the end of the video.

But the next Slugcat, the Artificer, isn’t interesting in the joys of life.

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In many ways the Gourmand’s opposite, this aggressive creature is an expert in explosives, able to turn any regular spear into an explosive one, or cough up a grenade.

These weapons encourage an aggressive playstyle that can result in you blowing yourself up, but fortunately, the Artificer is immune to explosive damage.

In fact, blowing themselves up is the main way they get around, as they can create a small, midair explosion to give their jump extra height.

While tricky to use at first, this explosive jump soon becomes integral to navigating the environment, and encourages you to approach movement with the same aggressive momentum as combat.

But like the Gourmand, the Artificer has downsides.

Use the explosive jump too much, and you’ll start smoking — and if you jump again, you’ll be knocked unconscious.

Ignore this warning, and it’s game over.

But while the Artificer is a danger to themselves, they are even more dangerous to their many enemies.

For this vengeful Slugcat is hunting the most intelligent creatures in Rain World — the Scavengers.

In the original game, the advanced Scavenger groups could be reasoned with, and would only attack if you caused trouble.

But in this game, their AI’s aggression is locked at maximum, and they’ll use their considerable intelligence to try and take the Artificer out.

As you move through the game, they’ll send out assassination squads, set up ambushes, and even unleash their ultimate weapon — Elite Scavengers.

An ‘eye-for-an-eye’ response to the Artificer’s escalation, these hunters have unique masks and electrified spears that do extra damage.

They’re also considerably more mobile, able to leap long distances and smoke you out if you try to hide somewhere out of reach.

It can really feel like you’re battling an autonomous intelligence instead of enemies in a video game.

James “You have these AI creatures that have their own agency, right? And they have all of these various competing impulses, I guess you’d say.

” The Artificer’s path of violence eventually leads them to the Metropolis, a crumbling ancient city you can access thanks to an ID drone that accidently links with you.

You’re here to flush out the Scavengers, but even while you’re on the warpath, it’s hard not to be moved by the beautiful environments of this region, which tell a haunting story of a civilization that vanished.

In some areas, the technology still functions, with rooms that continue to glow with holographic displays, and even some low gravity chambers home to Neuron Flies.

These multicolored drone swarms seem to store data, and while they might seem defenseless, messing with them is a bad idea.

For the Neuron Flies have a protector.

Inspectors are bizarre, multi-headed artificial beings programmed to defend the neuron swarm at all costs.

If you snatch a Fly, their bodies will flash red and they’ll go on the offensive, flinging the Artificer around the room or catching spears mid-air.

And since each head seems to have their own AI, they’re a unique challenge to outwit.

The only way to defeat this mechanical hydra is to destroy all three heads, after which the Inspector will explode.

It seems wherever the Artificer goes, destruction follows.

If you continue to blaze onwards, you will eventually come face to face with the Chieftain Scavenger, a unique being that won’t attack you outright, giving you a final chance to turn back.

But at this point, you see the world as the Artificer does, and violence is likely your first instinct.

If you do decide to battle the Chieftain, you’re in for a fight more challenging than any other Scavenger you’ve faced.

No matter the outcome, however, the Scavenger seems stuck in an endless cycle of destruction.

And the game does a great job pulling you into that cycle of escalation, encouraging you to tear through the ecosystem with explosive recklessness.

Yet the middle Slugcat — the Rivulet — survives not through strength, but agility.

My personal favorite, the Rivulet can run faster, climb faster, and swim faster than a typical Slugcat.

In fact, the Rivulet is so quick that they can outmaneuver creatures like the Leviathan, which in the base game were virtually impossible to escape from on your own.

And thanks to the Rivulet’s primitive gills, they can also stay underwater for long periods.

These adaptations are absolutely critical to the Rivulet’s survival, as at this point in the timeline, the rain comes so frequently that the land has become a drowned kingdom of unending floods.

And the Rivulet’s attunement to their environment was quite intentional: Andrew: “They were kind of the slugcat that originally sparked off the idea of ‘what if all these new slugcats had some region or ecosystem that ties into their abilities.

” Yet the Rivulet is not the only lifeform that has adapted to this new environment.

Eels are aquatic hunters that slither in the bowels of this waterlogged dominion, and seem to be an offshoot of the lizards.

They propel their slender bodies through the water with their long, spiny tail — the bioluminescent glow of their heads casting an eerie light.

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In open waters, packs of Eels will cut the Rivulet off from all angles.

Their AI works a bit like the Salamanders of the base game, if they had their reaction time and mobility dialed all the way up.

But there are larger and more aggressive predators than Eels in these waters.

Aquapedes are another major threat to the Rivulet — huge aquatic centipedes with a bottomless appetite.

Seemingly a relative of the flying Centiwings that have turned their wings to flippers, Aquapedes might make you think twice about taking a swim… Yet the more you play as the Rivulet, the more navigating the depths becomes second nature.

Eventually, you gather the courage to dive deep into the Submerged Superstructure, a late game region that is almost entirely underwater.

And in these recesses, the deadliest aquatic predator skulks in the form of the Giant Jellyfish.

Occasionally spotted closer to the surface, these gargantuan siphonophores can sense prey through vibrations in the water.

Move too much, and the Giant Jellyfish will send out their tentacles in pursuit of the Rivulet — dragging them in close and administering a lethal electric shock from an orb-shaped organ.

Yet these tentacles have a maximum range, and if you’re well-practiced, you can lure the tentacles out, then swim right under them.

By the end of the Rivulet’s storyline, you truly feel like an Olympic swimmer, and are more at home in the water than on the land — despite the abundance of predators… But what about a Slugcat that doesn’t avoid predators, but is one? The Spearmaster is an at first unassuming creature that pulls spear-like quills from its tail.

When thrown, these spears can impale and drain the life from other organisms.

And since the Spearmaster is unable to eat due to having no mouth, leeching off other species is the only way to stay alive.

This seemingly simple change turns the entire game of Rain World on its head, because now, instead of being constantly on the run from carnivores, you are the carnivore, seeking out other lifeforms and slowly draining them like a tiny vampire.

Yet the Spearmaster is not invincible.

It exists in an era long before the other Slugcats, where competition is fierce and predators are more numerous.

And some predators are so dangerous, even a biological terror like the Spearmaster needs to be careful.

Mother Spiders are huge arachnids that scuttle in the dim corners of the region, their abdomen swollen due to carrying their brood.

Attack one, and a hoard of ravenous Coalescipedes are unleashed — infant spiders that link together into a centipede like formation to attack the player.

This protective swarm can overwhelm the Spearmaster in seconds, which is why it is fortunate that Mother Spiders will avoid confrontations — if you keep your distance.

But not all predators offer this courtesy.

Stowaways are near-invisible ambush predators that impale their prey with long, fleshy tendrils — then pull them upwards towards their perch on the ceiling, where a mouth rimmed with jagged fangs swallows them whole.

Battling Stowaways is exceedingly risky, as one often doesn’t spot them until it’s too late.

And it’s not just the Slugcat that the Stowaway can catch off guard, as they’ll eat anything they can drag up into their gullet.

It can be hard not to feel outclassed as a predator when dealing with such an effective hunter.

And there is no hunter more effective than the Mother Long Legs.

A primordial ancestor of the other Long Leg species, this artificial terror is a tentacled mass that prowls the Garbage Wastes, feeding on anything that gets stuck in its web of tendrils.

Although unable to see, the Mother Long Legs reacts dynamically to sound, able to lock on to prey if they make the slightest whisper.

Yet while these terrors are virtually invincible, if you’re careful, you can actually impale the Mother Long Legs and leech off their energy — proving that it’s not the size of the hunter that matters, but the tenacity.

And the more you settle into playing as the Spearmaster, the bolder you become — working your way up the food chain until everything feels like it’s on the menu.

Yet the final Slugcat is the Spearmaster’s spiritual opposite.

The Saint is perhaps the most unique Slugcat of all, because they are pacifists.

If you try to throw a spear, the Saint will toss it so that it spins uselessly through the air.

Try to eat another animal — even something as small as a bug — and the Saint will become sick, crawling around in a dazed state.

It’s plants and fungi only for this Slugcat.

In the brutal ecosystem of Rain World, The Saint seems hopelessly exposed… but they have a very unusual trick up their sleeve.

Using a long, chameleon-like tongue as a grappling hook, they can lift themselves out of reach of hungry mouths.

This tongue greatly increases their mobility, allowing them to swing themselves through the ruined environment they call home.

For the Saint lives at the absolute tail end of Rain World’s timeline, in an era where the land seems locked in a brutal ice age.

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The Rain has been replaced with unforgiving snow storms, cloaking the desolate remains of the ecosystem in a funeral shroud of white.

Stay out in the cold too long and you will slowly freeze, with the Saint becoming paler and paler as their metabolism shuts down.

The only way to endure this forsaken climate is to take frequent shelter.

But this ecosystem is not completely barren.

The pale Strawberry Lizards trudge through the snowstorm, managing to cling to life.

And like all lizards from past eras, these ice age reptiles are predators.

To catch the Saint, Strawberry Lizards have convergently evolved the same grapple-tongue method of locomotion, making them one of the most maneuverable and unpredictable predator species of any era.

Using their tongue, the Lizards will fling themselves at the Saint, grappling onto the ceiling next to them, or even onto the Saint themselves.

Trying to anticipate how the Lizards’ AI will interact with the game’s physics system is exceedingly difficult, making them a worthy rival to the agile Saint.

Yet even in competition, it is hard not to feel strangely sorry for these lizards, who like you are doing all they can to survive in this endless winter.

These are creatures of the snow, focused primarily on outlasting the cold.

Not all creatures are interested in playing it cool.

In the warm-hued region of the Rubicon — an underground locale exclusive to the Saint’s storyline — the hot-tempered Firebugs are quick to go on the offensive.

If you accidently startle one, they will quite literally explode with anger, sending their eggs scattering and careening towards the Saint like a heat-seeking missile.

Not one to forget a grudge, they will continue to pursue you until they find their target.

It’s best to behave like a saint, and give them no reason to get aggressive.

Yet the final lifeform is as needlessly aggressive as the Saint is peaceful.

Swooping in on massive wings, Miros Vultures are a whirlwind of teeth and claws that give a whole new meaning to death from above.

A horrific amalgamation of Vultures and Miros Birds, the Miros Vulture is relentless in its path of destruction, moving through areas like a living natural disaster.

If their beak that can slay you in one hit and the blades on their wings aren’t enough, the Miros Vulture’s glowing eye can also unleash a laser that explodes with concussive force.

But even this nightmare of a predator is often no match for the Saint’s simple, passive avoidance.

You can defeat Miros Vultures the same way you defeat the snow: by staying calm and waiting out the storm.

Like all the Slugcats before it, playing as the Saint will make you think like one, approaching all situations with a clear mind and avoiding fights instead of starting them.

Each of the five campaigns change both the ecosystem, and the way you think about your place in it.

And if you fulfill all the requirements in the Gourmand’s campaign, you unlock something very special.

The next time you boot up the game, you might encounter a final creature — the Slugpups.

These adorable infant Slugcats offer a new way to navigate the game, because now, you can be a parent.

And you can take them by the hand or carry them all the way to the end.

And you can adopt more than one.

Make sure you’re ready for the extra responsibility though, because once a pup bonds with you it becomes your duty to protect them from the dangers of Rain World, which can be extremely stressful.

But it’s a cool hidden system, with a surprising amount of depth.

Andrew “We basically has just one person on the team just solely devoted to developing the Slugpups” James “It’s a very big project.

It’s huge!” No matter how you get to the end, each of the new Slugcats has at least one conclusion that wraps up their journey in a poignant yet unexpected way.

If you’d like to check out the expansion for yourself, once again, be aware that the game is exceedingly difficult.

I’ve never felt more aware of my vulnerable place in a virtual ecosystem than when playing Rain World — which is by design: Joar: “Rain World is about humility, right? It’s like: you’re not some big hero, you’re just this little creature.

” A tremendous thank you to the creative minds behind this game for sharing insights into how the ecosystem came together.

It’s been an honor exploring this pixelated biosphere.

As always, thanks for watching.

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See you in the next video.