Release Date: February 1, 2019
Wishlist or purchase here! (Steam)
When Frostwood Interactive reached out and asked if I would like to review Rainswept, I was immediately drawn in by the premise. I don’t play a lot of point-and-click titles, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the genre in the past and knew that any game featuring a murder mystery as a central plot element is worth a try. While an imperfect experience at times, Rainswept delivers an intriguing adventure that rises above being a paint-by-numbers detective title.
The central premise of Rainswept surrounds protagonist Michael Stone, a detective from a larger city that comes to the small community of Pineview in order to help investigate the deaths of a young couple in their home. While the locals are all convinced that this is a textbook case of murder-suicide, Michael believes something more sinister may have occurred and begins a search for the truth. From there, the plot takes place over the next week and follows Michael as he hunts down more clues, grows closer to the residents of Pineview, and faces his own personal demons.
This game’s plot definitely takes a while to get going, as it took me an hour or two to get invested. The strength of Rainswept is its immersion and realism, but it has to ease the player into the experience over time. What ultimately hooked me is how well the small-town atmosphere is conveyed. Having lived in a small community for part of my life, the disbelief that anything bad could ever happen and the gossipy nature of the townsfolk, curing their own boredom with small-town residence by being overly interested in their neighbors’ lives, all felt remarkably true to my own experiences.
In terms of actual gameplay, everything is traditional point-and-click fare. Click to interact with objects and chat with other people. Everything functions well, but I do have a few minor criticisms that impacted my gameplay experience. First of all, movement can only be done via the WASD keys, not by clicking with the mouse. This is probably a specific-to-me issue, but I really enjoy that point-and-clicks often allow me to do everything in the game using only my mouse, allowing me to sit back with a cup of tea or a bowl of popcorn and play one-handed. Additionally, I wasn’t a fan of having to be centered in front of an object in order to be allowed to interact with it. Some objects were close together, forcing me to position Michael with a level of precision that the controls can’t accommodate. I would have preferred being allowed to interact with everything pictured on the screen without needing to move manually.
Additionally, while not a downside for me, it is worth noting that there is an incredibly minimal amount of puzzle-solving in Rainswept. I felt that the story is more than enough motivation to play through the title without the use of any additional brainteasers. Still, for anyone who likes the puzzling aspect of a number of other staples of the genre, know that the puzzles aren’t frequent and they’re usually simplistic in nature. This is not meant to be a challenging experience, with far more focus drawn to the narrative and characters rather than trying to stump players with difficult puzzles.
There is some variability to the quality of the characters, but overall, I particularly enjoyed the character of Michael Stone. As a protagonist, he is complicated and it’s hard to get inside his head. The fact that the player spends the game questioning his complex motivations is to the benefit of the game, giving another layer of intrigue to the mysteries surrounding Pineview. In the same vein, learning more about the past of the dead couple, Chris and Diane, also adds to the mystery, as the player follows them through milestones in their life, constantly questioning whether their love is as it seems on the surface, or whether something darker is brewing underneath.
While all of the primary characters stand out, many of the supporting characters felt generic. In particular, I had a lot of trouble telling the myriad of male characters apart from one another, as there weren’t any marked differences in their characterizations. In other games, this may not have been as noticeable, but in a game where the main cast is so strong, the weakness of the various suspects and witnesses over the course of the game stand out.
On the subject of graphics, they are a mixed bag. Backgrounds are generally beautiful and perfectly capture the idyllic small town feel, but character models are generic and hard on the eyes. I did get used to the graphics over time and even found them endearing by the end of the game, but they can also be distracting when I struggled to determine which character I was actually speaking to at a given time. Of course, I’m not going to hold the graphical stylings of an indie game primarily created by one person against it, especially since it rarely detracted significantly from the overall experience.
Above all else, however, one of my favorite aspects of the game is the stellar soundtrack from Micamic, whose previous works include the soundtrack for The Cat Lady. Every song elevated an already wonderful story into something that fully resonated with me and further proves my longstanding belief that a strong soundtrack can make or break a game. I have no doubt that I’ll be listening to the soundtrack periodically in the future and thinking back to the experience I had playing this title for the first time.
After rolling credits on Rainswept, I felt emotionally drained, which is a sign of a strong story. Paired with the strong musical score, this was truly a great experience, albeit one marred by small issues at times. I enjoyed my time with the residents of Pineview, and I would recommend this to anyone that needs a new point-and-click adventure to experience. If Michael Stone has a few more adventures up his sleeve in the future, I will be the first to pick up a copy.
Final Score: 7/10
Well, that was my first review of the ten I am going to be working on for my point-and-clicks backlog. Are you going to pick Rainswept up? Let me know in the comments below!