Welcome to Pineview, a quaint and peaceful town. The mist covered hills, the small streets and markets, the slow pace of life makes it the perfect place to escape from the demons of your past, according to one character. The kind of place where everyone is on a first name basis, rumours spread like wildfire, and local businesses thrive. The kind of place where a murder has just gone down for the first time in almost a century and so they call in the big guns. Enter Detective Michael Stone, a tough as nails, trench coat wearing man with a troubled past who never fails to have a cigarette in his hand. The grungy film noir hero you’d envision the moment you think the phrase “murder mystery.”
Rainswept is categorized as an adventure game, though it is presented like a point and click. Objects in the environment marked with an eye icon can be observed and interacted with by first selecting them with x and then pressing a corresponding face button. You also can highlight objects that can be interacted with by hitting triangle, which is a useful tool usually found in point and clicks, and cycle through objects within your range using R1 and L1. Most of Rainswept will be spent going to locations within Pineview and talking to the locals in order to understand the crime in question. There’s maybe three points in time when you need to pick up an item and use it with another, and a single instance where you need to enter a code using a date wherein you’re uncertain of the proper format (leading to a whopping two possible options). Otherwise, there’s no puzzle solving in the slightest. While I appreciate the attempt to create involved gameplay, there really wasn’t much to do beyond talk to other characters by selecting from a pool of pre-selected dialogue options—somewhat like a visual novel style game rather than what you’d think of when you think of the adventure genre. The most challenging aspect of Rainswept is navigating the map which cannot be zoomed in and does not indicate where you are currently. It took a lot of trial and error for me to get where I needed to go, and sometimes I just wandered from street to street until I finally stumbled into my next objective.
The victims are Chris and Diane, a young couple who had moved to Pineview maybe six months prior to this incident. Local authorities have ruled their deaths as a murder-suicide almost immediately after checking out the crime scene and are reticent to think otherwise, even though Detective Stone notices some inconsistencies. Naturally, the haste of this decision has nothing at all to do with the fact that a prolonged investigation would take more time and there’s an important festival coming up in just a week that brings in tourists to patronize Pineview’s local businesses. It’s pure coincidence that you have a week to understand what exactly happened the night October 6th, 1996 before the case is deemed closed.
As you continue your investigation and begin to question the locals, you’ll notice a trend: everyone in Pineview swears up and down that this couple that no one really got to know was bound to this fate. This is thanks to circulating rumours that stemmed from who knows where rather than on actual knowledge because no matter who you ask in this town of less than 20 people, the response starts with “I didn’t know them well” or “I only saw them once or twice.” It’s kind of sad, once you think about it, how such a close knit community could be so blasé about the existence of the members that didn’t fit in—like a family ostracizing the black sheep.
Rainswept touches on dark topics like suicide, abuse, guilt, and the drawbacks and failures of community and it does it in a thought provoking way by starting at the end of this young couple’s story. Throughout the duration of the case, you’re able to learn more about Chris and Diane—what kind of people they were, how they met, where they were before Pineview, and what they were up to while their neighbours turned a blind eye. By doing so, you learn more about what drives Detective Stone and why he gets too close to this particular case. The two stories unfold side by side, the young couples’ delivered via flashbacks in which you take control of Chris, and the Detective’s via dreams and an eventual confession from Michael Stone himself at the climax of the mystery’s resolution. All in all, developer Frostwood Interactive does an excellent job of conveying a heartfelt tale and the gravity of the choices the characters in Rainswept face, despite the simplistic art style and lack of voice acting.
I found it interesting that Rainswept was presented the way it was, what with its simple wire frames with attached shapes as evident in the way characters are animated. Their proportions are less than human, which could cause a disconnect in empathy, but somehow it works. The simple shapes and colours do a good enough job of creating Pineview from the businesses on the main street, to the cathedral on the hill, to the dreamscapes Detective Stone navigates during his paralytic nightmares. Coupled with a poignant, instrumental OST Rainswept’s chosen art style does a fantastic job of creating atmosphere.
I think if the presentation had been more polished, it would have been easier to take Rainswept more seriously in some scenes. Close ups of characters, like in the scene where Detective Stone opens up, were jarring. The splash art presented upon loading up the game, for example, would have been a more powerful representation. That isn’t to say that the dark and mature themes are ineffectively delivered, but that the gravity was somewhat diminished. I loved that all story lines within Rainswept were given closure by the end, leaving me with a sense of accomplishment after the credits rolled. That being said, if there was a second game that took place after Detective Stone returned home to the big city, detailing whether he could move past the trauma that had been haunting him through the course of Rainswept, I’d definitely be interested.
Unfortunately, Rainswept has performance issues, at least on PS4, that make it difficult to wholeheartedly recommend. In the five hours it took me to complete the campaign, the game crashed three times, forcing me back to the PS4’s home screen and asking if I’d like to report the issue. There were also some graphical glitches, including characters walking through assets and a giant black box that ruined an important scene. When that giant black box followed my currently controlled character, I reloaded my save game thinking that that would fix the problem, but instead it placed me back at the last moment the autosave had recorded and any of the objects that had been there before and therefore with no way to continue. Needless to say, I had to close out the game and fortunately the objects that had vanished had been restored, but that could have easily gone South.
I had a hard time scoring Rainswept after weighing what it did well versus what it didn’t. On one hand, the mature themes within were handled well, but on the other hand the delivery could have been better. There’s also the matter of crashed and glitches, both of which could be addressed with a patch. In the interest of fairness, I give it a score of 6 as it’s got a better-than-average story with a more average delivery. If you can look past the bugs in its current state, Rainswept is worth a read at its asking price and will take you about 5 hours to complete depending on how quickly you read. If you’re looking for a grungy murder mystery in which you flex your crime solving guns, you may want to look elsewhere.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Gameplay - 6/10
Graphics - 5/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 5/10
In a quiet town called Pineview, a murder-suicide turns up more information than the residents knew about the deceased couple–and coincidentally about the detective working the case.
- Closure at the end of the tale.
- Lasting message addressing serious subjects.
- Delivery weaker in some aspects than others.
- Graphical glitches and bugs/crashes.
- Lacking in polish.