Rain of Reflections: Chapter 1 combines point and click adventure with turn-based strategy to share an interesting if slightly clunky sci-fi tale.
The future never seems to be a happy, comfortable place, does it? Whether it’s the nuclear wasteland of Fallout or the brutal chaos of Borderlands, the horizon often seems like a dark place in video games. For Rain of Reflections, the world is on the brink of a different kind of collapse, where infertility has taken over the species and what seems to be the last human child has already been born.
Rain of Reflections is a new episodic adventure game from Lionbite Games. Taking cues from science fiction and cyberpunk tropes and giving it an artistic flourish, the title focuses on Wilona, a scientist working on this infertility crisis who decides to free the last living child from captivity.
At its core, Rain of Reflections is a point and click adventure game, although strategic elements play a major part in the game's design. The player will have a look around its environments, solving puzzles and interacting with NPCs to try and get from section to section. It feels quite old-fashioned at times, although rarely as opaque as some of the traditional point and clock games that it emulates; Leisure Suit Larry it is not.
Nonetheless, there’s something comforting about the way in which Rain of Reflections sets itself up. There’s a noir quality and the enticing aspect of a mystery to uncover that feels similar to the tone of Broken Sword, albeit not quite as naive and excited in its approach. Even so, there’s still something classic about the way these adventure game moments are set up, although they do miss the welcome challenge that old-school games provided, and instead feel a little closer to modern peers like the Telltale Walking Dead games in terms of difficulty.
Rain of Reflections makes use of its near-future setting well here, utilizing the player’s ability to check out mise-en-scene to help grow an understanding of its world. The game clashes between baroque iconography, cyberpunk trappings and post-apocalyptic destruction, a blend that aims to showcase the sheer class divide which has befallen the world.
This leaves Rain of Reflections in a very different place to the other obvious choice of story that tells a tale of mass human infertility: Children of Men. Whereas P.D. James’s novel, as expertly updated and brought to the screen with 2006’s film adaptation by Alfonso Cuaron, showed a world fully on the edge, Rain of Reflections dives into how wealth and power can protect someone from the problems of the outside world, if only at a surface level.
Indeed, this first chapter of Rain of Reflections doesn’t quite have the depth of theme to really hit home. Its world is an interesting one, particularly the gulf between the gorgeous, rich environments of the upper classes and those who live outside of that bubble, but for now there’s not too much to dig into. With further chapters to go, however, there’s every hope that this will become more apparent with time.
There’s a cartoonish quality to Rain of Reflections, in part because of this lack of anything to get the teeth into. Its characters feel vibrant yet two-dimensional, from surly cab drivers to the strange people who live outside of society. There’s still a charm to it, an offbeat quirk that goes a long way in terms of overall enjoyability, but players will be hard pressed to truly grow interested in any of the characters as of yet.
Thankfully, there’s a variety of game modes to keep Rain of Reflections interesting. At times, the point and click elements will lead the players into hacking minigames, where they can unlock data, tap into communication systems, or bypass security systems to unlock gates or turn off electric fences. With three versions of these minigames, they never feel as awkward as notorious examples like the plumbing of BioShock or Mass Effect’s hacking, instead remain in place as a fun little diversion.
These also come up in the other core game mode, which takes the form of turn-based strategy. The player’s units – Wilona and eventually Luca – have to navigate through small arenas to reach an exit point. Although combat can happen, shooting at a ne’er do well in the undercity of the Trench or taking on the police in enclosed environments, the main emphasis here is still stealth, and it’s always best to avoid confrontation where possible.
Rather than health bars, instead the characters will have their motivation slowly taken away by enemy attacks. As such, a key part of this mode is effectively navigating the map, unlocking gates or turning off generators, and making it to the other side unseen. It’s not the end of the world if combat breaks out, but it is much simpler to stay out of sight wherever possible.
It’s actually a neat touch, and something that helps separate Rain of Reflections from other games of its ilk. The game ends up being closer in feel to Invisible, Inc. at times, but again is never too taxing. This is helped by Wilona's cloaking system, which allows her to temporarily become invisible to avoid being picked out by the police. This can be a real life-saver, but timing when to use it is key, and making sure that the player does not become too adventurous with their movements.
These main game modes blend together well, creating a neat first chapter for Rain of Reflections. There’s a lot of potential here, and its modes actually have the scope to expand more – particularly the turn-based system which could truly become a formidably difficult part of the game as the chapters go on. Should Rain of Reflections be able to meet that potential then fans of either genre could have a place to turn for something a little bit different.
As it stands, the first chapter of Rain of Reflections is still a strong one. It has its clunky moments, and probably needs more by way of story craft as the chapters unfold, but nonetheless there’s a hook here that players may enjoy. With more of the world to see and do, ideally the next chapter will pack an even bigger wallop.
Rain of Reflections: Chapter 1 is available for PC. Screen Rant was provided with a PC download code for the purposes of this review.