(PressFire.no): The year is 2027 and people can no longer have children. Theo is sitting in a cafe when a bomb explodes. No, wait, sorry, wrong. It's an indefinite year and people can no longer have children. Wilona stands at the window, staring thoughtfully at the rain.
Swedish indie studio Lionbite promises us an atmospheric, dystopian adventure game with strategic, move-based challenges, where you can explore and learn about a multi-layered world with multiple layers and diverse environments, and your choices will have "lasting consequences".
A multi-layered world, yes. Like an onion.
The starting point is good. It throws us into the head of Wilone, a scientist working to tackle sudden infertility in the world in a humid and cold cyberpunk future. You point and click around her apartment and find small clues about what's going on and what's going on in Wilona's head.
Before you know it, you get a video call from your protective mother, and lo and behold, the game begins – should you be disgusted or understanding when your mom wants you to remain in the terrorist threat of the company you work for?
Unfortunately, there is already a little rush here. I feel I control Wilon at random. I have no idea what her motivation is. I don't know what the relationship is with my mother. I don't know why I would decide to hang up when my mom calls me. I don't even know why I react when he mentions the terrorist organization Infrared. Am I a sympathizer? Double Agent? What am I really working on? Has my mom done something that deserves to be humorous? Why does it have the power to block me inside my own apartment if I'm rude? Who knows. I just press the choice of dialogue with little hope that I will not master my future self.
Unfortunately, this is a pervasive problem. I like games where the story is slowly but surely revealed to the player and the setting is customized for me. We talk that "Blade Runner" meets "Dream Fall" meets "XCOM" and the world that Lionbite presents is evocative and sexy, but the story in "Rain of Thinking" just doesn't come far enough during the introductory chapter of "Get Rid".
Because even though I read, research, and listen to everything I come across, after the first chapter, I am completely indifferent to what is happening to the people I have met in the last three to four hours because I have no idea what triggers them.
Hack the world
Through "Rain of Thinking" it seems very, very accurate. Mom locks me in my room because I'm rude, but luckily Wilon lives in a future where everything from computers, crammed little maintenance robots buzzing down the hallways and, of course, my apartment door can close.
Hacking consists of three types of logic puzzles and puzzles. One type requires you to control a small ball that is constantly gaining momentum based on previous moves across the board, and in the other you have to think three-dimensional to rotate the block to fit the given pattern.
It sounds tiny when I describe it, but these mini-games are surprisingly fun. They are largely intuitive, so it doesn’t take a lot of trying before you get down, but they remain challenging enough to make you feel fun during the game.
Wilona, of course, is a hacking genius, so I'm out of the apartment without a comma and nothing, and now it's time to preach. I'm ready for action! I'm just going to help this caregiver with a bit of a sad, contentious robot lingerie …
Motivation and team building
But I didn’t escape from an imaginative apartment and a leisurely lifestyle into an ugly and harsh reality just to hack. On the way out, we are stopped by two beaked snobs of a higher class who wonder if it is true that I borrowed my camouflage unit from work. Because, by the way, I'm not just a hacker genius, I'm a hacker genius with an invisibility cloak.
This invisibility cloak came in handy when it turned out that Mom had sent security guards behind us, and we were in the front row of the fight. It is thoroughly based and consists of shooting and firing, positioning and motivation and is in many ways a kind of indie version of "XCOM".
The matter of invisibility opens up to many creative solutions. Sometimes you can just talk yourself out of the whole situation, but usually the battle lines are about moving from point A to point B on the map, while being free to shut down, ambush you, move to a safer place, and knock down possible hiding places. whining about something that motivates a teammate and anything else you might want.
With impetus, it quickly becomes important. In combat, instead of a certain number of health points, you have a motivational system that you can influence both what you do and what happens around you. If you or your teammate run out of motivation to fight, it's over, and at first you don't even have a weapon that, in the worst case, could blow you out of tricky situations.
Wilona, for example, is the type who gets a little bit less ammunition, so she has minus points. Got a guard on a crate you recently hid? It's scary, minus the points. After all, it's a little annoying to tell a speeding salesman to guide you. Minus points. Did you shoot? Soon there will be many minus points. In the same way, you reward plus plus motivations when handcuffing or when you or your teammate convince each other that this is likely to go well.
Here, too, Lionbite did something really right. Admittedly, fighting never seems particularly difficult, but you still hold your breath when you hope that a hen like a storm won't hear you pedal in a pond with dirt or watch you sneak into a servant of a passing robot and charge you an invisible robe.
All textbooks are seamlessly involved in the game and there is little hand for developers. You can try playing around at your own risk, and nothing is particularly difficult at first, so you have room to explore in all aspects of the game.
Lionbite hits a lot of blinks. The genre combination of role-playing, adventure, puzzle-solving and strategy works very well, and the world they created makes me hungry for more. The frames are solid in place, but it all comes down to you when you find out more about the characters and their motivation on the cover of Rain of Thinking than in the game itself.
The problem is mainly that the game is far too short. It's impossible to know if all those choices I've made have anything to say, and since I've learned so little about the people I've met along the way, I just don't care when it's over.
It's very sad because the surroundings look really good, I'm really interested in the community and the class dynamics created by Lionbite, the different places you travel through and the strange people who live there, but I don't understand enough the plot or the motivation of the main characters that I really care about the fate of some of those involved when scrolling text appears across the screen.
Perhaps the next chapters of what the trilogy should be will do. I probably forgot all the decisions I made when the next part of the game came out and I probably don't care, if possible, even less about what's going to happen with Wilon and the gang.
"Release" is the first episode of Three, waiting to roll the dice until all three episodes come out.