Date: February 26, 2019
We’ve been keeping close tabs on Rainswept, a murder mystery puzzle game developed by Frostwood Interactive. We trialled the demo and now we’ve had the chance to fully jump in to the full game. How does Rainswept fair both as a puzzle game and as a murder-mystery story. Read on
As is often the case with Indie games, certainly with story-driven puzzle games such as Rainswept, it is the storyline that is the key to just how playable the game is. Rainswept doesn’t disappoint, as we follow Detective Michael Stone and his investigation into the deaths of Chris and Dianne.
When the couple are both found dead in the kitchen, the local police are convinced that Chris murdered Dianne, especially as rumours of a troubled and possibly violent homelife start to surface. Though Michael is convinced there is more to it, than simple murder-suicide.
With the assistance of Amy Blunt, a smart and empathetic officer, they unravel the truth behind they’re ill-fated relationship.
As murder mystery plots go, it’s pretty good. The case appears so open and shut that it simply has to be murder-suicide, but that nagging feeling in Detective Stone never goes away.
The small town is filled with a variety of characters, from the donut shop owner, the skateboarding teens, and even a songwriter who, with your help will finish writing his best-selling song. They all have their opinions on Chris and Dianne, not helped by their reclusive solitary existence.
Through the investigation there is another element that changes this from being a standard run-of-the-mill murder mystery. Something, I’m not going to go into too much detail on, is preying on Detective Stone. Something from his past that gives him more and more terrifying nightmares, that push him to close to madness.
Squashed into this game are three storylines, entwined together. The story of Chris and Dianne’s Murder, the story of Chris and Dianne’s life together and the traumatic incident that happened to Michael in his past. The story brings together and resolves all these threads in the one tale.
OK, so storyline aside, let’s take a look at how the game plays. Most of the time you’re controlling Detective Stone, although in flashback scenes you could be controlling other characters. In short you move around the screen and when you’re by any objects of interest, a little pop-up bubble will appear and show you the options available to you. Click on the option you want to have your character do that, simply click on the option you want your character to do with the mouse.
You can navigate through the streets of Pineview by moving up and down the street, and interacting with street signs in order to move to another street. Apart from the streets there are also notable buildings you can and will need to visit, such as the Sheriff’s Office, the Church and the Hotel where you are staying.
On the subject of the Hotel, when you go back to your room, you have the option of changing the clothes you’re wearing. Want to wander around Pineview in your casual clothes, or looking like you’re one coffee away from a major burnout you can. Though at the end of the day, you’re likely to want to slip into a bath and your pyjamas, before the terrifying night terror stake hold of you.
If there is one thing that’s a little bit trying it’s that there is no quick-travel, so travelling is always done by traversing the full lengths of Pineview back and forth solving the case. Having said that though, it does mean you’re going to find all those little conversations from the residents that help bring Pineview to life a little more easily.
Conversations are played out by clicking on the options you want your character to say. There is sometimes the option of a responding in different tone, sarcastic or empathetic etc. Though generally conversations play out until you have clicked on every option or left the conversation prematurely.
Gameplaywise that’s probably about it. You move around Pineview, speak to the local inhabitants and as the case develops, visit the major buildings as required. It’s not deep gameplay, but it’s wrapped around the story well enough to push it along. There is the occasional object-use puzzle but these are not as common as they would be in something like Monkey Island.
On to the more superficial aspects of Rainswept, graphically it has a simplistic charm and without judging it too harshly has a sort of Terrance & Phillip feel to it, almost as if at any moment Detective Stone is going to start singing rather colourful South Park songs.
Now, despite how that sounded, I don’t actually consider the graphics of Rainswept to be a bad point. Would realistic life-like graphics do anything to embellish this game at all? No, of course not. It’s simply the style that the developer chose to use. As a nice touch, there is a command where you can simply just stand there and smoke cigarettes.
The soundtrack composed by Micamic, the composer behind Harvester Games’ excellent 2012 indie title “The Cat Lady” sit’s in the background and neither grabs your attention nor deserts it.
Now, the big question once you’ve solved the Mystery of Chris and Dianne’s deaths, are you going to play the game again. Well, you should replay it at least one more time, as there are two different endings to witness. Other than that, well the game isn’t going to change much so it should be thought of like a book. If you’re the type of person who would read a murder-mystery book over and over, then you might replay Rainswept but if not, it will sit in your Steam collection collecting dust.