When I saw the trailer for Rain On Your Parade, my initial reaction was “its probably like Untitled Goose Game, but with soaking items to cause chaos instead of moving items”. That statement isn’t entirely wrong, but it massively understates the game’s charm and character.
From start to finish, Rain on Your Parade is filled with creative levels covering a surprisingly wide range of styles for a concept that could so easily have been a one-note joke. Every part of the game fits together coherently, from the interactive start screen that acts as a pre-game controls tutorial, to the credits level that contains its own mini-games. It feels like a complete game rather than just a collection of levels. Even the world map contains hidden characters to talk to and secret areas to discover.
So what is in Rain’s world? As Rain is set inside a bedtime story, Cloudy’s epic quest to reach Seattle is filled with an eclectic mix of characters and locations. The locations include schools, beaches, moshpits, game development conferences, and desert canyons filled with lasers. Although Cloudy has to overcome rhyming villain Dr Dryspell, who wants to eradicate clouds so that he is never rained on again, they are helped along their way by a cast of eccentric friends. Some of these are typical adventurer’s mentors, like the wise old cloud, while others are more unusual; Froggie introduces himself by claiming to be the hero from “a famous 90’s video game”, and later recruits turret-wielding monkeys to help you on your way.
The first few levels of Rain are almost impossible to fail, as they are simply about getting used to the objectives system and how long the rain meter lasts. However, Rain quickly goes beyond its title and introduces new sources of power for Cloudy. Hovering over any bubbling liquid lets Cloudy rain down that liquid instead, whether its corrosive goo, coffee, cleaning fluids, or even petrol. Cloudy also gains new permanent abilities such as lightning strikes and snowfall, which can be combined to create even more chaos. To give just one example, snowing on people (hoomans, in this world) to turn them into a snowball can be followed with a lightning strike to propel that snowball around the level. Similarly, raining petrol in an unbroken line from a fire source lets you trail fire across the level and cause major destruction.
Despite how painful those forms of destruction sound, Rain’s characters are quick to remind you that you’re inside a story, that you’re not causing any real harm, and that you only need to think about having fun and relaxing. The wise old cloud even tells you that the hoomans are made of squishy yarn, which means that turning them into a snowball and rolling them down a hill isn’t hurting them.
Each of Rain‘s 50 levels contains between 1-5 objectives,where 1-3 are required to progress and the others are optional. Completing the optional objectives unlocks a new hat or accessory for Cloudy. Some of the hats and accessories are shout-outs to other games – including to a more famous gaming Cloud – and a few are linked to secret objectives or achievements when they’re worn during specific levels. For example, try taking a chainsaw to the Cloudy Hills level!. As well as dressing Cloudy up, you can also give him any face you want using the built-in paint tool… or anything else you can draw, really.
(I’m sure that won’t get misused for screenshots at all…)
While many of the levels feature the expected focus on causing chaos by soaking and moving specific items, others borrow from familiar gaming styles including RPGs, wave defence, and Katamari Damacy-esque rolling. Generally, the main objectives of each area are simple, except for the levels centred around foiling Dr Dryspell’s plans and invading his secret base. These are tricky because Dryspell’s turrets can rapidly drain Cloudy’s rain meter (which doubles as a health bar).
Interspersed amongst these occasional challenging sections are breather levels – areas designed purely to give you something novel and relaxing to do. One of these areas is a bowling rink, which is a great way to get to grips with Cloudy’s tornado ability. After completing all of the main levels, and dabbling with some of these side areas, my first play-through of Rain lasted around 3.5 hours. For me, that felt like the right length: so much of this game’s appeal comes from its style that attempts at padding it out would have risked wearing out its charm. Also, the game isn’t a one-and-done experience, as the New Game Plus mode unlocks bonus objectives for every level. When these bonus objectives ask Cloudy to not use a specific ability, the levels then need to be approached more thoughtfully. For a basic example, an early level which requires soaking hoomans gains a bonus objective of “Do not use rain”. Now that its NG+, and Cloudy has more powers to use, one new way to approach that level is to tornado all of the hoomans into a nearby pool.
I have very few complaints about Rain on Your Parade. One of the few negative experiences I had with the game was in a unlockable area that takes place in a first-person perspective. This area is a cool extra, and it does a good job of feeling like the game its referencing. However, I felt quite disoriented while navigating through it, especially when using Cloudy’s tornado power. As I don’t normally get motion-sick in pancake (non-VR) games, I think people who do get motion-sick in games might want to avoid this level.
My other minor gripe is with a achievement that involves doing literally nothing (aside from keeping your controller awake) for an hour. I’m not a fan of this type of achievement anyway, but its especially jarring in a game that doesn’t rely on padding in any other circumstance. These two minor annoyances don’t get in the way of Rain’s cute brand of chaos, however.
I’m surprised by how much I loved Rain on Your Parade. I gave it a try because it was on Game Pass, and I was expecting to find it enjoyable for a short time. However, playing it feels like stepping into a bubble of unfettered chaotic fun, a feeling that’s incredibly rare to find in modern games. Its combination of short levels with small objectives, then a New Game Plus mode that adds extra challenges and requires more consideration for invested players, works really well. It keeps the main game at a casual length so that its style and humour doesn’t wear on players, while at the same time it provides a way for fans to experience more of the gameplay.
Its self-aware nature and allergy to the fourth wall comes across as funny and feels like a respectful homage to other games and media. Developers Unbound Creations completely succeeded at making a creative, handcrafted-feeling, comedic game. It takes a lot of thought and planning to produce a world this jokey and silly without it being annoying! It’s probably obvious by now, but I’m putting Rain in my Amazing tier out of sheer enjoyment: I don’t think I’ve ever called a game adorable before, but Rain On Your Parade deserves that descriptor.