8 things I wish I knew before I started playing Rain World

By now, if you’ve any interest in survival platformer Rain World, you might have cottoned on that it’s hard. I said as much in my review, and many have echoed the sentiment since the game launched yesterday. Still, you probably want to persevere. While the game does have a cryptic yellow ghost as a guide, that little jerk barely explains the game’s weird systems. So that’s what I’m going to do, in as spoiler-free fashion as possible.

These are for beginners, by the way: hopefully this guidance will make the opening hours less painful and more enjoyable, as you’ll kinda know what’s at stake immediately and, happily enough, you’ll know how the game works right from the beginning. 

The importance of hibernation

Apart from dying at the hands of Rain World’s enemies, this is probably the main barrier to entry for newcomers. The game explains that you must eat in order to hibernate, and that hibernation can only be done in special waterproof chambers which also serve as save checkpoints. What it doesn’t explain is that every hibernation has a deeper effect on the world, and crucially, so does every death.

When starting out, understand that every hibernation and death moves you up and down a ladder respectively. Rungs on this ladder are marked by a symbol. Why is the symbol important? Because you need to be on the right “rung” in order to unlock certain crucial thoroughfares to other areas of the world. Ie, these things.

Notice the symbol at the top of the left glyph, above slugcat? That needs to correspond with the symbol on the bottom left of the screen – the “rung” I was currently on when I took this screenshot. What if you’re not on the right rung? You’ll need to hibernate enough times to climb onto it. Yeah, that’s painful I know. But such is life. 

The importance of death

While hibernating will move you up a rung, if you die, you’ll move down a rung. That means if you’re climbing (or let’s face it, grinding) to reach the correct “rung” and die on the way, you’ll lose a fair bit of progress. Keep dying, and things will get even worse. Does this suck? Yes. Do you need to deal with it if you want to play this relentless videogame? I’m afraid so.

Is there a way to make death suck less?

Yes, there are little golden flowers – usually found around the vicinity of hibernation chambers – which will lock you to the current rung on the ladder for one death. It’s better than nothing. 

How do I deal with being (and feeling) rock bottom?

The ranking / symbol / season system is punishing, but it does at least demonstrate that even though you feasibly could be moving through the first handful of Rain World’s areas quickly, you really shouldn’t. The way I survived was thus: try to roleplay the slugcat. If you were a useless little cat-that-is-also-a-slug, would you move on from an area while perfectly good food is still available, especially given food (which doesn’t respawn) is scarce?

Make sure you’re well fed before daring to rest at a new hibernation chamber. Do a few quick reconnaissance runs (but get back before the rain!) Take it slowly. Focus on eating. If you’ve got empty food slots, make sure they’re bloody well full. I can’t stress enough: playing this game like it’s a rush through levels, is bad. Take your time. Focus on survival. Move on when you have to.

About that rain…

Bring up your map. The little dots around the rung / season meter in the bottom left of the screen counts down to when it will start raining. Keep an eye on it.

Can I survive outside of hibernation chambers if it rains?

Haha, no.

So, where do I go?

There are broadly two places you can go in the beginning of Rain World. Avoiding spoilers, both of these areas are gated by one of those symbol doors pictured earlier in this article. I’ll just say this: the first one of these doors you’re likely to encounter is the one you’ll need to go through. Or to be more specific: don’t go down, go up.

Or, if you want spoilers: go to the bloody Industrial Estate. That is, up into this purple glowing tunnel and through the glyph door (pictured below: if you don't know where this is yet you probably don't need to move on).

Slugcat is very bad at jumping. How do I make him less bad?

You can’t, but there are skills that he has that you might not know about. Doing a long jump is well explained at the beginning of the game, but he can also do a backflip jump which is achieved by pulling back at the moment you start jumping. Practice a bit: it’s fiddly but once you figure it out, you’ll be happy. Also, there are poles strewn around the world which you’ll probably use to throw futilely at enemies. They have another useful function too: throw them at certain types of walls and they’ll stay there, meaning you can feasibly get places you thought were impossible. Make sure you aim properly though, because once they’re stuck in walls you can’t pull them back out.

Also, I was stumped in the early hours thinking certain jumps were impossible. It’s worth persevering sometimes, and remember if you’re plunging towards a platform you’ll need to press “up” at the right moment in order to catch it.

Why should I persist with this game when real life is difficult enough as it is?

Because it’s a fascinating world and progress is rewarding. But yeah, life is difficult enough as it is. I’m confused, really. Tell me if you arrive at an answer.

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.