At first glance, Rainswept may look like just another point and click mystery game. Sure, it has the small-town mystery vibe, but its individual pieces contribute to a whole that is its own work.
Players arrive in the sleepy town of Pineview tasked with investigating the recent murders of a young couple. Many of the local law enforcement seems to know exactly what happened, but Detective Michael Stone is not so sure. Our leading character has his own struggles, and we experience his personal demons very early in the game as they build to a grand moment of resolution. His backstory is one of many moments where the writing shines in dealing carefully with difficult subjects as they come up. The mystery is drawn out over the course of the two or so hours the game takes to complete, but it never felt arbitrary or overly long, and no plot point felt unnecessary.
Controls consist of the standard WASD scheme for movement, coupled with either mouse clicks or the E key plus the arrow keys in an interaction wheel where players can examine, use, or talk. It’s simple, and it works quite well. Players must interview the townspeople of Pineview, each with their own quirks and personalities. They shine through thanks to pretty strong writing, which is fortunate considering the absence of voice-over in the game. The narrative weaves in and out of memories, allowing one to learn more about the couple through exploring their lives in the time leading up to the crime.
Nothing is ever as it seems in Rainswept, which it benefits from. The game wears many influences proudly but smartly navigates what players expect to happen for a conclusion this reviewer did not see coming. It has much to say about life and the many moments within it, as told by the various perspectives of everyone in the game. It’s hard to make a murder mystery resonate these days, but Frostwood Interactive succeeded beyond all expectations.
A feature which adds to the tone and feeling of the game is the art style. Though minimalist, it is nothing short of stunning. Several locations call for a zoom out of the camera, and we are treated to a wonderful view of the nature in and around Pineview. Everything from an individual, identifying character details to the colors in each location work well together, creating a unique little world that allows us to find, as one character teaches, the beauty in all things.
The soundtrack is another element that complements everything around it. At times full of synthesizers, and others jazzy, many of the emotional parts of the game would not have hit as hard without it, in addition to thoughtful sound design. In some instances, scenes play out and cut to black, letting the audio tell the story instead. Doing so is always a gamble, but it was worth the risk in this case. The developers seem devoted to ensuring the experience remains a pleasant one, as they have been steadily rolling out updates since the launch including platform and peripheral support.
The different aspects of Rainswept combine to make what could have easily been a generic small-town murder mystery game into something special. It becomes an experience that sticks with you, which is hard to do in a time where we are over-saturated with countless games and desensitized to smaller moments in them. With an art style all its own, the game is a great mark in the line of mystery and adventure titles that came before it, and that will follow it. With no gimmicks to distract you, once you set foot in the shoes of Michael Stone, you will want to continue playing until the credits roll. Future content exploring the town of Pineview or even Michael Stone’s adventures would be neat to see in the future, but for now, we just have to take in as much as we can.
*One word of warning, however—both the opening titles and the Steam page make note of this, but the plot handles heavy subjects including suicide and past trauma. Despite being aware of this going in, many moments still hit pretty hard, so please play at your own discretion and never be afraid to stop or seek help if you need to.
National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Colton is a computer science student at SUNY Fredonia who hails from Buffalo, NY and would much rather be writing articles, scripts, and poems than code. Find him stressing in your nearest coffee shop. A few of his favorite games are Half Life/Half Life 2, Resident Evil 4 and Super Mario 64.