The sun is out, the weather is fair, and you are a terrible cloud.
There’s no mistaking the Untitled Goose Game and Katamari Damacy influence behind Rain on Your Parade, a new game set in Seattle, made by a mostly-Seattle-based team, and starring a terrible chaotic cloud. As the cloud, you will be asked to drench weddings, snow on driveways, and generate cyclones that toss debris hither and yon; all the while, little humans run about, screaming in dismay.
In my capsule review at the start of the month, I noted that the game felt just a teeny bit cruel. In Katamari, the humans often squeal with delight when they’re rolled into the ball. In Goose Game, the stakes are absurdly low (someone might get a wet slipper). I had a feeling that Rain on Your Parade might feel too mean. But then I played it, and I discovered the unbridled joy of striking crowds of people with lightning.
If I may get all Mudede-esque about this for a moment: The French philosopher Henri Bergson once described such comedy as a “temporary anesthesia of the heart,” a numbing of sympathy for just a moment that allows you to laugh at a stranger’s misfortune.
The first level of the game requires that the player ruin a wedding, which made me uneasy. But the second involves extinguishing a dumpster fire, which in contrast seems downright altruistic. (At least, until the human characters get too close to the dumpster and catch on fire.)
Later, you’ll use your rainy powers to grow trees, your cyclone to gather cows onto a train, and your lightning to return an alien to its spaceship. The most arresting level describes a child who neglected to invite another kid to a birthday party; your job, as cloud, is to “set all presents on fire” by spreading the flames from a birthday cake. There is also a level in which you must set fire to an office; the workers all rush to the door, but because of the game’s physics, they wind up creating a barricade that traps them inside with the flames. When you are good, you are very good indeed; and when you are bad you are horrid.
Mitigating all this suffering is the adorable art style, which renders everything — including flames — as cutesy arts & crafts. The humans are Lego-style figures, the trees are yarn, the cloud is cardboard. It’s all imaginary fun, so it doesn’t feel as though you’re dooming your soul as thoroughly as it would in higher fidelity.
As for the fun: Oh yes, it is that. Cruising around and blasting little landscapes is a stupid delight, as is the chaos as the toys frantically try to run away. I experienced a pleasant “just one more level” feeling that made it hard to tear myself away. (The game can be completed in twoish hours, if you’re hyper-fixated on finishing, though there’s plenty of replay potential.)
But I did find myself missing the secret sauce of other comedy-chaos games. Each level generally has only one “solution,” which typically involves searching for specific items to soak. It lacks the open freedom of a Katamari; and there’s seldom any puzzle-logic to tickle your brain like in Goose Game.
I found myself stumped by a level that asked me to rotate a camera; at first, I thought that I needed to coax the subjects of the picture to move, thereby making the camera operator pivot. But that was overthinking it — instead, I just needed to hunt around the level for a button that would rotate the camera for me.
Comedic cause-and-effect was a source of great delight in Goose Game but it’s in shorter supply here. Rain on Your Parade is a bit more like Donut County, which similarly has only one way to progress, rather than presenting the player with choices. (I could have also done with more Seattle theming!)
But these are smallish quibbles that I only bring up because the game is otherwise a great pleasure. It is a delight to romp your way through the fifty (!!!) levels, some of which present surprising shifts in game mechanics; and I think streamers will find particular success in the silly anarchy that the game provides. Just be sure to keep your heart anesthetized.
Score: ⛅⛅⛅⛅☁️ (4/5)
Available April 15 via Steam, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch.