Rainy Day by Toulou is a very promising platformer demo available to play for free in your browser via itch.io. The game, in its current form, is very short. The few available stages, most of which consist of an early-game tutorial, are playable in minutes, but as the difficulty scales up–and it does, very quickly–it may take you longer than expected to make it out of the storm.
Or maybe that’s just me. I am admittedly terrible at this sort of twitchy platformer, such as the works of Matt Thorson (Jumper, Celeste) or Terry Cavanagh’s VVVVVV. This is the sort of game where precision and fast reflexes are of utmost importance and spamming buttons is severely punished (and if you’re playing on a laggy computer like I did… All I can say is good luck). This early demo doesn’t hurt too hard, mind you–missing a jump will set you back a couple of screens at most–but there are clear signs that the completed game will be replete with tricky jumps, complex platforming puzzles, and save points set just far enough apart that overshooting on a single jump might ruin an afternoon (I mean that in a good way.)
On the surface, however, Rainy Day doesn’t come off as especially challenging. As I said, the first few screens of the side-scrolling game comprise a tutorial for the game’s basic mechanics. They’re pretty straightforward: move left and right with arrow keys, up-arrow to jump, and press X to equip or unequip your umbrella, which you pick up after mastering jumping. But the game delivers this information in a charming, unassuming way. Rather than didactically telling the player to press this or that, the game’s monologue, which appears as onscreen text, is written from the perspective of the avatar, who appears only as a fragile little dot in the great big world.
Rainy Day has pared down visuals, but oodles of personality. The ascii graphics are a simple but surprisingly expressive aesthetic choice, and the writing and level design make the humble, monochrome game feel richer and more alive than a game that has advanced photorealistic graphics, but no voice, might feel. For example, the little dot says things like “That’s neat.” when letting the player know that they can glide between platforms a little bit when the umbrella is equipped. It’s a small thing, but it adds a lot of colour to a game.
The premise is also straightforward: our little dot friend wants to go for a stroll out in the rain, but if they touch the rain, they will dissolve. To compensate for this, the umbrella protects them from the rain, as does hiding under various platforms. To advance, the player must be able to jump, but the twist is that it’s impossible to jump with the umbrella equipped. The conceit is that the player must learn how to balance the need to jump with the need to equip the umbrella, while also figuring out the correct path to advance from save point to save point. These paths are often non-linear, requiring a lot of jumping back and forth between platforms to reach a new area, and like any similar game, these puzzles may continue for several screens before they can be resolved.
Rainy Day isn’t much to look at in its current form–it’s only a few screens of sidescrolling gameplay–but it’s clever and charming design, adorable concept and deceptively hard gameplay should be enough to give platformer masochists something to look forward to. For now, spare a few minutes to check out the demo for free, and follow Toulou on itch.io for more updates about full releases in the future.