Number of Reviews: 2
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Desert Railroad, August 21, 2011
Bringing the Rain was written under the narrow coding restraints of the ADRIFT EvenComp. (In this case, 8 rooms, 12 objects, 14 tasks, 2 events and 4 characters.) It tackles these restraints with a heavily linear structure and essentials-only approach to scenery, thus managing to get in a rather longer plot than the constraints would normally support.
It's a fantasy quest minus the swords, a third-son kind of story. Your town is suffering a prolonged drought, the witch Melda is holding the town to ransom, and you need to bring the rain back.
At its outset, the game presents you with two courses of action: investigating Melda, or going straight to Feather Mountain. If you go to Feather Mountain first, the story assumes that you've already taken the other path and found an important item. The bug isn't fatal, but it is pretty disruptive. Travel is often described in static room descriptions, and room descriptions don't reflect things you've taken or destroyed. Scenery implementation is very limited; this is largely due to the comp constraints, but it does make for a moderate amount of pointless frustration. Apart from this, the correct action is usually obvious and the story flows easily.
The writing is competent but not striking, and the story feels much the same way. It's a very basic plot; that isn't inherently a bad thing, but I came away feeling unsatisfied. Having conceived of its basic story, Bringing the Rain doesn't really add anything to it; the wicked witch is as wicked as you'd expect, the protagonist is thinly characterised, the challenges are unchallenging. I began to be a little irritated with the wicked-witch-is-wicked plot, but it's fairly clear that the story isn't interested in trying to make any kind of ethical point. Everything feels adequate and un-elaborated, which is acceptable in individual elements as long as they're in service to something. In this case, I think the author's interest lies in big dramatic spectacle: (Spoiler - click to show)the great avalanche, the exhilaration of flight, the elemental power and beauty of the gryphons. This is a difficult kind of effect to render in a non-graphical format, particularly an interactive one; if the most interesting elements of an IF piece are in the cutscenes, it's worth considering whether it needs to be IF.