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Game Reviews Games The 1 to 5 on Games

The 1 to 5 on games: Rain on your parade

This format is a shorter, more to the point, off-shot of the normal review/op-eds I normally do. A ranking will be given at the end from a scale that starts at (from the lowest to the highest): Bad – meh – fine – good – great. Anything not appropriate for these “scores” will likely warrant a more in-depth discussion, which is what I normally do, so this range does not cover all games, just the ones that I think are suited to this format.

A while back – when games like God of War were getting critical appraise – there was a term that started being used; the “dadification” of protagonists and games. It was meant to embody the fact that a lot of people making and playing games started being parents themselves and wanted to experience/create something that was about that; I never really cared for that term or that sentiment for various reasons, but I did enjoy the memes that it created. Rain on your parade is a goofy, silly, physics-puzzle game that made me want to coin the term “grandparentification”. It is less about the fact that the main story is about a grandparent telling his grandson a night-time tale and more about how that story – and its representation in gameplay form – reminded me of what I idolized about my grandparents, and how they were slightly different from my parents in how they behaved around me and how they tried to teach me things.

That’s not to imply that this is the game’s intent. Most likely, the game’s story came from a place of convenience; the developers had some pretty cool ideas about creating physics-based sandboxes where the player has some loose goals to meet and lots of goofy ways to achieve those – and most importantly, to cause havoc and laugh at the mischief they made. How do you fit in a linear progression of abilities, cosmetic changes, fun but ultimately harmless chaos, alongside some 4th-wall breaking jokes and stages? Contextualize it as a story being told by a grandparent to his grandchild so he can get him to sleep; the escalations, villain, and progression is simply the child getting restless, so grandpa keeps his attention with a cool new ability or a boss encounter, while the harmless fun is part of the family-friendly joy inherent to the concept.

The rest of the game, however, doesn’t feel like it takes the concept seriously. The look of cloudy, the protagonist, is a cardboard paper cut out with marker drawings for a face (if you choose), while the world is plasticky and glossy; the music is quirky, fitting the tone, but doesn’t really signal an intent for something more ambitious. The writing is funny, but mostly forgettable, and the gags are more referential of pop-culture rather than grandpa-friendly material. There’re even “homages” to classic video games like Metal Gear Solid and The Elder Scrolls, alongside some great surprises.

For me, it was less the content and more the ethos of what was presented that made me think of my grandparents; it felt like my most vibrant memories of my grandmother were captured in spirit. This wonderful woman who went through hell, but never had an angry inch in her wrinkled and fragile body, who would bask in happiness when she made us laugh and would be visibly reinvigorated every time, she saw us. Rain on your parade just feels like the devs wanted the player to hold the controller, giggle constantly, and be entertained by the surprises, the challenges, the gags, the animations, while they are re-energized by knowing how much you would enjoy those features. It’s less about challenging you to be better or trying to teach you something, like a parent would, but more about making sure you enjoy yourself and through that (and the happy mishaps) hopefully grow, but having fun is the priority.

I’m not saying you should buy Rain on your parade, because it would remind you of your grandparents; that is an impossible prediction to make. I’m saying that because of all the childish glee it managed to get from me, because of the mischief sandboxes they made, the general polish, and how fun and joyful the entire experience feels, you should buy Rain on your parade because it is GREAT; for me, it did have a personal touch that reminded me of some people that are very important and valuable to me, not because it wanted to do that, but because it just happened to share some values and be about those same people; my grandparents, who would tell me stories and try to chase me with their cones and walking assists, because they knew it would make young me laugh his heart out, which filled theirs with joy and love.

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