Open world RPGs are not scarce in the extensive game catalogue of Steam pages, but this is a first when it comes to the world of theatre. The Rainsdowne Players, by developer Steve O’Gorman, encourages us to bring out our inner creativity and shine on the stage.
All The World’s A Stage
The Rainsdowne Players is an open world RPG, centred on two main characters that you can name yourselves. Alongside two pet cats, the aim is to dominate the pages of newspapers and be the talk of the town with your theatrical plays and performances. The more you perform, the more heckling you must endure, but then the higher the popularity you gain.
However, performing pieces isn’t just about tapping a few keys every now and then, even if it is one of the premises. Before each performance, the player must choose from a set of cards to assign a subject, location, purpose, encounter, and outcome of the performance. The cards can be obtained through talking to characters or exploring different parts of Rainsdowne.
Outside of the rundown theatre are different areas of Rainsdowne that are free to explore, from costume shops to a bar run by an Octopus. With this open world exploration, the title provides hours and hours of gameplay; and so many opportunities to earn coins or meet new characters.
Ready Player One
The whole basis of The Rainsdowne Players is all in its mini-games, which you can play for many different reasons: to earn coins, to unlock cards, and to progress in the game’s different storylines. The first one the player will probably encounter is the theatre mini-game.
Two characters must dodge objects thrown at them by the audience in order to keep up audience attendance and earn more coins. The better you get at choosing cards and dodging objects, the more likely you’ll earn more cards and progress with the main story.
There are other mini-games you can stumble across the more you explore, such as sword fighting with a fellow competitive actor; singing by a piano of an Octopus’s establishment; and swimming to the bottom of the sea. There are many to choose from, which is what makes The Rainsdowne players a great, repeatable experience.
All The Time In the World?
One of the features that I am at an impasse with is the use of the running clock throughout the game. Each day lasts around 15 minutes, depending on how much you move to different locations and interact with people. After the end of each day, you need to return to the theatre to sleep in order to begin a new day.
Whilst the whole job of collecting cards and coins is prolonged by this running clock, the mechanic also gives the impression that every minute the player explores is valuable but also wasteful.
From first impressions it looks as if it will take weeks to collect all the cards, as the mini-games get increasingly more difficult and time is always running. Depending on whether the player likes their gameplay to be lengthy and challenging, or quick and laid-back, they won’t be seeing a completed card collection for a while.
It’s The Littlest Things
The first improvement that I feel could make this game enjoyable has to do with the user interface. When first playing The Rainsdowne Players, you are told to name your characters. A problem that I encountered was the sensitivity of the keys when trying to type out a name! It took multiple takes to get my chosen names spelt correctly, but it shouldn’t have to be like that.
Another issue I had was with trying to figure out the menu options. As an impulse, the ESC key would be my first option for a pause menu. When I attempted this at the beginning of my playthrough, the key actually sent me back to the beginning, and I had to start the game all over again. There isn’t really a pause button that won’t send you back to the main menu, so the clock keeps running.
If there was an improvement on these features, it would make the game feel more comfortable; especially in the eyes of the most casual players among us.
A Round Of Applause
Despite these troubles, however,The Rainsdowne Players cannot be faltered for its enjoyable gaming experience. There is so much to do within this game that there are many ways of playing through it, as well as guaranteed many hours or days of playthrough.
Its oddities and charm make playing the game a very comfortable and pleasant experience. The pixel artwork gives it a simplistic yet detailed atmospheric design, and the music complements its quirks pretty well.
No character is the same, as each have their own personality shining through; so it doesn’t feel like you’re talking to the same character all the time. Yes, this is short-lived when you’re on your tenth day and some characters begin to repeat what they’ve already said, but it doesn’t stand out too much to actually ruin the game.
The Rainsdowne Players is a typical open world RPG with every corner of the game bringing more and more surprises. The mini-games bring replayability to the whole experience, as well as its difficulty which makes them that more satisfying when you obtain a card from them.
If you look past the lengthy game time and its UI, then you will take something away from this game when you sit down and truly enjoy it. For those who are interested, visit the Steam store to find out more.