Rain, rain, go away…
In Los Angeles, it rains so infrequently that when the skies finally do decide to bless us, it’s almost a magical experience that makes me want to stay indoors and snuggle up with a good book. This is in contrast to where my husband grew up in Hong Kong, where the warm rains weren’t enough to deter him from playing outside or going about errands. Then there’s Inasa Fujio, a game developer who romanticizes their country of Japan through slice of life scenes in gaming, who paints the Japanese summer rains through the lens of a young boy stuck indoors in their latest self-published game, Rainy Season.
Available on Steam and itch.io for $3.99, Rainy Season follows the story of a young boy stuck in his grandmother’s house due to rain, spending his time bored instead of at the amusement park they had initially planned on visiting. A short experience that can be completed in less than an hour, Rainy Season whisks players into a past that isn’t theirs, a nostalgic getaway to a world of mixed realities. How will you pass the time on such a gloomy summer day, and how will you remember this snapshot of your personal history?
Rainy Season has been described as a walking simulator, which makes sense, but that’s only because the genre “daydream simulator” apparently doesn’t exist. The mechanic in Rainy Season is to walk around your grandmother’s house, passing time while waiting for the rain to dissipate. Like any young child, you possess an active imagination, and certain items or areas will trigger daydreams that make you question what is real. The doll on grandmother’s shelf speaks to you, but does she really? The closets contain secrets, like a spirit or a doorway to a completely new world, but is that true? The mind of a child is a curious thing, and I’m certain we all have memories of our imaginations running wild just like this.
In between daydreams, your family will go about their daily life around you. Your aunt still has to go to work, your mother has decided to run errands, and your grandmother watches over you and your sibling diligently. Again, this moment frozen in time, although it feels like any other, creeps up on you with its importance. How many of us are still fortunate enough to have our loving grandmothers in our lives? How fast the days of carefree innocence slipped us by, where waiting for rain to end was our biggest concern. That nostalgia was more relatable than anything else — that feeling of being a kid again and accepting our small role in the family hierarchy.
Although Rainy Season is a visually beautiful game, it might be a little too out of reach for those who aren’t nuanced in Japanese culture. There are certain objects that are meant to be nostalgic callbacks to summer, such as the pig incense burner or the rainy day ghost crafts called teru teru bōzu, that are absolutely specific to Japan and may lose all meaning to those unfamiliar. And if I’m being honest, that’s the simple stuff — you can easily find literature on what those objects are, but some of the daydreams, like the giant cat or the floating jellyfish, leave me at a loss for any larger meaning. I could just chalk it up to it being a young child’s imagination, but I’m sure there’s plenty of cultural context I’m missing, none of which comes with an explanation offered.
Despite the missed cultural learning opportunity, Rainy Season does what it sets out to do — provides a nostalgic experience about a boy bored in the house while waiting for the rain to pass. It’s an incredibly soothing slice of life adventure that truly allows players to feel like a child again, complete with a wild imagination and plenty of time on their hands. It’s a cozy little title that, for about the price of a warm cup of coffee, can brighten up an hour of your day, and in 2020, anything that can do that is worth the price of admission.
Rainy Season isn’t so much a game as it is an experience — one that will soothe the senses and bring peace through childlike wonder. It’s a short and sweet trip down someone else’s memory lane, but it’s a path that will feel familiar to all. If you enjoy slice of life experiences and want a quick palate cleanser between bigger titles, you really cannot go wrong curling up with Rainy Season.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Inasa Fujio; Developer: Inasa Fujio; Players: 1; Released: May 1, 2020; MSRP: $3.99
Editor’s note: This review is based on a copy of Rainy Season purchased by the reviewer.