Wednesday, February 20

Review: The Rainsdowne Players [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Simplicity when it comes to video games can make them tricky to review. Certainly there are many examples of titles that leverage great, though basic, ideas and make them work. However, I’d say more often than not when you’re surrounded by options, with the eShop continuing to see a substantial number of releases every week, simple games end up feeling shallow and a bit boring. Though it does throw in some charm, quirk, and elements of variety The Rainsdowne Players just never manages to pull itself away from its “not ready for prime time” roots.

In the game you’ll play as a duo of budding thespians out to make an impression and find success running a local rundown theater. Your job is a bit of an uphill battle as your crowds will always tend to be very particular in their tastes and unruly, early on even sharing their thoughts in the form of throwing things at you while you perform. While you’ll end up being able to move to other venues, and this will change the nature of what amount to the mini games you’ll play to execute your “performance”, the game’s action never gets terribly interesting.

To compensate for the lacking action you’ll need to talk to audience members looking for inspiration and ideas on how to put together a better performance. Some people will provide more general information or silly dialogue but the picky people are the ones you’ll often be looking to impress in the hopes of unlocking new cards which will open the door to different options as you construct your plays structurally. Choosing the play’s Subject, Location, Purpose, Encounter, and Outcome as you shuffle ideas into different slots you’ll be able to get different reactions from different people at different venues and this puzzle element is what serves as the glue to hold the game together.

Unfortunately, even though there are some silly moments and initially new venues and their mini games can be of momentary interest there’s no missing the bare bones gameplay here. Too much time is wasted walking around, talking to people, and churning through different combinations of elements in the hopes that you worked out what particular people were looking for. The reward for progress is often too limited when put up against the effort, making The Rainsdowne Players tough to justify giving time to even if its ideas and presentation may be novel.

Score: 5.5

  • Has plenty of quirk and charm
  • If you’re willing to invest the time and effort there’s more variety as you make your way to new venues than is implied in the early going

  • Too many of the mini games are far too basic and get to be a chore to repeat through multiple performances
  • Trying to figure out what combination of elements will please people can sometimes be aggravating as your guidance is often pretty vague
  • The game, as a whole, just never really gets off the ground to make a serious case for attention in a crowded eShop