Forest of Drizzling Rain
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Please be aware that this game alludes to issues of sexual abuse some people may find upsetting. See comment for details.
In Sanada Makoto's free indie horror adventure Forest of Drizzling Rain, translated by Tosiaki, university student Shiori Kanzaki finds herself alone on her birthday after the tragic death of her parents, who cut off ties to the rest of their family long ago. While cleaning out her family home and handling the orders for the funeral, she's shocked to come across a photograph of a man who can only be her grandfather, and as the months pass and the loneliness doesn't go away, she finally decides to try to visit the village written on the back of the photo. As it happens, the village has some strange local legends, and to say some people are a little off is putting it mildly. But Shiori can't shake a feeling that she's been there before, and despite the odd behaviour of troublemaker teenager Sakuma and the odder behaviour of the surly museum manager, Suga, who communicates only in written notes and carries a fake sword, Shiori is determined to find out why her family fled this place and cut all contact years ago. Use the [arrow] keys to move, hold [shift] to run, the [spacebar] to interact, and hit [ESC] to open the menu and save your game at any time. While many items will be used automatically when needed, you may need to open your inventory and manually use some of them for them to be activated. There are five different endings, all of which depend on your actions towards the end of the game, but make sure you save often and in different slots!
Forest of Drizzling Rain is a relatively straight-forward adventure, emphasizing story and exploration. Despite the rigid dialogue that comes across as a result of a translation that might be a little too literal, it's a surprisingly engrossing little adventure, largely because it manages to balance its pacing and buildup. Shiori is a sympathetic character, her loneliness well illustrated in a scene at the beginning of the game where she can't bring herself to put away all the stale remains of the birthday dinner her parents had laid out for her before they died. The whole horror itself is handled a bit less subtly, with foreshadowing so heavy all the characters should be walking bent at the waist, but even if you think you know what to expect, the way time is spent developing the characters and their circumstances makes it feel much more cohesive than if you were simply shunted from scare to scare.
That said, the gameplay might be a little too straight-forward for most. Apart from an annoying chase sequence or two, most of Forest of Drizzling Rain feels like it revolves too much around finding keys and simply collecting items, not involving enough actual puzzle solving. The game can drag a bit from time to time, and some puzzles or the means to get the "true" ending just aren't that intuitive, or are presented in an awkward way. Despite this, however, if you're looking for a cinematic adventure that deals with horror less through jump scares and more through subtle and disturbing content, Forest of Drizzling Rain is a good choice. The main cast is likable even if they embody some familiar tropes, and there are some genuinely tense scenes and fantastic use of sound. It's a game that could use a bit of polish in several areas, especially in its translation, but still offers enough mystery and creepiness to keep you playing through to the end. It's on the short side compared to some other freeware horror adventures, likely clocking in between an hour or two for most players, making it the perfect size for an unsettling evening's play. If you like stories of childhood friendship, revenge, and justice, Forest of Drizzling Rain is well worth checking out.
Thanks to Catzcradle for sending this one in!
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