It’s inconceivable to speak about Threat of Rain 2 with out first reflecting on Threat of Rain.
Few sequels have so efficiently amplified the strengths of their predecessors, and within the case of developer Hopoo Video games, few studios have so firmly grasped what made their earlier entry work nice. Threat of Rain 2 is a raucous, intelligent, and exceedingly bizarre sequel. It’s also thrilling and memorable — not merely as a result of it improves on what got here earlier than, however as a result of it recontextualizes a system that was already good to start with.
Threat of Rain was launched in 2013, towards the start of a roguelike renaissance that might result in the style’s mainstream ubiquity right now. Alongside video games like The Binding of Isaac and the unique Rogue Legacy, Threat of Rain’s core loop targeted on the repetition of procedurally generated ranges, whereas gamers may unlock everlasting gadgets and characters for future runs. However in contrast to its contemporaries — most of which had been extra involved with the accrual of talent and energy — Hopoo Video games appeared fascinated by the buildup of knowledge.
Threat of Rain’s signature mechanic, in any case, is within the identify itself. On this side-scrolling action-platformer, you battle your manner throughout 2D ranges seeking the Teleporter that may convey you to the following space. The catch? You’ll want to defeat a boss earlier than the Teleporter can perform. The second catch? The issue step by step will increase all through the run. You may stay in every space so long as you need, scouring each platform and cranny for weapons and upgrades, all of the whereas realizing that each second brings you nearer to the following tier of enemies, with bigger well being bars and extra diversified assaults.
I died shortly after taking this screenshot
Picture: Hopoo Video games through Polygon
Threat of Rain 2 asks the identical query as its predecessor: Are you actually prepared for the following encounter? Are you positive?
As a result of sure, you discovered a shoulder-mounted mortar, and sure, that teddy bear’s injury resistance will preserve a number of extra bullets at bay. However within the meantime, big flaming golems have began spawning, and people floating jellyfish have much more well being than they did earlier than you spent 25 seconds attending to the crate on that cliff. Should you’ve ever performed a sport or instrument, you’re in all probability accustomed to the paradigm Hopoo’s video games are constructed round: It’s possible you’ll be practising, however so is everybody else. And getting higher means gaining the knowledge to know whether or not you’re absolutely ready.
With Threat of Rain 2, Hopoo actually shifted perspective. It’s not a 2D side-scroller, however a third-person shooter set in 3D arenas. It was launched in early entry in 2019, earlier than its full model was launched in August 2020. I’ve been taking part in it on and off since then, dabbling every time Hopoo added a brand new character or biome. I all the time got here away impressed, if not absolutely hooked, by the whole lot I noticed.
However not too long ago, with the Survivors of the Void replace, I really dove in. And possibly it’s as a result of I spent the interim carrying myself out with a lot Spelunky 2 and Rogue Legacy 2 — video games that each one however perfected the artwork of 2D action-platforming — however immediately, Threat of Rain 2’s addition of a z-axis clicked. It felt gimmicky three years in the past, however now I’m enamored by the way it concurrently grants me extra management, whereas additionally giving me a lot extra to fret about. What’s extra, I’m taking part in sufficient to unlock extra characters and marvel at how Hopoo has tailored their abilities to work in a lot extra open house. The Loader is a singular pleasure — its Grapple Fist lets me soar via the air, marveling on the verticality and depth that Hopoo has squeezed out of the primary sport’s system, proper earlier than I punch a Magma Worm in its silly face.
The Engineer is the most effective character in Threat of Rain 2, please don’t argue with me
Picture: Hopoo Video games/Gearbox Publishing through Polygon
Ensconcing myself in Threat of Rain 2 jogs my memory, of all issues, of these early days with my household’s new Nintendo 64, when a easy shift in perspective was the whole lot. I wasn’t wanting down on Hyperlink via an invisible roof anymore — I used to be truly coming into the Deku Tree’s wood entryway and sensing the overstory excessive above me. I wasn’t simply leaping a lava-filled hole in Bowser’s Fort — I used to be aiming for a platform and lacking simply to the left, earlier than singeing my ass and rocketing again into the air with an opportunity to dictate the place I landed. Clearly, my infantile mind instructed me, there are complete butt-burning universes we have now but to discover.
I notice I’m waxing poetic right here. However like Ocarina of Time and Tremendous Mario 64 lengthy earlier than it, Threat of Rain 2 confirmed me simply how a lot a easy, elegant thought might be exploded to kind one thing much more elegant. Mario’s first Nintendo 64 outing, specifically, was proof that we by no means actually know what’s coming subsequent, and that the easy act of leaping may tackle utterly new which means, if solely designers can tilt their head to see it from a special angle.
Has Threat of Rain 2 had as a lot of an affect as Mario 64? In fact not. Its scope is decidedly slender and its ambitions are confined to a small world targeted on frantic fight in a simple, unending gameplay loop. However did Threat of Rain 2 reframe a sport that I nonetheless contemplate near perfection? Completely. Ought to Hopoo ever make a Threat of Rain 3, I’m hard-pressed to think about what it should appear like — my creativeness swims on the considered universes the studio hasn’t proven me but.