It’s well known that I have a weird love of games of dubious quality. I tend to seek them out and see just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Games like Troll and I, Rollercoaster Dreams, and Dark Legion represent the bottom of a barrel that I just can’t stop throwing myself at. When I saw Gene Rain I already knew it was going to reach those depths of badness I so crave. However, even I was impressed with just how much of a mess this game truly is.
My first impression of Gene Rain comes from its menus. Right away, I found it weird that it replaces “credits” with “producer”. Unable to stop myself, I dive into the options to find more weird translation issues. For example, “aim assist” is now called “auxiliary collimation”, which led to me spending some time figuring out the latter word’s meaning. One option, labeled “objective sensitivity,” says it controls how fast you turn while aiming. Yet another, this one called “zooming sensitivity of view” says it controls your “zooming speed of view during aiming”. Even the trophies have this problem, with one under the dubious name of “Ninjia,hum!”. I can’t say any of this made me particularly excited to play the full game.
The story follows three characters named Alex, Salman, and Li Ying. They’re part of a group called the Death Squad. After that, uh… I think there’s some event called Gene Rain where a bunch of humans got killed? There’s something about wind generators being shut down? There’s a mechanical heart which may or may not be alive? Simply put, the plot of Gene Rain is pure nonsense. How nonsensical it is can be is best summed up with the enemies in the game. They’re robots, because robots are evil, except actually some robots are good, and also the enemies are aliens, but actually they’re children with messed up genes, but actually they’ve lived underground the whole time and also those robots from before were actually humans and…
Yeah, it’s a mess. Gene Rain often features totally nonsensical scenes on top of all that. The opening cutscenes keep switching between bubbling lava, a burning forest, a squadron of World War 2 era planes flying, and a windmill. I’m not sure what any of this had to do with anything. Characters often shout lines that made absolutely no sense. Early on Salman pointed out an injured person by saying “There’s a man in that hallway”, except everyone was outside so I have no clue what he meant by “that hallway”. One time Alex said he was in the forest while standing in the middle of a desert. Another section saw a character pull a switch and declare that it doesn’t work, to which another character responds with “Ah. A place buried by sand in rumor.” What does that mean? The whole thing is baffling.
When it comes to gameplay, Gene Rain is a totally generic third person shooter. You’ll run around, take cover, and shoot waves of enemies. Most of the time, your opposition consists of dumb robots that stand around and wait for death. While that may make the game sound easy, most enemies have massive amounts of health that ensure you’ll be shooting them for some time. In a particularly strange move, every enemy in the game has a health bar to help you judge how long you need to shoot them for. However, this health bar is often inaccurate, with many enemies dropping dead when it’s only half empty.
You may think this would make Gene Rain a boring game, and you’d be correct. However, it also goes out of its way to be unfairly difficult. If there’s one thing it reveals in, it’s putting obscene amounts of enemies in your way and giving them absurd abilities. Several enemies that shoot straight through cover appear, as do foes with weapons strong enough to kill you in a single hit. One section pits you against a chaingun-wielding foe by yourself with no cover. It’s simply no fun, and many sections are rage-inducing.
It doesn’t help that checkpoints tend to be few and far between, or that the game likes to place them before long unskippable conversations rather than after. The fact that your health regenerates at the rate of a snail creates yet another issue. I counted a solid minute to get from low health back to full. It gives off the feeling that Gene Rain is trying to use artificial difficulty to pad out its six-hour runtime.
It’s not like you even have any fun weapons to fight these enemies with. Each character has the same three weapons. Of those three, the assault rifle is so useful that there’s no point to ever switch from it except for the rare times you need the railgun pistol to hit a particularly large foe. There’s also a submachine gun, but despite all my efforts, it’s so inaccurate that I never bothered to use it. You may occasionally find a “specialist weapon” around the world, giving you temporary access to fun things like sniper rifles or chainguns. It’s nice when it happens, but it’s not often enough to actually count on.
Each character also has a special ability to assist them while they fight. Easily the worst of the bunch is Salman, who has a shield he can put around himself to absorb damage. As soon as the game introduces this shield, they also introduce several enemies that can just shoot through it, making it useless. Alex can deploy a drone that shoots enemies for you, which is okay when it’s actually doing its job. Sadly, that’s rarer than it really should be. Li Ying has the most useful ability, allowing her to slow down time. Naturally, you only get to play as her for a single mission, so ultimately it doesn’t help enough.
Eventually, an upgrade system reveals itself, but that too proves to be poorly implemented. You can collect cores/parts (the game constantly switches between the two words) from enemies that you can spend on weapon upgrades. How do you collect these? By shooting already dead enemies until they explode. So yes, after every fight you need to wander around the field of battle and shoot corpses to get them to give up a few parts. You can also occasionally get “skill points” to nab some passive upgrades, but these just seem to pop up at random, usually after killing a particularly difficult enemy.
After you beat the game you unlock Defensive War, which is just a poorly titled horde survival mode. You can play as any of the three characters, but there’s only one map to play on. A new mechanic eventually lets you collect cores to speed up an ammo crate spawn. Otherwise, it’s just more boring Gene Rain. Why anyone would willingly subject themselves to more of this game is beyond me.
In addition to all of this, Gene Rain is an ugly game. Many of the assets seem resued frequently and feel totally out of place. Why are there burning rowboats in the desert? How come Alex looks like he stepped out of a Tron movie? Even worse is the game’s sound. Voice acting is absolutely terrible, with everyone sounding bored, confused, and unable to pronounce half the things they say. The audio mixing is also totally off, with lines alternating between “so quiet you struggle to hear them” and “so loud they dominate everything” with little rhyme or reason.
Gene Rain is certainly one of my new “worst of” for this console generation. The plot is nonsensical, the gameplay alters between generic and terrible, the game is way more difficult than it needs to be, nothing about it really feels like it works competently, and more issues than I could ever possibly list in a single closing paragraph. All I can really do is suggest avoiding this game. I have nothing nice to say.
Gene Rain was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by the developers. The game is also available on PC and Xbox One.
Gene Rain is a combination of so many terrible elements that at times it's genuinely, completely, baffling. At one point a character says "Existence has long been considered the only value in humans." I'm not sure I agree with him, because the other value in humans is their ability to not play Gene Rain.
- I Lauged at How Bad it All Was
- Dumb, Nonsensical Story
- Bad Translation
- Extremely Boring Gameplay
- Unnecessarily Difficult
- Horrid Voice Acting
- Many Reused Assets