Every hardship you face in a positive light is met with positive relief. This is the theme of AYO: A Rain Tale, a game about a girl named Ayo tasked with the dangerous job of gathering water for her people. This daily struggle of water gathering is very real for those in Africa and in other parts of the world, especially for girls and women.
Ayo: A Rain Tale is a puzzle platformer from Inkline that has great intentions – to portray the culture and the daily fight that some people in Africa still deal with. Unfortunately, the game stumbles in some areas that tarnish the overall experience.
Ayo is an aesthetically gorgeous game with simple left, right and jump controls. The game begins rather simply with your mother and a village elder giving Ayo some words of advice and wishing her well before seeing her off on her journey. There is no voice acting here, but the story told through various cut-scenes and in-game text pairs well with the level design, music, and gameplay. The art style is great and it works wonderfully on both iOS and PC where we played the game. The video options on PC are basic with a quality meter and resolution options up to 2715×1527.
Throughout the game you will also encounter “Asili Twins” and elders who guide you throughout your journey. They will give you the knowledge and abilities that add mechanics to the game, such as digging through tunnels or pushing rocks to reach new areas. As AYO: A Rain Tale progresses, the difficulty increases with these new mechanics, creatures, and obstacles. On paper, this all sounds incredible and fun, but some very confusing and clunky game decisions were made that failed to impress us.
AYO’s premise and music are fantastic. The tone and characters throughout the story are well-designed and the core of the game is very pleasing and intriguing. Unfortunately, levels often lack content and are set with bland backgrounds especially early on. AYO should have flowed and turned up the intensity instead as most of the puzzles and levels felt very simple and lacked any true difficulty.
Most of these bad design choices and frustrations are evident throughout most of the game. However, as AYO progresses, the abilities you learn and use finally become enjoyable, and the ending is satisfying as you finally finish your journey. As mentioned, the platforming never truly became challenging even with multiple abilities and it will be easy to pick up for any gamer. You may die over and over again but the challenges are never hard to figure out here.
The in-game camera is one of the most bizzare design choices in AYO. The camera is often jarring, and seemingly by design, it lags behind your movements for a second, and it is not easy on the eyes. The camera is constantly zooming in and out and can even cause unnecessary deaths, and that is truly frustrating.
A lack of proper pacing and extremely generic platforming just serve to frustrate the player, and it quickly becomes a chore. While the environment, music, and real-life premise are amazing, I found it very difficult to finish the game even though the game has very lenient checkpoints that put you back in the action immediately. There is no real consequence for dying.
AYO: A Rain Tale is simply a game that could have been but never was developed properly. The real-life struggles of African people needing to obtain water to survive is very important and it needs to be told. We often forget how many of life’s basic needs are difficult to obtain in developing parts of the world. That story is portrayed well here but the gameplay choices hindered our enjoyment and it will likely fail to connect with most players looking for a challenging title.
If you want a similar type of game that is a good platformer with great music, great platforming, and challenging difficulty, we would instead look at a game like Rayman Jungle Run that knows how to create an amazing atmosphere and utilize great characters, while being unforgiving and difficult to master yet remaining fun to the very end.
The overall journey Ayo goes on is enjoyable if you have the patience to sit through 3-4 very bland chapters. The quest for water seems so heartbreaking and difficult and we can just imagine Ayo having to do it all over again the following day. The game has some serious flaws that will turn away many people, but if you aren’t too picky and have a smartphone we recommend getting it on a mobile platform as we can not recommend paying the higher price on PC.
Ayo: A Rain Tale is available now on PC for $9.99 and AYO is also on Android and iOS for $2.99.