Review – A Gentle Rain

agr-tabletop-15

 

Designer Kevin Wilson

Artist W. Kozyra

Publisher Incredible Dream Studios

Category Tile-Laying

Length 15 minutes

Release Date 2021 (New version in 2024)

Player Count 1+

A Gentle Rain is an introspective tile-laying game for one player. Touted as an experience for those in need of a mental reset, it is calming and visually lovely. Take a deep breath, center your mind, and enjoy the rain!

Review

A Gentle Rain is as much a game as it is a meditation exercise. Thematically, it takes place at a tranquil lake, where light rain is causing water lilies to open. The rain lasts as long as tiles remain in the supply, and the goal is to position the tiles to get all the lilies to open.

To play A Gentle Rain, the player first draws a single tile to begin a tableau. Then, they draw successive tiles, one at a time, and add them to the tableau such that all adjacent tiles match up color-to-color with their neighbors.

If a newly-placed tile completes a 2×2 square, the player can place a lily token in the circular hole, matching one of the surrounding colors.

The game ends either when the player has placed all the lily tokens, or when all the tiles have been used. In either case, the player’s score is the number of lilies placed (up to eight), plus one point per unused tile.


For all the times I’ve heard a game described as “cozy,” “relaxing,” or “zen,” I have never seen one lean as heavily into that mindset as A Gentle Rain. Right out of the box, this game is calming and evocative, with poetic language and serene artwork. The rules encourage the player to set the stage before playing by changing into comfortable clothes, making tea or cocoa, and putting on soft music. While somewhat superfluous, I actually tried out this pre-game ritual, and indeed, it helped me to slow down and clear my head.

Since each tile shows 4 different flowers, players want to avoid creating a situation like this, where no tile will fit.

In terms of gameplay, A Gentle Rain is about as feather-light as it gets. The only two decisions in the game are 1) where to place the tile each turn, and 2) when a circle is complete, which token to place in it (a choice which is rarely consequential). I suppose a small decision space is fitting — after all, if I’m trying to relax and clear my mind, I don’t need a bunch of turn angst getting in the way — but when viewed strictly as a game, independent of its therapeutic nature, A Gentle Rain is pretty sparse.

As such, my recommendation for this game depends almost entirely on what you want out of it. If you are looking for a solo game with depth of strategy, A Gentle Rain will not fit that bill. However, if you are in search of a solo game that leads with a lovely theme, striking visuals, and a calming sense of introspection, I would recommend it above almost any other game out there. A Gentle Rain is the kind of game where it doesn’t feel important whether you win or lose, it’s all about the experience. (The rules even acknowledge this, stating that the game is about the journey, not the destination.)

A completed game, which was won on the last tile.

The production of this game is very nice, with handsome components in a compact package. Spot gloss details make the tiles pop, and the tokens are nicely screen-printed. One minor issue is that certain flowers are easy to mix up based on color similarities. It helps that each flower has a unique design, but the flower icons are small enough that it’s not always easy to differentiate them at a glance. Besides this minor gripe, however, A Gentle Rain looks great on the table, and it travels well in a bag or suitcase.

Bottom line, A Gentle Rain is, as a game, very limited, but as a mental health exercise, a great experience. Everyone needs to slow down and reset from time to time, and A Gentle Rain helps to facilitate this in the context of play. This game feels like the opposite of “brain-burning” — it’s “brain-relaxing.” If that sounds like something you might enjoy, check it out!

A review copy was provided by Incredible Dream Studios.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for a solo game with depth of strategy, A Gentle Rain will not fit that bill. However, if you are in search of a solo game that leads with a lovely theme, striking visuals, and a calming sense of introspection, I would recommend it above almost any other game out there.

 

7

Author: Stephen Hall

A bard pretending to be a cleric. Possibly a Cylon, too. I was there when they dug up the "E.T." cartridges.