Review followups: Ayo – A Rain Tale

When I reviewed Ayo: A Rain Tale, I brought up the fact that it shared some strong similarities to Never Alone. It’s fitting, then, that Ayo would similarly make its way to mobile platforms before long. If it had remained a PC exclusive, this review followup wouldn’t exist; while there have been one or two patches, nothing meaningful appears to have been changed or tweaked in the PC release. Lightning flashes are still overwhelming and no option exists to disable them (consider that an advance warning about clicking on the videos embedded below if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing). The chase sequence that acts as the final boss still bugs out if you restart from a checkpoint, and I even managed to find a new bug that softlocks the game. However, a jump to touch screens seemed a good enough reason to give Ayo another look, so I grabbed the Android version and dived back into A Rain Tale.

First, though, the softlock

The above video might technically be 15 minutes long, but it’s actually 2 and a half minutes of stuff happening followed by 12 and a half minutes of the softlock. I kept the video running because I thought I heard the bull using its electricity attack, and it would have been hilarious if the bull continued rampaging all the way to the end of the level and triggering a successful finish. Alas, that didn’t wind up happening.

Anyway, the beginning of the video showcases how the level bugs out if you restart from the checkpoint while the early animations play out, but not once the level has technically started. This isn’t really a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but the fact that it occurs during the most annoying section of the game has allowed it to become emblematic of Ayo’s overarching problems, and it’s not like that’s the only bug to be found. Again, I softlocked the game. The only way out of it was to alt-tab and stop the process. Oh, and my controller randomly stopped working with Ayo shortly afterward despite functioning perfectly in other games. It doesn’t even recognize that my controller exists anymore. This is apparently a known problem.

Android is touch-only, apparently

First things first: gone are the days where I’d use video recording software on my Galaxy S5 to capture choppy videos with bad audio. Instead, I’m using an MHL to HDMI cable that feeds into a splitter (to remove the pesky HDCP protection that sometimes becomes a problem), and from there into my capture device. That means that the audio and performance are 1:1, but it also means that the port is occupied. This makes it impossible to use an Xbox 360 controller through an OTG adapter while recording. Not that it matters here; despite Ayo effectively being the same game on both platforms, there’s no Xbox 360 controller support available here for some inexplicable reason. Actually, that’s not entirely true—I was able to back out of menus using the controller, but nothing else worked. Ayo on Android is evidently a touch-only affair, and that’s where things start to get incredibly messy.

You don’t realize how much you rely on the inherent feedback of button presses until you’re using touch screen controls that lack it. Moving Ayo around always feels imprecise and dicey because it’s easy to move your finger too far and lose track of where the movement area is, requiring you to look down and find it again since it feels identical to the rest of the screen (which, as a side note, you’re actively covering parts of with your fingers, reducing visibility). Jumping and the later unlockable ability to alternate between colored platforms are different buttons, and you can’t rest your fingers on them because it’s a touch screen and all touches are the same in mobile Ayo’s eyes. Imagine using a controller, only you can’t touch the directional stick or buttons until you’re going to actually use them. That short delay while you move your fingers down onto the screen adds just enough sluggishness to the controls to make some of Ayo’s tricky platforming truly nightmarish.

Even sections that weren’t remotely difficult in the PC game carry a degree of challenge to them here because of the imprecise controls. You can see me push a block into the toxic waste in the video above, only to let go of the touch screen stick a split-second too late and end up falling in before the block resurfaces. This level eventually becomes crazy as you have to jump and change the blocks around you while in midair, and while this was one of the things that I liked about the PC version, doing all of that on a touch screen strikes me as needlessly masochistic.

Saves are the same

It didn’t take long before I realized how much I despised the touch controls in mobile Ayo, but pretty much everything about the game as a whole is identical between the two versions right down to the skip screen icon showing “X” like when a controller is plugged in. On a hunch, I went into the save game folders and noticed that both the PC and Android versions have identical save names, so I put the completed PC save onto a USB stick and replaced the Android save with it. This worked just as I had hoped, allowing me to record all of these different areas without having to play through the entire game with touch controls. Of course, that left me with one burning question: does the final chase sequence bug out like the PC version does?

Yes. Yes it does. And the chase sequence is even worse than on PC because of the controls, as expected. If Xbox 360 controllers worked with mobile Ayo, that would be one thing, but they don’t (I suspect because the touch controls are emulating an Xbox 360 controller). That makes mobile Ayo a vastly inferior version that shares all of the PC version’s bugs and problems while adding its own. If you’re madly in love with Never Alone and can look past some rough edges—which is kind of redundant, now that I think about it—then by all means, pick up Ayo: A Rain Tale. Just be sure to get the PC version, because touch screen controls feel kind of like dictating your desired inputs to a glove-wearing friend who happens to suffer from hearing loss.

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