An invisible boy and girl dodge frightening creatures in a mysterious world amid varying levels of torrential downpours. Does Rain, the latest downloadable PS3 exclusive, hit the mark in the same ways Journey did? Read on to find out.
Developer: PlayStation C.A.M.P./Acquire/SCE Japan Studio
Rain focuses on the story of a boy. Thrown into a strange world, the boy (as he is referred to) is invisible, his position only given away by the rain that falls around him, leaving a shimmering, ghost-like appearance. During the early stages, he finds he is not alone in the world, with the introduction of “The girl”. Unable to communicate, the boy has to draw the girl’s attention in a number of different ways, all the while dodging a variety of creatures, who are also hidden unless the rain is falling around them. Throughout the story, not a single word is spoken, and it’s a testament to Rain’s creativity that it elicits reactions and emotions from the player in the way that it does. The story is uplifting, full of suspense, and heartbreaking all at the same time. With the boy and the girl’s paths repeatedly intertwining in a world that becomes consumed with darkness as they run from “The Unknown”, and the revelations that unwind before your eyes, it really is a wonderful tale.
The first thing that strikes you about Rain is the, well, rain. Constantly falling, the streaks of white that stream from the top of the screen never detract from the lovingly created environments, and the constant splashing of droplets on the floor and roofs as you search for the girl really help to engross you in the atmosphere. I mentioned the environments, and they are really impressive. I would have liked to have seen a little more variety in the game’s 8 chapters, but there are some beautiful areas throughout, and each different one throws a new gameplay element into the mix to keep things fresh.
It’s a great looking game for a small downloadable title, but won’t be challenging for too many “best graphics” awards come the end of the year. This isn’t to the game’s detriment though, and the graphical style definitely adds to the sense of claustrophobia and impending fear that the boy and the girl feel.
Rain’s soundtrack is suitably subtle. There is a consistent soothing piano soundtrack in the background (which includes Debussy’s “Clair de Lune”), along with the sound of the weather that engulfs the world. Encounters with the pair’s nemesis in “The Unknown” are coupled with a dark, foreboding soundtrack that dials up the tension and sense of urgency to escape.
As previously mentioned, no dialogue is spoken in Rain. The interactions throughout the world are all played out with music. Some may draw comparisons to last year’s downloadable smash, Journey, and they’re probably accurate ones to make. The shifts in tone between gentle and brooding are superb, and really do help with the emotional investment.
Rain is primarily a 3D platformer with stealth elements and puzzles. Want to hide yourself from the enemies that prowl around? Just hide in an area that’s sheltered. The rain stops falling on you, and you are immediately invisible. Step back out, and your form returns. It’s a novel idea, and one that’s used to great effect here. As the game progresses, it introduces new mechanics, such as walking through dirty puddles to highlight the boy’s feet, which is handy for sheltered indoor environments that would otherwise render you completely invisible. Of course, this also makes you visible to your enemies, so you need to be careful with your steps!
I mentioned the puzzles, and to my mind, this is where the game falls down slightly. Almost all of the important elements of the environment are highlighted with a flashing white light, and there’s not a lot of thought required to progress. Whilst this is slightly disappointing in itself, it doesn’t hurt the overall experience of the game, and in some respects the fact that you’re not being held back by overly-complex puzzles helps the story move along at a decent pace.
Much like Journey, Rain is a fairly short experience. I played through the game in three sittings, with the whole thing taking around 4 or 5 hours. Upon completion, Rain presents you with a new reason to play through it again, but on the whole it’s probably best described as a short but very sweet experience.
Rain is a fantastic game, which expands on the legacy of downloadable titles on the PS3 that’s been set by ThatGameCompany. The emotional attachment that it achieves is something few games manage in a full length campaign, let alone an experience as short as Rain is. The simplicity of the puzzles could have taken away from the game as a whole, but it’s to the game’s credit that it doesn’t. A brilliant example of the type of games Sony is taking an interest in with the next generation, Rain is a remarkable experience that shouldn’t be missed.