Sony Japan has a habit of coming up with beautiful, artistic games, which often offer something a little unusual about them and based on our time with the studios latest title, 'Rain', it’s worked its magic once again.
Rain starts by introducing you to a nameless young boy who, while lost out in the rain, sees the silhouette of a young girl who is being pursued by a unknown creature. Not really thinking about the consequences the boy decides to follow them into a gate of darkness although it’s not long before he discovers that, like the girl, he has become invisible, with only the rain revealing his whereabouts.
Our preview took in the first three chapters, which slowly introduce you to the game mechanics as you follow the footsteps of the young girl in the beautifully realized world of rain. The best way to describe the game is that it almost feels like you are playing a book, the words of which have come to life before you eyes. This certainly ties in with the way the story is told, thanks to the narrative appearing on the sides of the buildings, giving you the information you need to understand to plot, before melting away into the background.
As for the gameplay, given that our hero is being pursed by an ‘unknown’ creature, he has to be careful, although luckily by hiding in cover from the rain, such as under rooftops and other forms of shelter, he is able to become invisible. Of course being invisible is not always useful, especially if there are creatures blocking his path, so other tricks come into play, such as hiding in lockers until the creatures pass; getting their attention so that they can knock down obstacles in your path or even splashing in puddles to gain their attention, before hiding under shelter until they pass.
Things do get a little more difficult as the game progresses, as suddenly the unknown become trickier to avoid and a new mud mechanic is introduced, sticking to the boy stubbornly and making him visible even when he finds shelter. This make the game tricky, although luckily the mud can be washed away by finding large puddles of water.
In most respects rain is a simple game, you hide, solve puzzles and continue to pursue the girl. But what makes it special is the sum of it’s parts. Rain offers beautifully simple graphics which compliment the gameplay mechanics completely. It also has a fantastic orchestral score which helps both build tension when something dramatic is about to happen and becomes almost minimal when you can relax.
It’s fair to say that rain will fill you with tension as you try to avoid being seen by the unknown or rush way from them by opening doors or crawling into tights spaces to avoid their grasp. It’s a stunningly beautiful game with hints or Ico and Unfinished Swan, but at the same time there’s nothing quite like it, giving you that distinct feeling that even if you never knew what console this game was running on, you’d know in your heart that it’d be accompanied by the words 'PlayStation'.
Sony Japan’s rain certainly has that ‘classic’ feel to it. Much like Ico it’s crying out for gamers to play it, let’s just hope that this time they pay attention.