rain begins with an ailing boy waking up from his condition to witness a girl running away from a shadowy figure in a desolate town, the boy in an attempt to save the girl follows them through a portal into a dark rain-soaked world. Although its yet another boy finds girl and protects her story, its nonetheless a deeply emotional journey, heart-breaking even. Regardless of the fact that it would be difficult not to be when it is concerned with two innocent children and the gloomy themes rain explores.
There is no interface or even dialogue, instead the game guides you via minimalist, silent text narration projected onto the environment as you progress. This proves befitting to its artistic style, the writing is a separate issue but it neatly intertwines with the game to provide a poetic structure that the developers were so clearly longing for.
It plays like a slow-paced stealth platformer for the vast majority of the time, I do greatly enjoy stealth games but when rain simply offers no variation from the formula it becomes repetitive very quickly with the gameplay consisting entirely of the simple mechanic of being visible in the rain and subsequently being invisible where there’s shelter, it does nevertheless work well and it’s easy to pick up. However the flip-side to such a basic game mechanic is that it’s consequently limited, the game handicaps itself by seemingly presenting an adventure that only revolves around just this one method. Moreover, no other innovations or tweaks to the gameplay are integrated throughout your journey.
Level design is generally quite uninspiring, the factory level being particularly, unbearably dreary, with such a striking art style I was expecting the settings to be more imaginative but it’s instead all so bland which I find remarkable considering how expressive the imagery should be, with its dark premise and haunting European town.
Similarly, naming an enemy ‘The Unknown’ is just so lazy and unimaginative, unfortunately this is also the primary antagonist throughout the entire game, indeed this annoyance is compounded by how it incredulously manages to follow you despite defeating it at many points in the game. I understand why to an extent with regards the game’s thematic message, but it’s just frustrating when you’re playing to know you have to deal with this thing again and again.
I appreciate a game that requires patience, but there is a marked difference between being slow-paced and outright frustrating, on many occasions you’ll have to wait around to progress, from the girl attempting to remove barriers blocking your way in the most delayed way possible; to the overall clumsiness of the animations.
However the highlight of the game is the beautiful, achingly atmospheric soundtrack that fits perfectly with the melancholic world of rain. To cite Journey as an example, the soundtrack feels similarly crucial to the game as a whole with the soft, delicate piano tunes ebbing away in the background as you traverse through this world of sorrow and despair. It really does intensify to what is already a hugely atmospheric game.
Rain is anchored on its artistic premise, but it results in the view that it simply is not as clever as it thinks it is, the narration becomes gratingly pretentious in its attempt to convey the despair of the world, it’s ultimately self-indulgent and the latter stages of the game echo the sense of a game that proves unable to sustain its own ideas for the entire length of the journey.
There’s the undeniable sense that the concept is ultimately too abstract for the game itself, the level design is tedious and it devolves into something that whilst visually striking, it becomes overwhelmingly unfocused. But credit to Sony for trying something different, in my opinion it doesn’t realize its potential but perhaps in the future other projects will fare better in the aim to do something new.
–Doesn’t have enough ideas
–Uninspiring level design
–Writing becomes ostentatious