Review: Rain (PSN)
Format: PlayStation Network Download (2.1 GB)
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Developer: Acquire / PlayStation C.A.M.P.
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E
Rain is exclusive to PlayStation Network.
Even though there isn’t any actual dialogue in Rain, there is still a great story, and you can rest assured that there won’t be any spoilers here. Also, check out my hands-on preview here to get a good idea at how the game begins. This review will strictly cover the non-story elements of the game to ensure that I don’t spoil anything.
From my preview:
“Everywhere you go, it’s raining. Since you’re invisible though, this is the only way that you can be seen, which can be good or bad depending on the situation. The beasts that roam the streets are pretty simple-minded. If they see you, they attack. If they hear you run through a deep puddle, they attack. So obviously, if they’re in your proximity, your goal is to not be seen or heard. Fortunately, there are usually overhangs that shield you from the falling rain, making you invisible to the patrols.”
Rain is an interactive story, rooted mainly in puzzle solving and some light stealth gameplay. Everything that you see and do are all pieces of the story that unfolds before you, and you’ll need to play through a second time to actually figure out what’s happening in certain parts of it.
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 339 of the podcast.
The basic gameplay is actually the simplest piece of this game, with only a couple of actions available to you. Hit ‘X’ to jump, hold ‘Square’ to run, and ‘Circle’ to interact. You’ll never press a button to talk to anyone or anything, and the only text that you’ll see will show up at certain points throughout, used to explain certain things happening in the story exactly as you’d expect in an “interactive storybook”. Controls are excellent and never get in your way.
Something that put me at ease was that the developers made sure that you never have to worry about controlling the character when the camera is at an odd angle. The first time it happened, I was afraid of walking off of a narrow walkway, but when I tested the waters, I realized that I actually couldn’t fall off. This small thing allowed me to focus more on the story and less on the mechanics, and that’s something that’s needed in this game.
A huge reason why this game works is how visually effective everything is. It’s not the best looking game ever released on the PS3, but it does look excellent. As the story progresses, the city and the landscape slowly transforms from a pretty normal looking town, into an MC Escher-inspired fantasy, but always with a grim overtone looming behind the constantly falling rain.
As you’re playing, the feeling that you’re experiencing somewhat of a nightmare is quickly evident, and even though the first few chapters take place in a pretty normal looking town at night, the use of muted colors combined with the driving rain can get you pretty creeped-out. Something of note is that when I finally realized the fact that even though there are staircases and other areas to walk through (that would end as a dead end), I was always somehow compelled to walk the correct path. There were no aids like you’d see in other games, like arrows or a difference in color. But somehow, I always seemed to walk the correct path. That’s either sheer luck or expert level design.
Rain can get incredibly tense, and since you probably won’t be able to pull yourself out of the moment enough, it’s unlikely that you’ll realize how much the audio is affecting your experience. If you’re using any implementation of surround sound, be ready for those heavy footsteps, slowly skulking in the distance. Knowing that “The Unknown” is somewhere close, just itching to destroy you… well, yeah, you’re going to freak. Even the subtle sounds like the falling rain while you’re in a building, or your footsteps while walking through puddles. You can tell that a lot of care was put into the audio design, and it blends so well with the complex visual elements to pull you completely into the experience.
This game is single player only.
I gotta say, I was actually a bit disappointed at the end of Rain for a couple of reasons (that I won’t go in to re: possible spoilers). But then it told me that I had unlocked a bunch of items that help explain some of the story elements, which also explained the story length, which was roughly 5 hours (which is great). The items are discoverable throughout each chapter of the game. I like this idea actually, since the second time through the game is going to be a different experience. You’ve learned some things in the first run, so with the second time through, you’ll be paying attention to other elements, which is pretty cool when you think about it. That’s a bold move in game and story design, and it works.
Rain is a pretty fantastic experience, and it’s not only a unique way of telling a story, but it’s also an incredibly well put-together game that brings a lot of new ideas to the table. It’s also a game that you can play with your kids, well, as long as they’re not prone to nightmares.