Reviews: Sony Japan Studio has created a classic, artistic game that focuses on some refreshing mechanics that is unlike anything I have ever played.
From the moment that I first saw Rain from Sonyís Japan Studio I was immediately intrigued. It seemed like a really cool concept and it was something I definitely wanted to play. There are a couple of different themes explored in this game with light vs. darkness and the kindness of strangers being chief among them. Rain starts out with a little boy looking out his window and seeing a ghostly silhouette of a little girl running down the street being chased by the ghostly silhouette of an enemy simply called the Unknown. He can see the little girl is in trouble so he quickly tries to follow to see if he can help out despite not knowing anything about what is going on.
As he goes down to the street he seems to enter a different world and notices that he is now a ghostly silhouette too. Rain has a really interesting mechanic where these silhouettes can only be seen in the rain. If you happen to walk under an awning or other type of roof where the rain canít get to you then you become invisible and all you will see is your footsteps on the ground. This is one of the most important aspects of Rain as you will need to utilize this mechanic if you want to survive. You also need to keep in mind that when you are able to see yourself in the rain that means the Unknown can see you as well. There will be many instances when you might be in an open area and all of a sudden an Unknown shows up and you need to quickly find some cover. As soon as you reach a spot where the rain canít get to you the enemy can no longer see you, however, that doesnít mean you are safe. There are times when an Unknown will approach your last known location and make a blind swipe trying to hit you. There are other times when they are in a building and are therefore invisible themselves and so you need to pay attention to where you see footprints and try to avoid them. It is a refreshing mechanic that to my knowledge hasnít been done before and I really enjoyed it.
Rain is similar to the PSN title Journey in that the game is all about the experience. Even though you encounter enemies in Rain there is no combat. The narrative in Rain is told through little bits of text that you see every once in a while and the two characters never speak. It is basically like a silent film where if there is a point to be made it is presented to you in a different manner. The artistic vision in Rain is absolutely fantastic from the environments, the beautiful musical score and how a relationship forms without uttering a word and, at times, without even seeing the other person. Much like Journey, Rain is only a few hours long and you can easily beat it in one sitting. My first time through it probably took me a little over three hours to beat but once you do beat the game, collectibles begin to appear so you have to go through the game again to find all of the collectibles. That means, if you are someone who likes to do everything in a game, it will probably take you around six hours to do.
Going through the world of Rain there is the invisible mechanic that I mentioned up above but there is also some puzzle solving. There will be times when you canít get to a high ledge without some help or you need to try and figure out a way to eliminate an enemy before he hurts either the little girl or yourself. There are other times when there is moving cover so you need to be sure to stay with that so you donít get spotted. One of my favorites was when an Unknown was blocking my path and I saw a big puddle of water nearby. I would make a lot of noise by splashing around in that puddle which would attract the attention of the enemy. When he went to investigate I would go invisible and slip past him without him knowing I was ever there.
Rain really is a beautiful game. The team over at Japan Studio had a really great idea and were able to turn it into a really great game. The environments can be dark and dreary with rain pouring down everywhere while the beautiful piano score plays in the background and really helps set the mood. There are times when you might feel alone and helpless and other times when the score really comes up and you are filled with hope as you see that you might be getting closer to figuring out what is going on. The whole game has kind of a tranquil feel to it interspersed with tense moments here and there when you arenít sure if you will make it out of a situation you find yourself in. Rain is an experience that should not be missed and is a game that I will return to again and again. Itís a definite work of art and a really great experience overall.