Tech News on G4
Falling for Rain
Oct 18, 2013
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
As more and more artistic games make their way onto consoles, the very definition of what a game is becomes ever blurred. Rain is the latest download-only exclusive for the Playstation 3, and while the gameplay and content equates to nothing more than a light drizzle, the game as a whole is capable of hitting players like a torrential downpour.
Rain tells the story of a boy who finds himself caught outside in a downpour one night as he chases after a mysterious girl. It only takes a few moments for him to realize that he's invisible, although he can be rendered noticeable whenever he walks under the rain, as this allows him to appear as some sort of water-based silhouette.
Although there's not a single human being to be found in the small town the boy and girl traverse, there are some fearsome enemies (also invisible) that populate the streets. The most chilling of the bunch is a seemingly unstoppable creature dubbed the Unknown, which shows up repeatedly as he hunts the two youngsters.
There are eight chapters in Rain, and they all mostly revolve around light puzzle elements, mixed with some stealth gameplay. It's clear as the story progresses, though, that the focus here is more on the story and the relationship between the boy and girl, and less on the gameplay itself.
The puzzles aren't likely to stump players for more than a minute or two, and checkpoints are so generously placed that there's very little backtracking. Even then, the game offers up hints after you've died a few times at the same section.
Despite being a few hours long at most, Rain feels more substantial than it is, thanks in no small part to - minor spoiler alert here - the decision by the designers to unite the boy and girl before the end credits. Interestingly, it's the moments when the two are separated that are the strongest.
For instance, it's terrifying seeing the Unknown slowly creep toward you, about to turn a corner and find you at the dead end you're cowering in, only to have the computer-controlled girl flip a wooden board above you, allowing you to be shielded from the rain and rendered invisible.
And best of all, Rain never feels like a badly-designed escort game when you are with the girl. She keeps up with you, she never gets inexplicably stuck on random pieces of the environment, and she'll even help you when you're stumped as to how to proceed next.
It's also the simplicity of the game that makes Rain so appealing. Music is used sparingly - often, you'll just hear the pitter-patter of rain - but when it does start up, it's always well-placed, and the piano is truly haunting and beautiful.
The game isn't about to overclock the PS3's processors in any way, but the emptiness of the town through which the boy and girl travel adds to the melancholy atmosphere that starts from the opening scene and never lets up.
There are a few issues with the art style though. Much of the story - as well as hints as to how to progress - is presented as text that appears on pieces of the environment as you run from one part of town to the next. It looks really neat, but there are a few intense moments where text will pop up, yet it's difficult to read because you're focused more on, I don't know, not being caught by the Unknown as it chases you mercilessly.
Not only that, but the game employs a fixed camera, and combining that with having to rely on nothing more than subtle footsteps to follow your character during times when he's not underneath the rain, can make for a few frustratingly difficult platforming sections. Still, the aforementioned checkpoints manage to keep the frustration levels to a minimum.
Like the superb Journey before it, Rain is a story-driven game first and foremost. It's well-written and is bound to bring out all kinds of emotion in the gamer who looks beyond the been-there-done-that gameplay. It might not be on quite the same level as last year's masterpiece from thatgamecompany, but it still offers a legitimately memorable journey of its own.
About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.